I recently found another route home from work. It takes about the same amount of time, but it’s not on the interstate which means there’s no braking suddenly at 70mph to make my butthole clench into something resembling a knot of chewed Tootsie Rolls (probably). Now I can look forward to my ride home as a ride home, and not dread it as the highly potential death of me.
When I was still taking the interstate home, I burned a CD of songs that most would consider to be…less than cool. Cheesy. Terrible, even. Not something anyone would want to admit to having in their possession, let alone listening to more than once a week. But I do have them in my possession, and I listen to them at least twice a week, sometimes more.
No, they’re not booty-poppin’ jamz, nor do I finally know who Ke$ha (did I do that right?) is. The songs I burned are power ballads, and fuck you if you have a problem with that.
I’m not ashamed. I mean, I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed. I made the CD for a reason. I made it to help me cope with a commute that made me terrified to drive home while also nursing a psychotic hatred of Seattle drivers. And it worked, sort of. It’s funny how your fear of dying can be quelled (somewhat) by a few minor chords and a simple strummy melody. It’s amazing how even though I know that most of the songs are bad, there’s something about them – how old I was when they were released, some dorky line that’s actually kind of good, even some crush I used to have on someone that can somehow tie into the lyrics – that makes me calm. I’d die if anyone ever heard me singing along, of course, which means I’ll have to find something else to soothe my nerves when the weather gets nice enough to roll the windows down.
Like hell I’m giving you the entire track listing. Even I have a limit to how much I’m willing to embarrass myself. Besides, that would be credibility suicide, and the kind editor who is so nice to me now might just drop me altogether for reasons that are at least semi-understandable. (So if he suddenly stops returning my e-mails, then I guess we all know what happened there.)
I will tell you about two of the songs on this power ballads CD, and I’m doing it because I actually, legitimately love them. You can agree with me or not, but I think I’ve proven before that at least my tastes have purpose, and you’re here, anyway, so why not read my argument?
1. “She’s Got a Way,” Billy Joel. The thing about Billy Joel is that he’s an amazing fucking artist and if you don’t agree then you’re an idiot and I will end your fucking life. Billy Joel can have as many divorces and run his car into as many trees as he likes, he still makes terrific songs and fucking owns them. He knows that some of them are cornball and that he’s generally uncool, but that’s his work and his life and he’s fine with it.
(Also he keeps pronouncing it “Brender” in “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant,” which is seriously my favorite part of the whole song.)
“She’s Got a Way” was apparently written for Billy Joel’s first wife, who he divorced the same year that “She’s Got a Way” peaked on the Billboard chart. Just so you know, I do see the irony there. But I also know that it has a beautiful, bang-easy piano melody, and that as silly as the lyrics sound at times, it’s still very sweet and thank god it’s not Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” which was the theme of one of my high school homecoming dances and has always sounded to me like some lady took a mentally retarded guy to a community center dance. Just seriously, listen to it. I’m not kidding you.
Billy Joel, you are a balladeer, a gentleman, and one hell of a model American. I love you.
2. “I Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven,” Bryan Adams. Look, I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry. But I can’t help it; I like Bryan Adams, and not just because he’s Canadian. I don’t like Bryan Adams enough to own more than six Bryan Adams songs, but I like him and I realize how dumb that seems, and blame it on the marketing of the 1993 film “The Three Musketeers” if you want, this song just does something for me. Even though it is pretty awful.
The concept of the song is that Bryan Adams never believed in love (or, as he calls it, “Heaven…[a] hideaway for the lonely”). That is, until a very special lady came into his life, and, in his words, “taught me to fly like a dove” making him feel as though he is simultaneously “fast asleep” and “drunk.” Although he “only wanted to stay awhile, only wanted to play awhile,” and he “never loved, swear to God, never needed no one ‘til you came along”, she changed him the night they did it, which he describes as “such a night I never had before…you made love to me like it oughta be.” It’s the cheesiest fucking song in the world and most of the time it makes no goddamn sense whatsoever, but fuck, I really like it.
A lot of Bryan Adams songs are like this for me (and by “a lot” I mean the six I own, and all of those are from his greatest hits album which I borrowed from my mom’s friend like seven years ago okay). Lyrically they’re a mess and can anyone really get behind a Canadian rock guitarist anyway, but…you know, I just can’t tell you. I can’t explain why I enjoy Bryan Adams so much, but you’d better believe I am feeling it when I’m driving home from work.
…I’m also really into The Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” and the Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Jealousy,” neither of which are on this CD but are equally ridiculous. You know, in case I haven’t convinced you how serious I am about this confession.