The precise order of events:
1. I saw a five word reply to a FB post : “Somebody needs to do something!”
2. A few minutes later, on a different thread in a different group, I saw almost the exact same words.
3. At that very same moment the song that was playing: “Somebody to love” by Queen
4. I do a search on my hard-drive for song titles that include the word “somebody”
Do NOT ask me why I did that search. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
I learned that I have 28 songs on my laptop with the word “somebody” in the title.
Here are my “Favorite Somebody Seven” in the order they were released, with a few favorite lyrics.
1. “Somebody to Love” was written by Darby Slick, Grace’s brother-in-law. Jefferson Airplane covered it on their second album, and their first with Grace. “Surrealistic pillow” was released in early 1967.
“Tears are running down and down and down your breast
And your friends, baby they treat you like a guest
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love…”
2. “Somebody to Love” was released by Queen in 1976 on their “Day at the races” album.
“I get down on my knees and I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody (somebody), ooh somebody
(Please) can anybody find me somebody to love?”
3. My favorite singer-songwriter wrote the highest charting single of his career for the movie “Fast times at ridgemont high” in 1982. The first time “Somebody’s baby” was released on an album was 15 years later when “The next voice you hear” hit the streets.
My daughter was only when that CD was released. I doubt she remembers, but whenever that song played I would sing along and tell her that the song was written for her….
“I try to shut my eyes, but I can’t get her outta my sight….
…Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s only light”
4. This song always gave me dancing feet, ever since I first saw this video in the fairly early days of MTV, back when they played music. It got mixed reviews when it was released in 1987…and won a Grammy. Go figure.
“Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me…”
5. I’ve written about this song before. It is one of my “First Time Tunes.” It’s the fourth track on “Only by the Night.” Released in December, 2008 by some of my favorite preacher’s kids. This is one of my absolute favorite songs.
“You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak…”
6. This song was released by Gotye after my marriage was over. I had been back in MO for several months when it came out in late 2011. “Somebody that I used to know” resonated.
“Now and then I think of when we were together…
…Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”
7. Jack Antonoff wrote this one about the loss of his sister when he was only 18. Bleachers released the album “Gone now” in 2017. I’ve listened to this album a lot. It includes a song that is on my “play it at my wake” list.
This is not that song, and “Everybody lost somebody” is not my favorite song on the album.
But everybody has lost somebody. And that is gonna keep happening….
“I know that I’m lost
Lost in a world without you
And there’s a reason I wake up alone in strange places…
…Knowing everybody lost somebody”
“You are what you listen to…” appears in the title of 3 of my blog posts.
Assuming there is some validity to those 6 words, what you recommend REALLY must say something!!
The other day I mailed a flash drive to the first person who became a friend after moving to Orygun in 1976. Kevin and I have been through a lot together. Lots of good times. Lots of stories. My favorite is probably the road trip we took in May, 1980, when I attended his 10 year high school reunion….but the story of that trip, and of the big guy who wanted to kick my ass ass at the reunion shindig, are for another day.
Kevin and I don’t talk nearly as often as we should. When we talked six days ago, music was the only subject of the 17 minutes. I promised to send him something. There was a note in the envelope a couple of days later, and earlier today I sent him an e-mail.
I’ve always been a fan of “under promise and over deliver.”
I promised you a flash drive with 10 albums and the one I mailed has 30….and about ¾ of storage is still available. (that’s pretty crazy….i remember the IBM XT with a 10 meg hardrive.)
here are the ten i’d leave on it if someone held my feet to the fire and forced me to strip off twenty.
they are in alpha order, based on the title of the album.
1. “Acoustic at the Ryman” by Band of Horses. I love this band. saw them at roots&blues&bbq in columbia in 2017. (already got my ticket for this year’s festival…sept 28-30.) hope to see band of horses in a small venue near me in 2018…
2. “All your favorite bands” saw Dawes twice in 2017. the two best shows I saw all year. (cains ballroom in tulsa and the madrid in kc.) small venues. “evening with” shows. 2 sets. awesome front man. I have a man crush on taylor goldsmith. my blog is named after the first cut of this album.
3. “American band” saw Drive-by Truckers friday jan. 26 at the truman in KC. they’re on the wheel of soul tour with the best band on the planet, tedeschi trucks. seeing 3 shows of the tour in a 4 day period. thurs, 7/26 at the fabulous fox in STL. sat and sunday, 28th and 29th at Red Rocks. if I had to pick 10 songs from the flash drive it would be “what it means.” the song would probably make the top 3 songs from these 30 albums. POWERFUL song.
5. “Folk Hop ‘n Roll” by Judah and the Lion. I had never listened to this band until my niece asked if we’d meet them at the show at The Pageant in STL on 3/24. I said i’d get back to her. easy decision after hearing just the first song….love the lyrics to it. my friend david baker would say “more banjo!!!”….and this dude can pick it!
