Sunday, June 19, 2005

Five Songs That Remind Me of Girls That Broke My Heart

(there are no MP3s in this post)

This was an outgrowth of something Eric of SiLT requested. I was kind of kidding when I told him "fuck you" or words to that effect -- I don't remember death threats but it's entirely possible. Anyway, the request for songs that I listen to a lot turned into the following:

Five Songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me That Remind Me of Girls That Broke My Heart:

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" - Unknown Artist In sixth grade, I was enamored with this song just as I was enamored with the gray-complexioned, button-nosed and extremely tiny Kris. Her long brunette hair went down back sweeping over her backside as she walked. Her nickname was "Peanut" but she didn't like that name so I never called her that. She was rumored to be the niece of a famous baseball pitcher. She was part of the popular kids clique and I was just a lowly geek without any real clique to run with outside of the AV and student newspaper crowd. I once drew a picture of her supposed Uncle ballplayer (actually traced from his baseball card) and was too shy to give it to her so I put it on the close circuit TV show that showed before classes started. I let it be known that I had drawn it for her but she never acknowledged it so maybe no one ever told her (some of my "friends" teased me about it for weeks). In my next attempt to get her attention I gave this 45RPM single to her as it was the most valuable thing I had in my possession at the time or so it seemed to me. I loved the harmonies that comprised the hook - they were obviously meant to melodically emulate the sounds of the jungle (Weem-mo-let-a, Weem-mo-let-a). When her friends were out of site, she came by and spoke to me through the batters cage that anchored the baseball diamond where I was playing catcher. She spoke to me quietly and so as not to attract the notice of her friends and others and thanked me for the gift and said it was "nice" but that she just wanted 'to be friends' - that is, if the unspoken definition of friend was someone you can never been seen talking or acknowledging their existence. I once covertly spoke with her on a field trip bus ride. She was seated alone in front of me and I was behind her. We talked about our families and I even got her to laugh. It was the closet thing to a date we would ever have (at least in my mind, I think she was just passing time). I can't remember who did this song - this might have been the version by the Tokens - but I'm not sure. I got sad when I would hear this song for years after and embarassed that I gave her the record.

"Tramp" - Bachman-Turner Overdrive - Lisa was another tiny girl but she was the opposite of Kris, a total tramp and this was already in the sixth grade. She wore hip hugger jeans, a big wide belt buckle, blue eyeshadow and Windsong perfume that mixed with her pertual smell of menthol cigarettes. We sat in the same "pod" which was the current vogue in teaching, or at least my school's interpretation of it. Mainly it was four or six desks pushed up next to each other. Some projects would be handed out to work on as a group. Lisa wasn't the smartest pea in our pod and so I subtly helped her with some of her math, careful never to make her appear a fool in front of the others. Her handwriting was still 3rd grade-ish. Still, I was intoxicated by her image (and the Windsong) and I had my first boner thinking of Lisa S. This song by BTO came off an album I stole from Two Guys (RIP) department store. Unlike my previous attempt to win love by giving her the record, I asked her if she had heard the album. Turns out she did and she liked it. We bonded over it. Again, class differences and my basic fear of hanging out with all the tough kids she had befriended precluded any other romance. I hear she is now a hairdresser and has kids and participates in fund-raisers.

