Soundtrack to my Life

A new feature here on “Unsquare Dance” as I was inspired by Christmas travel and jamming to my iPod down the highway…to go through my songs…and explain why I have them.

(No, it really doesn’t serve much importance, other than to be fun)

So I’m going to try to go through, a few at a time, and plow through my song library.  Should be interesting.

Now, I’ve also thought up a scale of certain factors to feature, as well as looking at lyrics now and then, maybe even videos.  I don’t know what order I want to go in – perhaps alphabetical by title so as to randomize? – but we’ll see…

Here’s the first one as an example though.  Sing along if you know the words…

Cake – The Distance

Where you’ve heard it:  Well 1996 for starters.  I vaguely remember it being somewhere in the summer when I first saw the video on MTV (yeah, even in 1996 they still had videos … )  Oddly, at first, I didn’t like the song.  I guess I didn’t get it?  But the more I saw the video and heard the song, the more it grew on me.  Maybe it’s the quirky delivery of John McCrea, maybe it’s the melodica…but I’m pretty sure it’s the distinctive guitar riff.  This is classic alternative rock, and Cake is one of those bands I never think about how much I like them until each time I hear a song by them.  Then I think “Oh man…Cake is like, one of my favorite bands now that I think about it”.

The Distance, lyrically, is about perserverance of sorts.  But also a bit about missed connections.  The lyrics tell a sort of story about a race that has been long over, yet one lone driver will not give in.  She’s moved on, but he “still burns”.  Yet no matter how fast he may go, the race is over.  He just doesn’t realize it, and thus, he’s going the distance.

Rock Band Factor (RBF): Out of the many many songs that need to be put onto Rock Band, this is my first choice.  All essential elements are there: a good guitar part, a good bass part, good drums, good vocals.  Plus it’s recent enough to still be popular and recognizable, but old enough to have that “retro” feel that always provides a nice reaction upon discovery (Hey…Cake on Rock Band!)  This NEEDS to be on Rock Band, so it gets an RBF of 10.

Car Belting Factor (CBF): I don’t sing…for the good of all humanity.  But if I’m in my car, driving alone on a long trip, or if I’ve had a few beers and feeling good, maybe I’ll belt something out.  The Distance isn’t anything too crazy, and it’s really half-sung, half-rapped, so it’s pretty easy to get into…because it’s still fairly accessible in any setting, though, it gets a CBF of only 6.

Guilty Pleasure Factor (GPF): There are just some songs I have that either started as a joke that turned terribly wrong, resulting in my liking the music (Journey), or just something fun and quirky.  This song rocks, and it rocks in a legitimate way, rather than a self-deprecating or ironically humorous way, so it only gets a GPF of 4.

Overall: I mean, this song rocks.  Just face it.  It’s instantly recognizable, and if you get it in your head, it’s not even that annoying.

Let’s try another one…

Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

Where You’ve Heard It: A little movie called “Top Gun” perhaps?  Or have you been to a wedding recently?  Otherwise, any oldies station is probably obligated to play this song at least once a day.

Silly me, I didn’t even realize until checking the youtube video that these two were white…they have that Rick Astley “white guy with black voice” thing going on.  I like this song because it’s dynamic and energetic.  It builds, it rises.  There’s passion in it in a “kick the chair out of the way” fashion.  Also…I mean it was on Top Gun…

RBF: Really couldn’t adapt this to Rock Band.  Nor should you…let’s move on.

CBF: It’s like these guys knew about my rating system when they wrote this song because it is ideal for car singing.  Or bar singing.  Or karaoke.  Or, yes, weddings.  If you’re going 70mph on I-70, your car don’t care if you hit the high note.  Just keep singing.  Plus, as an added fun feature, you can stumble through the second verse because I defy you to find anyone who knows it.

GPF: The high CBF lends itself to a high GPF because it’s a song that should be sung badly in some situations.  In the bar in Top Gun, for one.  Or, yes, weddings, which is derived from the aforementioned Top Gun scene.  About four years ago, I was the best man in a wedding to a couple who are both musically skilled and appreciative of musical skill.  So what better way to honor that than to get groomsmen and usher alike gathered in the middle of the floor singing off-key and jumbling lyrics?  It’s perfect.

We were so good at being so bad, the flower girl was laying on the ground covering her ears.


Overall: All odd references aside, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” really holds up well for an oldie.  No matter what, it’s going to be good and it’s going to be powerful.  Also, it’s one of those songs that can’t really be covered because nobody will try to top it, and it doesn’t translate to a cover anyway.  Those Righteous Brothers were mighty clever…


~ by Michael Engel on December 26, 2008.

One Response to “Soundtrack to my Life”

  1. This segment rules. If it continues, I will read this shit daily. Of course, until then, hopefully you give a facebook plug again, or I never would’ve known this thing existed.

    And I know the 2nd verse to the Righteous Brothers. So suck on that.

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