6. “Men amongst mountains” by The Revivalists. this band is on my short list of shows that I want to see in 2018….ideally in some place like cains in tulsa. or a small venue in orygun the first 2 weeks of september.
7. “Old forests.” Jeanette calls this her “favorite young band.” my friend joe manlove says “mumford and sons have nothing on these guys.” National Park Radio is good stuff.
8. “Only by the night” by Kings of Leon. if I could only have one KOL album, it would be this one. one of my “first time tunes” is on this album. I wrote about “use somebody” in my blog. love this song. be sure to listen to alum cranked to 11….play it LOUD!
9. “Revelator” by Tedeschi Trucks Band. this is the best band on the planet. (or maybe it’s Santana….shelly and I banter about it.) we are seeing TBT three times in 4 days in late July. if shelly doesn’t get to hear “Midnight in Harlem” live in 2018….she and I will be both disappointed.
hear it once: happy. hear it twice: thrilled. hear it at all three shows: ecstatic. stay tuned.
10. “The Nashville Sound” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
maybe it’s because i’m gonna have a “zero birthday” in september, but since I heard it the first time I have been calling “If we were vampires” the saddest love song ever. this one is a no brainer for the 2018 desert island disk list.
there are multiple albums on here from several artists who made this Top 10 list: Dawes, Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell, Kings of Leon and National Park Radio.
For many years I’ve been telling anyone who would listen: “I wanta die like Leroy Nichols.”
And then I have to explain who he was, and how he died. Leroy died the way that almost everyone wants to go…before they become just a memory. Or worse, a drooling doofus. People wanta die quickly, and with very little pain. That’s no surprise, eh?
I’ve told lots of people about Leroy’s death. I don’t know how many I’ve told…probably over 100 folks. Nobody has a story to tell just like Leroy’s, but lots of people knew someone who died suddenly.
I don’t know how long ago I started talking with others about the way he died. These were typically upbeat, and not in the least bit morbid, conversations. Really.
I’m not even sure how long ago his heart failed him. I’m sure it was at least 10, or maybe even 15, years ago. He did it the right way though.
The version in mind for me varies a bit from Leroy’s, but first the background.
Who was Leroy? He was the brother of two of my aunts by marriage. He had two sisters, Doris and Charlotte. My Mom had brothers named Sterl and Joe. Sterl married Doris; Joe married Charlotte; i.e. my Mom’s brothers married Leroy’s sisters.
I had other connections to Leroy. He taught high school math at Farmington HS. My brother and sister graduated from there and I student taught in the math department a very long time ago. Unfortunately, for eight weeks I was assigned to a control freak named Mr. Ragland. I’m sure it would have been a much better experience (for me and for the kids in the classes) if Leroy had been my mentor. He was a good teacher, far better than the ragman.
He also attended a church for awhile that my Dad started. I was married in that little Baptist church, but I only lived in that town a short time during its existence. I doubt that Leroy and I were there at the same service a dozen times.
How did he die? Stopped at the first traffic light in town, waiting for the light to change. The light turned green and Leroy was turning white.
My version varies from his and is driven by wherever I’m living. The primary difference is where I’d like to be when my heart stops, but it is always in a car and at an intersection. A busy intersection.
My current fantasy takes place at the corner of South Campbell and Republic Road. Friday at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I’m the third car back, stopped at the light after watching a couple of cretins go through on red…
The car stereo is cranked up to something a bit raucous. Maybe it’s Kings of Leon singing “Revelry.” (Somehow it seems fitting that I should be listening to some preacher’s kids rocking on when the time comes….)
The traffic light changes. The cars in front and beside me take off. My little Corolla is frozen in place with Caleb Followill belting out “So the time we shared it was precious to me, All the while I was dreaming of revelry, Dreaming of revelry….”
The cars behind me start honking. Springfield is the buckle of the bible belt but that doesn’t keep the Baptists following me from spewing hate and screaming profanities as they miss the light because my foreign car has them blocked.
People are honking and screaming about my rock-and-roll, and about my corolla not rolling. They are pissed off.
Finally someone gets out of their car and comes up to mine. The CD is on to another KOL song: “I just wanted to know if I could go home, Been rambling in day after day, And everyone says I don’t know. So don’t knock it…”
But the angry people at the busy intersection aren’t paying any attention to the music whatsoever. They’re mad as they approach my car. “Why the hell aren’t you moving that piece of crap?!? You hippies and your loud music!!”
As soon as they get to my car their emotions go from anger to guilt. I’m already turning gray. I’m a goner. Slam, bam, dead.
