Sunday, April 18, 2004

There's a million things to be, you know that there are.

There are a handful of movies for which I will abandon my life when I stumble upon them on TV, and Harold and Maude is right up there at the top of the list. Dammit, if that movie doesn't always make me happy. And, yeah, the story and the way it's told are great on their own, but you have to admit that the Cat Stevens soundtrack pushes your emotions even further into places you'd never thought they could go while watching a movie featuring a near-teenager sleeping with an 80-year-old woman. And I love those songs. In fact, I love a lost of Cat Stevens songs—as long as they're not the ones my crazy Stevens-obsessed choral teacher forced us to sing in the 5th grade. ("Morning Has Broken" and "Moonshadow," I'm looking in your direction.)

Anyhow, I love these songs and I'm glad to see others do as well. So, today is a celebration of songs that remind me of a movie that makes me intensely happy. Enjoy.

  • Death by Chocolate "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" (Cat Stevens cover)
    I'm warning you now, this is the only bearable track on Death by Chocolate's eponymous debut album. And it is intensely bearable, at least partially because it's one of the most charming songs ever written. And, as I've mentioned time and again, I've got a weakness for indie gals (sort of) harmonizing old songs into new ones—even when I suspect they were lame enough to use the name of an Eddie Izzard bit for a band name. Ugh. Talk about an overrated hack.

  • Kristin Hersh "Trouble" (Cat Stevens cover)
    My sole Kristin Hersh story goes something like this: Sometime in the early mid-nineties, my pal Ryan and I hit the local college town bar on dime beer night. The name of the band playing escapes me, but I don't believe it was one we actually liked. We were just bored and even the worst cover band can be surprisingly listenable when you need only spend one dollar to become totally plastered, yes? The place was, as you might predict, overrun with guys in flannel and baseball caps and gals likewise in flannel but in bell-bottoms or whatever ridiculousness was trendy back then. Ryan and I were the bespectacled townie (well, I was a drop-out, actually) types who looked out of place. You know, we were the kids that people would approach saying, "Hey! Buddy Holly glasses! Just like that song!"

    Anyhow, we're lurking near the restrooms when a clean-cut, flanneled type catches our eye and makes his way over to us. He says hi and then, pretty much out of nowhere, he asks us, "Hey, have you guys ever heard of Kristin Hersh?" We reply, that, of course, we have. Flannel's eyes light up. "Really?!" I tell him that I was just thinking of buying Hips and Makers the other day and Ryan says, "Yeah, I saw Throwing Muses open for REM on the Green Tour." Now Flannel's near ecstatic. Just as we're about to ask, "What's with the Kristin Hersh quiz?" he offers an answer, "I'm Kristin's brother!" Ryan and I smile and tell him something along the lines of "that's cool." He tells us he's in town visiting some friends or whatever.

    Now our story gets even stranger. Flannel Hersh wants desperately to convince us that he is, indeed, Kristin's brother and offers to "prove it" by showing us his ID. Um, we believed him. We tell him that's not necessary, but his hand is in his pocket and his wallet's out. Well, look at that. His last name is Hersh. Yay for him. Then I ask him, "So, does that mean Tanya [Donelly] is your sister as well?" He's shaky with excitement by now that we're hip enough to know his family's lineage (but, hey, we read CMJ when it was in the back-pocket size and Alternative Press back before it sucked, we know what's going on), "Yes! Tanya's my stepsister! I can't believe you know that!"

    So, there we are, me, Ryan and Flannel Hersh with nothing really left to talk about. Flannel then says, "Yeah, when I saw you guys walk in, I figured you'd know. You look, you know, 'cool.'" We nod our heads in understanding and, after what seems like hours but was probably only minutes, FH goes off to join his friends who were probably there because they actually did like the cover band.

    So, basically, drunken Flannel Hersh felt like bragging to someone about his big sis and knew—probably after much trial and failure with his non-"cool" friends (I mean, it's not as if he were Eddie Vedder's sister or anything)—that we were the only ones who would appreciate it. And we did. But not quite in the way he hoped, I imagine. I think we more appreciated it because it gave us a story to tell about how Kristin Hersh's brother was a little scary and overbearing. But, actually, it is nice that he was proud enough of her that he'd approach strangers to talk about her. I think.
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