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Sunday, July 03, 2005

It's that time of year again, that time where I get another year older. As for how old, I'll give you a clue - it's been staring you in the face ever since you started reading this blog.

Once upon a time, in sadder days, I'd mull over my birthday with the song "Birthday Boy" by Chicago. Being from Chicago XIV, it's a pretty lousy song. It's about someone trying ostensibly to cheer someone up on their birthday. Good luck trying to do that with a song played at a dirge-like tempo. I listened to that song last night, as a lark, grinning to myself that my life is much, much happer.

Like last year, I searched for the song that would define the upcoming year of my life. This time, I went and compiled a list and, much like Nick Hornby's Songbook which I had the pleasure of reading lately, I'm going to comment on each.

“Fight Test” by The Flaming Lips: The song sums up the feelings of someone who wishes they would have fought to keep what they had, rather than surrendering and letting it go. The singer saw many sensible reasons not to fight, but now regrets them all. The most important lesson in this song is something that would've saved me a lot of pain a few years ago: That "there are things you can't avoid. You have to face them when you're not prepared to face them." I need to remember that.

“Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster” by Geto Boys: If I distill all the good things I have in my life and the way they make me feel, you basically have the words to this song.

“Just Another Parade” by Cassandra Wilson: This song illustrates the kind of quiet strength and perseverance I’d like to develop. It involves the realization that if you’ve spent any time in this life whatsoever, you have seen and will see both bright and dark days, so there’s no really no use for fear and anxiety. "Yesterday's news is tomorrow's blues," true. "But today, I am alive." So, part of my life's plan will be to make sure I do "much more than survive."

“All is Well” by Chicago: Robert Lamm said it best when he said, “There was a time when I thought I was fooling myself, but now, I’ll take a bow, ‘cause I’m free and easy.”

“While You See a Chance” by Steve Winwood: Underneath the obvious titular advice, Winwood outlines the circumstances in which it’s ideal to follow it, even if it doesn’t seem that way. For instance, “When there’s no one left to leave you. Even you don’t quite believe you. That’s when nothing can deceive you.” Been there, done that - and he's right.

“Hi-De-Ho” by Blood, Sweat & Tears: They add one verse to this Carole King tune about meeting the Devil, being offered a deal for your soul, and deciding to turn it down. In life, though, I've found that it’s often a daily choice. Some things just aren't worth it.

“(She’s) Some Kind of Wonderful” by Huey Lewis & the News: On the other hand, if there’s one thing worth selling my soul for, it’s my wife.

“Back in the High Life Again” by Steve Winwood: There was a time, when I was at the height of my game as a mental health worker, that I had the respect and admiration of my peers. I'm out of that game, probably never to return, but I miss that. Not really being gaped at, but there's something about the mutual admiration of professional colleagues that I miss. But, I know that as I pursue my life's plans, I'll have all of that back.

“Misery Isn’t Free” by Sons of Champlin: Until that day comes, however, there's no place for misery. What does matter, then? "The right direction's all that counts and there's no way for me to get there late."

"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" by Styx - Sounds cliche, but often I need to be reminded that "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me."

“My Thanksgiving” by Don Henley: “I wallowed in the springtime, now I’m welcoming the fall” is one of many lines that are the perfect metaphors for aspects of my life. I’ve liked this song for a long time, since I first heard it two years ago, and I think I’ve finally realized why. It’s because I’m still in the process of fully accepting the message of this song, which is that you need to be grateful for the good and bad times, because it all shapes your life. And, both can shape it for the better, but only if you allow them.

“Today” by Beckley, Lamm & Wilson: I can never get over this song, which is about late Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s musings about the whole of life – everything on earth, everything under the sun – and how it all boils down to one thing: the importance of today.

"Hold On" by Sons of Champlin: So, knowing everything I've written so far, there's only one thing to do with it, and that's go forward, and for anyone who wants to come with me, "Hold on/ The brakes are gone/ Ain't no stoppin' this train we're on." (Sure, I could've put the song "Plaid" in here, but I always liked this one better.)

“Right Now” by Van Halen: This is more than jut another track to psych me up. If you listen through the verses, you’ll find some of the types of things that stopped me at different times from reaching out and taking the things I want in life: the slow accumulation of little problems, trying to keep up with life, missed beats, slipped paces. The song is really a list for me of pits not to fall back into.

“The Show Must Go On” by Chicago: My favorite Bill Champlin song simply because I’ve never ever found a better personal anthem. It still stirs the soul to hear:
And I’m tired of turning my back on myself
Throwing truth away
Let the fire burn down the front door to myself
And give me a season of play.
I’ve listened to this song for years, and over the years I’ve found myself step by step, day by day, and year by year more and more able to reach for what I want in life.
Well, it’s time for collecting
What I’ve been neglecting
It’s gonna be a little strange
‘Cause one day I’ll be gone
And I’ll be back in town
Nothing’s gonna, nothing’s gonna
Be the same
In my 32nd year of life, damn straight nothing's gonna be the same.

2 comments:

datu_b said...

I live!!!!

Happy B-Day! Glad you like the new toys ;) The machete is very primal. Me likie! You likie! Bad people no likie!!

Mushtaq Ali said...

Happy Birthday!