Cassettes that Saved the World
When I was a kid, I would visit my dad every other weekend, and we had our rituals. He would always pick me up while the sun was up. Typically, as soon as he got off of work, and we would drive to his place with the radio off. It gave us time to talk, catch up on whatever we didn’t discuss on the phone that week and go over our plans for the weekend.
But he would always drop me off while the sun was down and didn’t do so much talking.
We just had a full weekend of talking. This was our time to relax, look out the window, and eat through his cassettes like a free buffet. There were four cassettes in particular that I would rotate through religiously:
1) Little Deuce Coupe by the Beach Boys
2) 4 by Foreigner
3) Spanish Train and Other Stories by Chris De Burgh
and 4) The Chipmunks Rock the House by The Chipettes
There were specific songs that stuck out to me because I was attracted to certain kinds of melodies. It’s hard to explain, but there’s just certain note combinations that create the kind of music I like trapped in my head. The squeaky, high-pitched Chipettes cover album is the only exception because it was such a cartoonishly weird project that appealed to children, such as myself, who loved eighties music AND The Chipmunks. Their cover of Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” was so overplayed on those car rides home I’m surprised my dad didn’t go bonkers.
Now, at the time, I thought the song was a Chipettes original. Apologies to any hardcore Roxette fans out there reading this.
But the song was this sweeping ballad.
I could picture the scene in my head. A girl is standing in the middle of a dance floor with white spots of disco light spinning all around her, everyone’s got someone, except her. AND THEN… from the crowd, emerges… THE LOVE INTEREST! The Love Interest is so dapper and debonair. We weren’t sure he would show up. But here he is. He walks up to her, slowly. She’s got tears in her eyes. In the background, we see The Chipettes take the stage and start playing, that’s right, “It Must of Been Love” originally composed by the smash artist, Roxette. That’s when the Love Interest says something cheesy like, “You didn’t think I’d live did you? Hell…I wouldn’t miss this for the word.” Then they kiss! And the song blasts! And we crane upwards over the dance floor where no one else is dancing. They’re all watching the beautiful couple whose love will last forever hold each other in an infinite embrace. Because no one has EVER witnessed a love as great as this.
That’s the kind of stuff I would think about on my rides home. Leaning against the passenger window picturing myself standing on a table in a bar, BEING the Jukebox Hero, right before I hope in my little deuce coupe and drive away.
But the tape that impacted me the most was Chris De Burgh’s. I think CDB is kind of written off as a cheesy artist from back in the day because most people only know Lady in Red. If you’ve never gotten into Mr. De Burgh’s work, something you wouldn’t know, is that he’s an amazing storyteller. No one applied storytelling to music quite the way he did though he was boring the style from an old tradition. It was losing its edge then and now it’s barely heard of.
When I think of my comedic influences, they are so rarely actual comedians. Usually it’s artists like Chris De Burgh who apply so much heart and intelligence and creativity into sharing a story.
The song that stayed with me for the rest of my life was called A Spaceman Came Travelling.
A spaceman came travelling on his ship from afar,
‘Twas light years of time since his mission did start,
And over a village he halted his craft,
And it hung in the sky like a star, just like a starHe followed a light and came down to a shed,
Where a mother and child were lying there on a bed,
A bright light of silver shone round his head,
And he had the face of an angel, and they were afraidThen the stranger spoke, he said “Do not fear,
I come from a planet a long way from here,
And I bring a message for mankind to hear, ”
And suddenly the sweetest music filled the airAnd it went La La La La La La La La La La
Peace and goodwill to all men, and love for the childThis lovely music went trembling through the ground,
And many were wakened on hearing that sound,
And travellers on the road, the village they found,
By the light of that ship in the sky, which shone all roundAnd just before dawn at the paling of the sky,
The stranger returned and said “Now I must fly,
When two thousand years of your time has gone by,
This song will begin once again, to a baby’s cry”And it went La La La La La La La La La LaThis song will begin once again
To a baby’s cry
And it goes La La La La La La La La La La Peace and goodwill to all men, and
Love for the child
Oh the whole world is waiting, waiting to hear the song again,
There are thousands standing on the edge of the world,
And a star is moving somewhere, the time is nearly here,
This song will begin once again, to a baby’s cry
I was lost in my thoughts. I would play this song over and over and over again. Rewind, rewind, rewind. I remember talking to my dad about the song and trying to figure out what it meant. I’m not totally sure, honestly I think it’s just a badass ballad about the power of music, but I thought to myself, “What if we’re everyone in the song?” The protective mother alone with her child, the stranger with a promise of peace to mankind, and the child whose cry releases the song that will save us all?
Now that I’m older, I cling onto those words, “…and love for the child.”
I don’t even want to go into why I cling onto those words.
I just want you to think about them too.