Songs of Innocence and Experience

I’ve been reading Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, the audiobook version, and just got to this passage:

It was entirely possible that one song could destroy your life. Yes, musical doom could fall on a lone human form and crush it like a bug. The song, that song, was sent from somewhere else to find you, to pick the scab of your whole existence. […] Every time your sneakers met the street, the end of that summer, somebody was hurling it at your head, that song.

Forget what happens when you start haunting the green-tiled halls of Intermediate School 293.

September 7, 1976, the week Dylan Ebdus began seventh grade in the main building on Court Street and Butler, Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” was the top song on the rhythm and blues charts. Fourteen days later it topped Billboard‘s pop charts. Your misery’s anthem, number-one song in the nation.

I didn’t have it quite as bad as Dylan. But mine was a number-one song, too, so cloying that even now I can’t bring myself to put in a link, but it’s easily You-Tubeable, and those of my readers who are around my age have probably already guessed which song it is, a song that made me writhe in embarrassment, even more because so many people seemed to think I should like it, and if I looked angry, they’d say, “Uh-oh, I think storms are brewing…” Yes, it was Jefferson Starship’s “Sara.”

Who else has a song that made their lives hell, however briefly?

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  • Sara
    May 4, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I feel ya – that song was and is rough.

    On a positive note, are there any Sara songs you like? People often like Sara Smiles, but it never really took with me. But at least it’s not annoying when my SIL sings it to me. :) My favorite is “Sara” by Ween. Crazy effects and great memories for me. (I can email it to you if you’d like to take a listen.)

  • Delia
    May 4, 2008 at 11:10 am

    There’s a song called “Delia.” Country, I think. I’ve never actually heard it, and I’ve totally blocked who recorded it, but I’ve had the relevant lines or chorus sung at me more times than I can count. Which isn’t quite the same thing, but is related.

  • Katie Lane
    May 4, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Not a song, but a singer. When I was in high school, kd lang was a country singer, which wasn’t cool, even in Columbia, SC. I even think I came out a few months after her “Lawrence Welk” outing. People really want me to like her music, but I can’t.

  • vj
    May 4, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    You know, there’s still a song that every now and again raises its ugly head. Just the other day, I was on a library visit for my new job and was introduced to the head of reference there who began singing “Vicki Jean, she’s not my lover”. You know, there’s a reason why I introduce myself as vj. I had even managed to forget about that damn song and freaky Michael Jackson.

    To make matters worse, before Billie Jean came out, I got a red leather jacket from a friend. Oh dear g-d.

  • Dawn
    May 5, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Delta Dawn. I loath that song. So many hippie sang that to me as a child…I cringed every time.

  • Michelle
    May 19, 2008 at 1:19 am

    The Song came out the year before I was born, and though I was not named for it, I blame it for the fact that there were always at least two Michelles in every class I had until I graduated high school. And when I learned to sing in French, it hurt my ears to hear Sir Paul mangling the refrain.

  • Sarah Ockler
    May 21, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Sara –

    I was also tortured with the “Sara” song (still am, actually, you’d think people like younger than 30 wouldn’t know about that song but apparently they do!). But my “misery’s anthem” is definitely Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” which involved a boob graze from a boy at the school dance which I later referred to in a love letter to said boy.

    I might have also included words like “soul mates” and “connection.”

    The whole school saw that letter, I think. :-)

    Great site, by the way. I’m looking forward to checking out your books!


  • Victoria
    June 1, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Someone stalked me to the song “Rainbow Connection” once.