"Beth" - Kiss. I really hated Kiss because of the people in my junior high who loved Kiss. They were the mean jocks and the rich stoners - they truly were the evil ones of my high school and often hung together. I looked up to the "good jocks" and liked the Vo-Tech stoners (Lisa was by this time one of them) and I even got along with the rich (non-stoner) snobs. I was against everything the rich stoners and the mean jocks were about and so if they were for Kiss then I was naturally against them. Partly in reaction/rebellion, I became a vocal and proud fan of singer-songwriters like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, who, to me, were the anithesis of Kiss (this was before I had even heard the word punk). I even wore a Bruce t-shirt and did so proudly. It was orange and it had a large Bruce iron-on patch that my Mom pressed for me even as she was later horrified to see me wearing it to school. On Saturday nights in the Spring and Fall, the local Lutheran church sponsored a teen dance. I would go to it with some neighborhood friends and mostly sit on the chairs that lined the walls. Eventually, I screwed up my courage (egged on by my pals) to ask some girls to dance. Since I only knew how to slow dance, I had to wait my turn. If you waited too late and asked a girl to dance and it became a fast tune, you felt totally asinine jumping about. Plus slow dances meant you got to hold them. One blonde Lutheran girl (I was Catholic) had caught my eye for several weeks. She was a year younger than me but I really dug her fresh innocence and blonde hair/blue eyes. I finally convinced myself to ask her and when a slow song finally came on (it seemed like ages waiting for it), I walked quickly up to her and asked her for the dance. She said yes! Then I realized it was this song by my most hated group. I sighed, swallowed my pride and we shuffled around the floor but we weren't in sync - my version of the fox trot shuffle was different than the version she had learned (perhaps it was that Lutheran-Catholic thing at work). She smelled of a musky perfume that reminded me of burlap bags and spice. She may have been embarrassed by our awkward dancing and so she whispered in my ear, "can I put my feet on top of yours?" I was smitten. We danced the rest of the song with her patent leather shoes resting on top of my black tie shoes. I don't think I touched the ground the rest of the night. I can't remember her name but I always remember this song with some nostalgic fondness.

"Strange Days" - The Doors. Oh Patty. The archetypical hippy chick from college - she reminded me greatly of Lisa (see above) but was way smarter. I first saw her in the dinner hall at my college. She was wearing a dark blue down jacket, very faded and ripped jeans and a tight t-shirt - the overall effect was slatternly and I dug that... She, like her like-minded friends, were so obviously stoned. I laughed as she poked around the salad bar. She slouched when she walked with her tray and her friend said something and she just stopped in the middle of the hall and laughed out loud. My legs turned to water hearing her laugh. So, I admit it - I stalked her. How else would I figure out how to meet her without coming off like a total goon? I observed her friends. Two of them were this mousy little guy and this tall, also perpetually stoned, skinny guy. One night I was walking home from studying as I used to go find empty rooms in the classroom buildings to escape the din and distraction of the dormitories and came across Mouse and Tall, Stoned Guy. They were sitting in the commons strumming guitars and a geeky looking ROTC guy was playing stand-up bass. I recognized them immediately and I told them, "don't go, I'll be right back." On one hand, I wanted to just jam but on the other hand I was going by the maxim of "become friends with her friends and you'll become friends with her.' I rushed back to my dorm room, upsetting my football playing roommate (who was also perpetually stoned). I rifled through my tiny clothes closet and pulled out some cymbals, my snare drum and my drummer's throne and rushed back to the Quad. Mousy and Tall Guy were still there strumming and they broke up when they saw me coming with drumming equipment. I set up and we've been playing together ever since. And yes, I did meet Patty and became, of sorts, a friend to her or at least an acquaintance. She was very honest with people and once told me to my face that I was 'dumpy'. She was a cool geology major (all the geology majors were cool) and I was a nerdy industrial engineering and operations research major - the type of major that you always had to explain what it meant. Despite her brutal honesty, I could often talk with her for periods of time and elicit some wild story or get her to laugh. She was fun to be around and we both proudly shared our eclectic interest in music - she introduced me to Rick James and Grandmaster Flash, I brought her Return to Forever and Stanley Clarke. I slept off a drunk-drug binge at her house once or twice, usually on the dusty sofa that had been moved onto the porch. But, too bad, she had no use for me as a boyfriend and preferred men who would treat her as a 2nd-tier booty call. I became friends with one of these boyfriends (can you see the pattern here?) and found he kept her phone number right under the phone number for pizza. He was very handsome and had no trouble finding women. Even though I liked him, he was a total self-absorbed (like Patty) lout. If he happened to strike out with one of his dates, he told me he'd either call for pizza or call for Patty. Sometimes, he bragged, he even told her to bring pizza and she would, even paying for it herself. What's worse was she didn't have a car and would have to hitchhike out there (he had a motorcycle and two helmets and could have easily ridden into town to pick her up). His roommate, who also became a friend, told me that once he (the boyfriend) called for her and by the time she arrived, pizza under her arm, he had passed out. This tragedy only made me love her more. Once, me and some friends went to Pittsburgh to see The Grateful Dead (shut up) and we found her there. She was a Pittsburgh native and we stayed overnight at her parent's house and gave her a ride back to school. Her Dad was a former train engineer and seemed more like a grandfather than a Dad. I had no idea how Patty turned out so wild as her parents seemed totally normally, although a bit more liberal than my own parents. She had a terrific capacity for booze. I often saw her drinking straight from a bottle of Jack Daniels. She would brag, swaying about with the bottle that she had also taken qualudes and mushrooms (her favorite drug of choice). Most parties would end with Patty passed out on the floor. Drugs were heavily used in those years and life became surreal. Her friends used needles although I'm pretty sure Patty stuck with ingestibles and shied from the white powders. The Doors were a perfect soundtrack to life during those years. I made this tape for her from the album because her tape broke. This song off that album seemed to represent that time and makes me think of her. I hope she's still alive and happy. I've danced around the subject with Mousy and Tall, Stoned Guy and they're evasive about her - they heard this or that from a friend of a friend. In a way, if it hadn't been for her, I might have stayed in my shell and never met all the fascinating people that I did, some of whom became lifelong friends.

