I was on the phone with Liz yesterday and we were talking about my upcoming visit, during which we’ll take a side trip to Atlantic City. I’ve always wanted to see it even though it’s not the same as it was in its heyday, and Liz says that it’s pretty much the only big stretch of New Jersey beach we haven’t checked out, so I’m in.
As we were talking, I said, “I was listening to my ‘Wanderlust’ playlist on Spotify yesterday and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ came on! I LOVE THAT SONG. It’s so beautiful!”
Then I thought for a second, and said, “Wait, well, I love it but actually I’m pretty sure the lyrics are depressing.” Indeed.
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus
Everything dies baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City
But that’s what I do. While I can get completely pumped up by the music of Pitbull and Bruno Mars and Fallout Boy, for some reason I get equally excited (as in happy) when a song containing sad or tragic lyrics comes on.
Years ago I told my sister that “Moby’s ‘Southside’ makes me SO HAPPY!!!”
weapons in hand as we go for a ride
some may come and some may stay
watching out for a sunny day
where there’s love and darkness and my sidearm
My Facebook friends are well aware that I get downright giddy when “Picture”, by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow comes on, especially when I’m in my car and can sing along with the windows down and sunroof open:
I called you last night in the hotel
Everyone knows but they wont tell
But their half hearted smiles tell me
Somethin’ just ain’t right
I been waitin’ on you for a long time
Fuelin’ up on heartaches and cheap wine
I ain’t heard from you in 3 damn nights
Heck, it’s been going on since I was a teenager. Did you know that Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” is actually about a 1981 riot in the Brixton area of London?
And-and a lots of work to be done
No place to hang out our washing
And-and I can’t blame all on the sun
I LOVE THAT SONG. It’s so…bouncy! But riots.
Perhaps my favorite example? Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” and the original German language version, “99 Luftballons”, which I actually prefer (and can still keep up with most of the German when singing along). The “translated” version is slightly different but generally they’re about a bunch of children’s balloons floating over the Berlin Wall into the Soviet sector (when there were two Germanys, kids!), and when they are fired upon because the war minister can’t identify the balloons, nuclear war commences. Wheeeeee!
Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine, it springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
As 99 red balloons go by.
I don’t do Karaoke, but if I did, “99 Red Balloons” would be my go-to.
So maybe my sense of Music Appreciation is a little warped because I allow myself to be carried away by the overall musicality rather than lyric analysis before I get too attached. I’m okay with it. I bet The Boss, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Eddy Grant, and Nena are fine with it too.