Okay, I’m not Mr. Spock or anything, but most of the time I do try to be like the Fonz when it comes to hard-hitting, emotional moments. In other words, I try to play it cool. Real cool.
But every so often something hits me just right and it’s all I can do to hold things together. I never see this coming, by the way; it always appears out of nowhere, like a stealth ninja or the train in Stand By Me.
This has happened a lot lately. I’m not sure why. All I can tell you is it has something to do with country music. I don’t really listen to country a lot; loud guitars are usually my thing. I do like the old stuff like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, but I’ve never really gotten into the current Nashville scene. Maybe I need to rethink that a bit.
Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a story song.
Because recently – through no fault of my own – I’ve been systematically exposed to a few songs that hit me right where it hurts. Like I said, I don’t know why, but who can understand the human heart? Who can understand God’s mysterious ways? (Note: I paraphrased those last two questions from some classic work. I don’t know which one. Sue me.)
Anyway, I thought I’d share. They may not float your boat, but then your name isn’t at the top of this blog, is it? So yeah — deal with THAT. ☺
First up is a song by Chuck Wicks called “Stealing Cinderella.” This one gets major kudos from me, because even though I haven’t got a daughter, it still wiped me out. Probably because I could relate to it as “the stealer” – after all, I did ask Robin’s father for her hand in marriage. Old-fashioned? Maybe. Not doing it, though? Never an option. Here’s why.
I heard this next one right before Christmas. It’s called “In Your Dreams” by a guy named Zachary Hunter, and says a lot about long-lasting relationships. If you’re like me and you’re lucky enough to have found “the one,” this will strike a pretty resonant chord with you, I think.
I’ve mentioned this next one before and surprise, surprise — it’s NOT a country song. It’s U2 playing live – specifically, Bono singing about his father. He might as well be singing about my father too, because the dude just has the knack for crafting lyrics that, on occasion, can speak universally. Or at least to me. Called “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” I can’t listen to this song without choking up. Oh, I try; I can get through the first few verses, but when Bono finally bursts out with an ultra-cathartic “Can … you … hear … me … when I sing? You’re the reason I sing …,” well, I turn into a blubbering mass on the floor.
A few months ago, I heard my wife crying in the living room. Now, that’s not so unusual; it could have been a touching episode of Xtreme Home Makeover or a lawn mower commercial and the odds would’ve been fifty-fifty. But not this time. Some kind of country music awards show was on, and evidently Brad Paisley had just sung “the most wonderful song.” That song was “Waiting on a Woman,” and even though it contained exactly no lawn mowers, it touched me too. Plus, the video’s got Andy Griffith in it. What more could you want?
Waiting on a Woman - Brad Paisley
As for the next one, all I can say is that the world must be getting tired of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” because we’re getting some great songs about the father/son dynamic these days. And now that I’m a father AND a son – yeah, my head did explode just typing that phrase – I think I can be excused for being extra tuned in to this kind of sentiment. This one’s by Tim McGraw, and it’s called “Live Like You Were Dying.” His father Tug was a great pitcher for the Phillies while I was growing up, which makes it all the more impactful. Such a positive message, too; I love the idea of me happening to life, instead of the other way around.
I’m going to finish up with more U2. I realize this makes me look like the world’s biggest U2 fan, but believe me when I say that although I like them, I can only take their music in temporary doses. But this – THIS – isn’t just any U2 song. This was their performance at the 2002 Super Bowl, roughly four months after 9/11. Back when the healing had not yet begun (if it ever has). I keep telling people that this was one of the most amazing experiences of live TV that I’ve ever had, and for some reason, a lot of people seemed to have missed it. Well, I’m bringing it back. I know just watching it cold can’t possibly carry the same effect as it did at the time, but if you can think back to how injured we all felt back then, how everything had hit so close to home, and how raw that wound still was … as Edge starts up with the opening riff of “Where the Streets Have No Name” … 9/11 victims names start their endless scroll on a huge backdrop … and Bono says, “"Oh Lord, open my lips … and my mouth shall shout forth your praise" … and then “AMERICA!” … followed by a musical primal scream that – for me, anyway – summed up all the rage, frustration and helplessness we felt at the time … well, watching this again brings all that back to me. As they say, never forget.