My friend Steph and I were recently talking about how our brains are autopiloted musical jukeboxes. I found this especially true this morning. For example, while making my bed I was singing Modest Mouses’ “City of Ashes.” By the time I hopped in the shower it was Def Leppard’s “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak.” Putting on my new Avon “Twilight Shimmer” eyeliner, a voice from the far-away (20 years ago!) past crept into my gray matter: Ugly Kid Joe’s “Busy Bee.”
My psyche has been craving Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy (and I gave it a brief spin yesterday, key tracks “Not For You” and “Whipping”) and today I wanted Radiohead. But there’s a problem with dreary January and Radiohead. I don’t know if the darkness would be too dark. So this morning I chose Ugly Kid Joe instead.
As I drove to work, I thought, “If I had a ten-year-old daughter, would I let her listen to this?!” Maybe not, was my answer. But I’m glad that Mom did not censor our music. A lifelong fan of Harry Chapin, I do appreciate UKJ’s rendition of “The Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s a sad song, but they somehow make it seem a bit more haunting.
Other good tracks? The light and snarky “Mr. Record Man” (great bass line, by the way!) and, of course, “Busy Bee” where he sings, “Everybody’s all right with me…cuz that’s the way I choose to be, yeah.”
The CD itself is of that old school quality, much like my original copy, my first CD ever, Def Leppard’s Adrenalize. Looking at the date I felt time, heavily. 1991/1992. Polygram/Stardog Records. Of course I can’t see Stardog without thinking of Mother Love Bone’s “Stardog Champion” which was also released from the same record label. The CD insert had all the lyrics, of course. It made me smile. Suddenly, I was ten again, really grateful for all the lyrics. I used to sit on my bed and listen to a CD over and over, reading the lyrics.
What are they doing now? I’m not sure. But somewhere between the City of Ashes and Heartbreak, Ugly Kid Joe made me smile and I even caught myself singing all the way into work.
I’m not sure what kind of physiological response causes this musical jukebox syndrome but I appreciate it. In the same way, Mom and I can turn two words in a conversation into an impromptu sing-a-long. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s just the awesome power of music.
Be well and rock on,