"Made to Be Broken" - Soul Asylum. In my third year at college, I met Colleen. She had doe-like green eyes with curly reddish-brown hair and one of the most perfect hour glass butts I had ever seen. We began a long friendship that was never consumated. She confided in me, as I found she had told all her "friends who were boys" that she was a virgin. That only made her all the more desirable in my mind and I pursued her through the years. We did all the things - exchanged mix tapes -- she had an affinity for obscure S.F. 60's hippy music and I made sexy Prince tapes. After college, she moved to DC and, though I was living in Baltimore, I came up with constant excuses to spend time with her. I once took her to the movie "Liquid Sky", a punk Sci-fi film that had a scene in which two lesbians rub up against each other, crotch to crotch. Afterwards, she asked me why the one girl screamed - she wasn't only a virgin, she had never had an orgasm. We went to the Prince movie and she sat there more wide-eyed than usual as the Purple One felt up Apollonia. Even a few years out of school living in the big city, she was still a virgin! We went to a Husker Du concert at the old 930 club and Soul Asylum opened up. She disliked Husker Du but fell in love with Dave Pirner. They played this hokey countryish song and I realized it would never work with her. How cheesy and cliche that this song was about my heart! In a way, my mind was made up when she rejected Husker Du who were to me the best band around at the time. That night she told me she was in love with one of those "boys who are friends" - "I love this boyfriend" as she told me. She started rejecting my excuses to spend time with her (old habits die hard) in favor of him. He married her and they moved to Hawaii where I believe they live today.

6 comments:

thenoiseboy said...

Totally off topic, but have you ever heard Earle Mankey's cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"? Maybe his version you could enjoy free of memories...?

Jim H said...

A lot of people have covered this song and I've long gotten over my adolescent confusion and shame. Almost. But thanks for caring.

Eric said...

What an excellent post. Once again, apologies - now please stop sending porno catalogs to my house.

m said...

I was at that same Soul Asylum show in DC and loved the hokeyish country song...

In fact I mention the same gig at my "BLAHG" today...

Enjoy da music ...if ya can't enjoy the girls

Jim H said...

When I wrote the part about Soul Asylum, I didn't know Karl Mueller had died. A coincidence.

timsum said...

I also realised it wouldn't work with a lass I was head over heels for when she asked whether Husker Du's Celebrated Summer was by Meat Loaf...