My husband turned 40 this week, so I wanted to honor him with a few thoughts on some the of the music he’s introduced me to over the years. When I hear any of this music I think of him, and some of these songs I’ve come to love precisely because they do make me think of him or of the memories we’ve made together.
You might be surprised by some of what made the list. Meeting Gerry opened up a whole new world to me in a lot of ways. One of the greatest gifts he has given me is an increased ability to see. When he watches movies (even before he took a couple of film classes), he sees so much more than the content. When he listens to music, he hears so much more than the lyrics. As long as I’ve known him, he’s had the ability to understand other’s points of view, to have empathy for where they’re coming from, and to appreciate true artistry, even if it’s outside the main stream. I see it in his personal relationships, too. He’s always made friends easily with people from other cultures. He frequently makes an easy connection with people who are a bit on the fringe for whatever reason. I’m grateful for his gift of seeing beyond the surface. I like to think it’s part of what drew us together, that we could see the depth in each other.
So here are my top ten albums, songs, or bands that may or may not be music I like to listen to, but that stir my heart nonetheless.
- The Boogie Nights soundtrack. “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key.” “I’m giving you the best of my love.” “I wish that I had Jessie’s girl.” Sing along everybody! All the songs from this movie were chart toppers in the 70s and early 80s. Boogie Nights was the first of 100s of movies that I watched with Gerry that I never would have seen otherwise. The opening scene and the New Year’s Eve scene are two of the longest takes in cinema history at almost three minutes each. This is precisely the kind of detail that I would not have noticed or known to look for, and certainly not appreciated. The first summer we were dating, I listened to both CDs of this sound track a lot. It was some of the only music we both wanted to listen to together. I still have them in an ancient CD cabinet in the back of a closet, and I still smile whenever I hear any of these songs and think about that first amazing summer of being in love.
- Missing Everything but the Girl. After that first magical summer, we dated long distance for the next nine months. It was his first year of law school, no small feat, and my first year of seminary. We both loved where we were, made great friends, did well in school but there was a lot of missing each other. “Like the deserts miss the rain” did not seem too dramatic. Everything But the Girl was one of Gerry’s favorite bands when we met, and this song is still the best.
- Hurt Nine Inch Nails. NIN is one of those bands that at one time I thought might be Satanic or something, just to give you a little insight into my background. Then I fell in love with someone who is a huge fan. There’s a reason Trent Reznor’s lyrics and music connected with our generation. He spoke unashamedly to the anger, the hurt, the abandonment just underneath the surface of youth. And any song that Johnny Cash covers in his later years must have some brilliance to it, right? Gerry understood Trent Reznor’s genius early on. Reznor won an academy award for the soundtrack of the movie Social Network just a few years ago. He’s grown up and so have we, but he still speaks to what lies beneath.
- Being Boring Pet Shop Boys. Before we had to incorporate Kidz Bop and One Direction into our car trip playlists, Pet Shop Boys were regulars. When I hear this song, I think of us in an old green Camry on I-35. I think the gist of this song’s meaning is that we had each other, friends, time, our minds, so we lived life and didn’t sit around worrying and feeling bored. Gerry and I both grew up as only children. One skill most only children develop is the ability to entertain themselves. Sometimes I think we actually like time to ourselves a little too much, and it’s hard to come by with three little kids in our house. It becomes a source of frustration. I also tease a lot that we are really boring people – home most weekends, at work or running kids around most weekdays. I’m sure some would consider our life right now as boring. But I rarely feel bored, especially when we’re together. And if I was going to be bored, I’d want to be bored with him.
- Enjoy the Silence Depeche Mode. I didn’t grow up under a rock in the 80s and 90s, so of course, I already really liked a few Depeche Mode songs but now I’m a true fan. We have a DVD of Depeche Mode live in concert that we’ve watched many times, and I can’t hear this song any more without seeing a younger long-haired Dave Gahan shirtless and dripping in sweat singing and dancing in front of neon screens. I could have picked 30 of their songs that remind me of Gerry, but this is one of my favorites. I think Gerry would agree with Martin Gore that there are many situations in which “words are very unnecessary.” Silence is a gift and so is the knowledge of when to hold your tongue. Gerry’s embraced both of these, and a lot of us have quite a bit to learn still, me most of all.
- No Ordinary Love Sade. Sade played in the background of a lot of the late night “talking” we did in the early days of dating. I like to think that what’s grown in us in the seventeen or so years since is no ordinary love.
- Need You Tonight INXS. INXS is yet another album that makes me think of tearing up I-35. The line in this song “All we’ve got is this moment/the twenty-first century’s yesterday” tickles me a bit as we sit here 17 years firmly into the 21st Century. We met in 1998, started dating in 2000. The 21st Century was so new and mysterious. We’d just survived the Y2K scare and adjusted to dating checks with a 4 digit year to prevent confusion. But 17 years later I’ve still got to let you know, Gerry, “you’re one of my kind”.
- Everlasting Light The Black Keys. Gerry taught himself to play the bass to be in the worship band when our church started a new service. He’d been part of the planning committee due to his expertise in postmodernism. It was an exciting venture to share in together. Gerry suggested this song and the band led it in church several times. The shoo-shoo-shoo-was were fun to sing, and I wish this song was still in the rotation.
- Call Me Up St. Lucia. St.Lucia is a newer indie electronic band and when it’s Daddy’s turn to plug in his music in the car, St. Lucia is usually in the mix. Their music makes me think of driving down I-20 in our mom car SUV, passing goldfish and fruit snacks to the back, which is just what our life looks like in this particular stage. I remember, though, when we used to have to call each other up on a touch tone phone using a calling card and cell phones were something you kept in your glove box for emergencies. Now we spend a lot of our evenings surfing around these crazy mini-computers we can’t leave home without. As one of my favorite memes ever says, “you’re my favorite person to lie in bed and look at my phone next to.” I’m also grateful for all the years we’ve lived under the same roof, in the same city, and that the days of waiting for Gerry to call me up are long gone.
- I Want More Faithless. If you don’t know this music, you should. I feel convicted by this song. “Hey friend, your misery bewilders me/how come you’re never satisfied or gratified/four walls n’ a roof, electricity/stable mind, wife and child/hot and cold water to run anytime/but still you whine/I want more.” I’m so guilty of always wanting more, of having eyes to see what we lack so much easier than what we have. But we have the world. I want to be the kind of person that wants more love, more patience, more gratitude, more time together, more of all the things that really matter in life. I’m so grateful for the life Gerry and I share together and for all he’s given me. I hope we have the next forty years to grow more and more into the people we’re called to be. Forty is just a number, and it’s way too small to contain the greatness of who he is to me. Happy Birthday, Gerry!
So what songs make you think of someone you love? Share it with me firstname.lastname@example.org!