Earlier this week, two posts about music and the passing of time caught my eye. One is from a favorite website of mine for a laugh, Passive-Aggressive Notes.com, entitled “Do we look like the kind of store that sells “I Just Called to Say I Love You?”
The other, “29 Albums That Are Now 20 Years Old,” was posted by a friend on Facebook as a stark reminder of our age, or perhaps more optimistically put, our wisdom.
For those of you with a love for either the writing stylings of Nick Hornby and/or John Cusack movies, you may recall the title of the former from the film version of a favorite book, High Fidelity. As the quote suggests, much of the plot revolves around a small record store where the owner Rob Fleming (Gordon) and his quirky but knowledgeable employees are at times overbearingly judgmental in their musical prowess. As such, the book and movie are scattered with numerous occasionally bizarre or pretentious Top 5 lists created by Rob and co., including top five Elvis Costello songs and top five Best Side One Track Ones.
So, inspired, I’ve decided to create my own top 5 song list that may have particular significance for the 30 something crowd (sorry kids) in our formative years…
1) Jump Around, House of Pain (1992)
Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin….
While perhaps the most translatable across ages on the list, there’s nothing like a throng of junior high school kids incited into “soft rapping” and free-for-all dancing, c’mon you remember that party… And even now, it can’t be helped, after all as the song says, you came to get down didn’t you? “So, get out your seats and jump around.”
“Do you have the time to listen to me whine, about nothing and everything all at once?” The lyrics accurately and ironically capture the internal confusion, frustration and angst of being a teenager with a beat that has just enough edge to make you feel a little bit punk. There is nothing like rockin’ out to this song at a high school dance while secretly lamenting that Student Council election defeat in spite of your awesome speech…or maybe that’s just me.
Speaking of anger, Alanis gained fame for this single describing the aftermath her ex-lover left as suggested by such infamous and undeniably satisfying lines, “It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced, are you thinking of me when you f*** her.” No lamenting, no I want you back business, Alanis was hurt and she’s not afraid to let “Mr. Duplicity” and the rest of the world know it. And 18 years later, one can’t help but wonder if “every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it…well can you feel it?”
And this song did linger…well into my subsequent high school years with a comforting sound that helped define the other, softer side of alternative rock in the 90s, stepping into the genre now dubbed as “Indie rock.” Taking the opposite approach to Alanis, vocalist Dolores O’Riordan sweetly yet firmly confronts the wrong doing of her lover while admitting vulnerability to matters of the heart in asking, “Were you lying all the time, was it just a game to you; But I’m in so deep, you know I’m such a fool for you, You got me wrapped around your finger, do you have to let it linger?”
The list wouldn’t be complete without reference to DMB, a band that has now played a prominent role in high school and college years across ages. But, despite the band’s more timeless “anthems,” this song was perhaps most played and personally most fitting at the time of its release. Encapsulating both teenage boyhood dreams and simultaneous illusions of Dave Matthews as a sweet, sensitive crooner, the song makes the line to “Hike up your skirt a little more and show the world to me,” seemingly inoffensive to a naïve and idealistic 16 year old female.