Some time ago, I couldn't quite tell you when, maybe 2004, I posted to Livejournal about a song that was once stuck in my head but whose (is "who" appropriate for a song?) details I could scarcely remember. The details as I recalled them were a female singer, sometime in early to mid-90s, kind of a pop-rock sound, and a lyrical refrain composed of two parts, the first part being something along the lines of "let's get drunk" and the second half being "let's have a fight" and I thought it went something like "something something get real drunk and have a good fight" but it could have been "Let's have a beer and fight it out" or "I got drunk and got into a fist fight". I vaguely, VAGUELY, remember the song's theory being something of an epistle to the singer's mom. The full lyric, then, would have went along the line of "Mother, I'm gonna get real drunk and have a good fight".
In all this time that I have thought about it, searched for it, and stuck it on my website; I have received no follow-ups, no inspirations, and no further details. I am right where I was. For whatever reason, it came back to me, today, both the lyric and the frustatingly pointless search for the her involved.
I vaguely remember walking down to my family's barn with the song stuck in my head. I vaguely remember this being when I was a teen (my teenage years, like most people's teenage years, was when the radio became my refuge). I was probably listening to Evegreen's, actually Pensacola's, equivalent to Huntsville's 95.1: rock, metal, prog rock, and rockish pop. The reason I liked the song was because I have had, since I have been about fourteen, something of a crush on rebellious and strong-willed women as a collective whole. The idea of a singer out on her own for the first time and making mistakes but somewhat delighting about them was awesome to me.
Except I am thinking that song may have never happened. This is why. Memory is a fake thing. Most of us don't admit it, most of us may not even know it, but we rarely "remember" anything. What we tend to do is remember something like an HTML code that tells our mind where to put the various pieces. In something like more technical speech, we match memes to lexemes and generate a memory out of likely-match memes that fit our sum total of lexemes. What this means is this... Think of a tree in your grandparent's backyard when you were a kid. While we think we are remembering said tree, what is most likely happening is that we are reconstructing "backyard" and "tree" and "backyard" tree and such into a rough resemblance of what the tree actually looked like. The tree in our memory is likely way more general than we think. Some of us have a huge range of memes matched to fairly specific lexemes in our "memory", but this explains why eye witnesses have trouble remembering murderers and what actually happened at the intersection. They are not remembering the intersection, they are re-member-ing an intersection. That is a big difference.
What's more, Earworms, songs that get stuck in your head, not some sort of terrifying insect, can often lead to mondegreens, meaning misunderstood lyrics. Basically, you hear a song, the bastard gets jammed into memory, often without complete knowledge of the lyrics, and you find yourself humming the wrong thing. One of my favorite gaffes in this sort was when I sung "I lost my thrill, on Blueberry hill" in front of a small crowd and someone pointed out I made a mistake. I had that song recurring in my head for years, but never realized I substituted "lost" for "found".
I'm thinking that I mondegreened this one. What the original song was, who knows, but at some point in time I took the lyrics and added the words drunk and fight to them. Go back to my crush on the riot grrrl collective. For all I know, the lyrics were about "Who thought I would have to fight" or maybe "I'm going to drink away the night" or whatever. Giving something like credence to the mondegreen + "re-member-ing" theory is the Tracy Bonham song "Mother, Mother" which is undoubtedly the core song. It has lyrics about "I'm sober sure I'm sane" about being a "bad" girl "hiking up her skirt" and "trying a little tobacco" and, most importantly, the line "Im your perfect dear now just cuddle up and sleep tight". That is only about thirty seconds from being translated into "Let's have a beer and then a good fight" if I misheard it the first time. Maybe I listened to some of my Irish pub music right after that? Maybe there as another song by Ani Difranco or Indigo Girls or PJ Harvey or Jane Siberry or any other number of angry women singers with a good voice and strong message? I have no idea, but I am willing to think that I stapled wrong, mondegreened, lyrics on Tracy Bonham's song and have been hunting for snip this whole time.
This is going to be my response to coming to this fairly strong conclusion: I am going to write a poem based on the lyrics as I remember them. Kind of. Expanded and slightly retooled, but it will take what I have thought the song was about the whole time and what Tracy Bonham's song was kind of about but not quite "fisty" enough: a young woman who is delighting in her newfound freedom though admitting that she is engaging in destructive behavior. Admittedly, strangely creepy for a 31 year-old man to write, but less so than Tom Wolfe's 750 page tome about, essentially, his daughter losing her virginity. What I am going to do is try and think back to when I was 16, kind of angry and not quite yet a poet, spending of most of my time in isolation with just books and music as common friends. I am going to listen to music from the time, get back into the mindset, and then I am going to write a "love poem" of an ironic sorts to, say, a slightly older girl that I might have had a crush on.
Then I am going to post the sucker to my blog and website and one or two things is going to happen. Either I am going to get a notice to take it down by the copyright holder, in which HURRAH I have found the song, or I will put the song to rest for once and for all.
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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"The hidden is greater than the seen."