“I was screaming and cussing the poor old fella, and he was dying right there in front of me. Oh, that poor, poor man…”
People pissed off, then feeling awful. It makes me laugh to think about it. Literally. (Will I be laughing afterwards? That’s a thought or two for another time…)
A quick, painless death. No lingering illness. No huge outlay for healthcare month after month after month. No family and friends watching me wither and die. And on top of it I get to jerk some people’s chains, play with their emotions…and give them a story of their own. Perfect.
Only one person got cranky when I told him my fatalistic fantasy, which only recently got more specific regarding the music playing. Every-time I’ve told it, including telling it to Leroy’s sisters (my two aunts), it’s always been me in the car, with the sound system cranked up on a Friday afternoon at a busy intersection in the town where I was getting my mail.
This perpetually angry man’s reply to my death dream: “Nobody gets to decide how they’re going to die!!” As usual, facts escape and don’t matter to this guy. Someone commits suicide every 13 minutes in the US. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the country. Over 40,000 people a year in America decide how they’re going to die; over half of them using a gun.
While I’ve been sharing this fantasy with people for years I honestly have never thought about death all that much. But a recent rare hospital stay because of pulmonary embolisms of unknown origin does make one think a bit.
What I think is this. It came too early for Leroy. And Leroy got lucky.
First-time-tunes…continued. I left off in 1976. It looks like there were 25 years when I don’t seem to have experienced any “first time tunes.” Really??
I certainly never stopped listening to music, but I did mostly stay in my musical comfort zone and listened mostly to “old favorites” during those years. Those were “work hard, play hard” years, coupled with lots of “family issues.” Most of those 25 years are a bit of a blur….maybe that’s why I don’t have any distinctive memories of hearing a song for the first time?
When my marriage finally imploded in early 2011, I packed up a few possessions and shipped them to my sister’s place on Table Rock Lake. I stayed with her and her husband for just over 3 months, and then it was time to move on.
But I did hear a song during my time at their place that was perfect for where I was at the time. I’ve never been a country music fan, although I have always liked some artists with a touch of country, e.g. Poco, John Hiatt, John Fogerty, Wet Willie. I never liked twangy, and I don’t like “crying in my beer” songs.
I was down on the dock with my brother-in-law and another fellow who has a slip on the same 6-slip boat dock. The radio reception isn’t all that great, so we took what we could get on the hot day in mid-July. It was a toasty day, and we were a bit toasted. I had heard the name of this guy who was singing, but I’ve never listened to anything of his other than this song, and I probably never will. In addition to not liking twangy, I’m also not a fan of people who wear cowboy hats. (This probably has something to do with the narcissist who controlled the franchised business that I invested in….and the reason I always will spell the 28th state as “Texass.”)
Nobody had done me wrong. But as I approached my 63rd birthday, there was no doubt that it was time to leave nothing behind. To take to heart what Warren Zevon said about enjoying every sandwich. To be thankful and to make the best of every new day. To sing along with George Strait’s “Here for a good time.”
Sometimes I love the lyrics of a song, even though they bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to what has happened, or is happening, to me.
My marriage was over. My ex and I weren’t talking. It wasn’t ugly…it was just over. There were no angry words exchanged. No animosity. Nothing mean. What was said was short and sweet: “I’m not happy. You’re not happy. It’s over. Time to move on.”
So this next FTT, another country song that I first heard while down on the boat dock with Don and Randy, was not a reflection of my current or past reality. But I’ll always remember the first time I heard Taylor Swift belting out “Mean,” while those two sat and drank a cold adult beverage and I paced the dock. “…someday I’ll be living in a big old city, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean…why you gotta be so mean?”
In late 2012 I had heard of Kings of Leon. I had read about them in Rolling Stone. I knew they grew up in Oklahoma. I knew that they, like me, grew up as poor preacher’s kids. My dad’s beliefs were in many ways very different than those of their father, but both were preachers. If I had ever heard a song of theirs, I wasn’t aware of it.
The radio wasn’t the only option on that day in early December, but for some reason that’s what I was listening to in my apartment. The radio stations are pretty lame in Springfield, MO; I was listening to 106.7 “The River.” When this song started playing I stopped whatever it was I was doing on my laptop and cranked up the volume. It was a deja vu experience. I felt like I already knew this song, but I’m not sure how? It had been released almost 5 years earlier, but I hadn’t listened to much radio in years (other than when I was hanging out on the boat dock with Don and/or Randy).
When I listened to the radio during the 2000’s it had usually been with my kids or my ex. Before I left Tampa, Kings of Leon most likely wouldn’t have played much on the stations they liked: hip-hop for Caroline, gangsta rap for Joseph, and sports talk for the ex. (Their radio preferences are listed in rank order for me….i’d listen to almost anything before sports talk.)
It was probably a combination of the beat and the lead singer’s voice that caught my attention that December day. But it was also the lyrics.
