Almost every female in the history of my life has a theme song, even if they don’t know it. They usually don’t. These aren't the carefully-chosen songs to match a person's entire significance, but rather the instantaneous gut reaction that glues people to a specific and indelible moment, usually early in my memories with them.
We were sitting in a neighbor's living room, and I heard my mom sing along with Tanya on the radio, and I just knew I had to learn this song. I was four.
I’ve never told my mother this, because I’m not sure what she’d think about it. Considering that I’ve often been a very intentional person when it comes to songs and lyrics, I’d have a tough time convincing her there wasn’t some secret motive or message behind it.
That’s true of most of the songs connected to most of the girls and women I have known. They would almost certainly read more into the connection than was intended.
With my first girlfriend of sorts, Amy, it was Rick Springfield’s “Affair of the Heart.” We had no affair, and we had young clueless hearts, but she gave me Living In Oz as an unexpected birthday present, and I never forgot it. I can even tell you the exact spot on the playground where I sat on a bench and unwrapped it, and the look on her face, of fear and trying not to care too much followed by that ecstasy of mere relief when I looked genuinely pleased.
Or take Daisy, the regular BOTG commentator I’ve known since high school.
I remember Daisy liking this song a lot, and I remember having no clue why. The song never did a damn thing for me. Which is precisely why I connect it with her. And the connection doesn’t go a centimeter deeper than that.
The way I remember it -- and I’m absolutely positive she’ll correct me if I get it wrong -- listening to this album was one of the first instances when I remember being in her room, and I remember being all excited and nervous that I had a female friend (whom, yeah, fine, I found attractive) who was willing to let me into her private life, her personal space.
People will do lots of wild and extreme things to be near people they’re attracted to, so listening to “I Remember California” a few dozen more times than I was inclined seemed a laughable toll for the opportunity.
The song I most immediately connect with my wife is “Anna Begins” by the Counting Crows.
“August & Everything After” was the first album we landed on when we started dating, a common ground between her background of Billy Joel and Elton John, and mine of... well, the rest.
J insists on the whole love at first sight story. She knew I was the one the minute she met me. Yada yada.
I’m not saying the whole series of events wasn’t a weird thing. I’m not saying there wasn’t something extraordinary or at least suspicious and serendipitous about those initial encounters, how things worked out despite the obstacles that got in our way. And this song was part of that. Counting Crows had hit a different level of popularity by Spring Break, and we were on our third or fourth date shortly after that, and this became the cassette that played whenever we were in the car together.
And Adam Duritz kept insisting, through this song, that I was really going to regret it if I didn’t let this girl in. Other than Adam, I’ve only known one other white guy who could pull off dreadlocks. His name was Bozart. Bozart got pulled over driving our rented Winnebago in Key West because we were all passed out drunk. Bozart had a 15-minute conversation with the two police officers about how irresponsible and childish we were. It wasn’t the cops who kept the conversation going; Bozart just had to know how long he could pontificate with them without them ever getting suspicious about his state of mind. With dreads.
My point being, I respect the otherworldly wisdom of white men in dreads. I probably owe Adam a thank you card for my wife and my children. Maybe this post will suffice.