I occasionally get songs stuck in my head that I haven’t heard in years, and it is always interesting to me why they surface. Recently, Janet Jackson’s “Someday Is Tonight” came to mind, and while I think a conversation might have triggered a lyric from the song, the return of the Rhythm Nation 1814 album cut was quite welcome. “Someday” featured on a few mixtapes of mine back in the day, and that got me thinking about songs that appeared the most on my mixtapes. I wrote about a couple of these over at Wacky on the Junk a few months ago, but here’s a small sampling of my “go-to” tracks:
Kate Bush “This Woman’s Work” – ”I know you have a little life in you yet/I know you have a lot of strength left” The mother of all mixtape songs. If you want a song to end a mixtape with on a huge emotional swoosh, this is the song for you. There is so much emotion that can be pulled out of this song, and sometimes an amazing song like this can be utilized even if the lyrics don’t necessarily match the intended tone. As long as the song adds to the musical landscape, it’s fair game. I never had a personal tie to the lyrics, but the song remains a modern pop masterpiece, whether you are talking about the original by Kate Bush or the remake by Maxwell.
Julian Lennon “Saltwater” – “We’re so ingenious we can walk on the moon” I have a soft spot in my heart for John Lennon in part because my mom has told me I’m named for him. I remember sitting in the bathroom with my mom the day that Lennon died because we had company over, and she was beyond emotional and couldn’t stop crying. So when Julian came along with Valotte, I felt like I had a bit more of a connection to John by proxy. It wasn’t until a few years later when Help Yourself was released that I saw Julian for more than just John’s son. “Saltwater” seems a bit hokey to me now, but at the time I thought it was extremely profound.
Indigo Girls “Power of Two” – “So we’re okay, we’re fine/baby I’m here to stop your crying” This one was a toss-up for me, because “Power” and “Language and the Kiss” both saw some serious usage, but I went with this because a) there’s actually a video; and b) “Power” was used in Boys on the Side, which I loved at the time. Depending on when and how I listen to it, the song is either about a couple surviving despite the obstacles, or a couple breaking up but having no regrets of the life they’ve lived together. Either way, it’s always Emily voice that speaks to me.
The Rembrandts “Confidential Information” – “Confidential information, in a dream a true confession/She didn’t mean to give away such confidential information” No video clip for this track anywhere, but I had to mention this LP track from their debut CD. “Just the Way It Is, Baby” was a bit of fresh air at the time it became a hit, and that pulled me into the full CD. I was pretty horrified when the Rembrandts became “the guys that did the Friends theme” because I didn’t feel like that was their best work. Then again, who am I to begrudge someone making a living?
New Radicals “Someday We’ll Know” – “Someday we’ll know why I wasn’t meant for you” New Radicals were a big sensation when they came out in 1999 because they gave people something to talk about. Whether it was the rap at the end of “You Get What You Give”, the developing enigma surrounding band mastermind Gregg Alexander, the little girl from Archie Bunker’s Place who had grown up and joined a rock band, or the freshness of the music in the midst of a lot of same-sounding tracks, I’m sure none of that attention was unwelcome. Looking back, I am pretty shocked that “Get” only made it to #36 on the Hot 100, although it was much bigger in other countries. For me, the bigger issue is that the follow-up single “Someday We’ll Know” never even charted in the US. “Someday” proves to me that Alexander wasn’t a musical flash in the pan, but to the general public, New Radicals will always be a one-hit wonder.
Prince “Adore” – “Until the end of time/I’ll be there for you” If I had to estimate what song I used on more mixtapes, it would be this one. Since “Adore” is the perfect finale for Sign O the Times, I would put it at the end of any mixtape with a romantic theme. [Honorable mentions for overused romantic songs went to “Follow My Rainbow” by Sheena Easton and “Arms of Orion” by Sheena & Prince] There is such a connection between Prince and his lady that you can’t help but want to feel that same type of connection yourself. From the first drawn-out “ooooooh”, Prince is talking about sex and love and devotion all at the same time.
So what would I put on my modern-day playlist to fill the moody, weighty, deep slot? After a quick glance of my music library from the past year, my mind immediately gravitates to Lady Antebellum’s “Hello World”, which I originally described as the heart of their Need You Now CD. Contemplative? Check. Powerful? Check. Hopeful? Checkmate.