For me, it’s almost always the lyrics. There are some songs that I like a lot and I don’t have a clue as to the lyrics, or I might not care that the lyrics make no sense or have no meaning for me…I still like the song for whatever reason. But on that day, the lyrics that caught my attention were “…I could use somebody.…someone like you, and all you know, and how you speak….I hope it’s gonna make you notice…someone like me…”
Maybe it’s because I had met someone. I was smitten. I also knew that I could use somebody…somebody to be my playmate.
After the song finished on the radio I found a clip of it on YouTube and listened to it a few times. I listened to more K.O.L. songs that day. I bought some of their CDs. I went to 2 of their concerts over the next 16 months. Or should I say “we went…” My playmate and me, that is.
About a month earlier Shelly had posted a video clip of her and her oldest grandchild on Facebook. It was a brief snippet of them singing a song I’d never heard before. It was a catchy tune, but I never thought much of it until a bit later when we were at her son’s place and this song came on…and 6-year-old Casedy started singing it again. So did Casedy’s dad.
This time I got it…this wasn’t just a kid’s tune. It was a song for all of us.
Almost a year and a half later in Columbia, MO we saw Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros singing that song: “Home.” Lots of things had changed in that time…for the band and for me and Shelly. The female singer, who played a key role in “Home” and several of their other tunes had left the band. Shelly and I had been living together for awhile…there are a number of songs that have a “Shelly meaning” for me. K.O.L.’s “Use somebody”; Jackson Browne’s “Stunning mystery companion”; and “Home” are just three of them. “Holy moley, me oh my, You’re the apple of my eye…Home is wherever I’m with you…Home is when I’m alone with you…”
Back in late 2011 I discovered house concerts…what a great concept. So far, the only house concerts I’ve ever attended are at The Rock House in Reeds Spring…it’s a great venue, produced by 2 great people: Jeanette and Bruce. I’ve heard lots of songs for the first time at The Rock House, but one of them certainly belongs on my “first-time-tunes” list.
It was at the 3rd house concert I ever attended. November 12, 2011. A couple of guys who are in a band called The Rainmakers were the evening’s artists. Bob and Jeff had released a CD a couple of years earlier. The full band had released a reunion album called “25 years on” earlier in 2011. The band had been popular in the early 80’s. Newsday had called them “America’s Next Great Band”. There had been articles about them in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, USA Today and others.
I had never heard of them…at least consciously. Subsequently I realized that I had seen some of their videos in the early days of MTV…which I watched a lot in the early 80s, back when MTV aired nothing but videos. (What do they broadcast now?? I honestly don’t have a clue….mostly reality silliness, isn’t it?)
It was a packed house that November night. Jam packed. And deservedly so. How did the world miss out on this band? These guys are the real deal. Smart lyrics. Very smart lyrics. Maybe sometimes too smart, at least for some people. Their career was sidetracked when this KC-based band had the audacity in 1986 to release a song titled “Rockin’ at the T-Dance” which referred to the disaster when a skywalk collapsed at the Hyatt.
When they play near me, whether it be the front man solo, Bob and Jeff at The Rock House, or the 4-piece band, I will be there….for sure. I’ll want to hear this first-time-tune “Like Dogs” every time I see them, but if I don’t hear it I know it will still be a great experience. Have I told you that this band is the real deal?
Back in November of 2011 I was dating a woman who loved her dog more than she did most people, other than her daughters….well, at least 2 of her 3 girls anyway. I’m not much of a pet person. I’m OK with dogs and cats, but I never have had a pet, and I don’t see that changing. I am simply too irresponsible and too impetuous; that’s a story for another day. But because of my time with this woman and her daughter who lived nearby, and their dogs, I had developed a deeper appreciation for canines.
And even if I hadn’t, the first verse of this song hit me right between the eyes because of how directly it spoke about someone I’ve known for a long, long, very long time. “You’re the kind of man who seems to leave a trail behind him of friends who used to be so close, but then in some concocted scene they done you wrong, and so you write them off and bye-bye they are gone….”
The person who immediately sprang to my mind has never heard “Like Dogs”, and if he had he is such a narcissist that he wouldn’t really hear it. Oh well…
People that I know, or have known, spring to mind for each of that song’s other 3 verses. I’m not alone. Before I heard this song for the first time the singer-songwriter (Bob Walkenhorst….btw, he’s the real deal!) told the story about how this song came to be. He also relayed the fact that after it was released he received a few calls from people asking him if the song was about them.
There are some first-time-tunes that I haven’t listed.
I expect to have more FTTs in my future, in addition to the ones I’ve written about here. I could even include a couple of more songs from that night in mid-November, 2011: “the wages of sin” and “government cheese” have lines that are stuck in my head.
When music and lyrics and people and places come together it’s a very good thing. First-time-tunes are a very special thing.
“Here for a good time” by George Strait
“Mean” by Taylor Swift
“Use somebody” by Kings of Leon
“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes