Monday, March 29, 2010

Mood Music

Here's How I Feel Right Now

One of the great things about seeing movies is that most of the heavy mental lifting is done for us. We never have to wonder what a character is feeling or thinking at any given time, because the soundtrack immediately tells us. Personally, it’s a huge relief. I only have so many brain cells to spare. This is particularly true for romantic comedies or pseudo-serious dramas. Upbeat love songs inform us when two characters are falling in love. Sad love songs tell us when two characters may not make it, or must overcome great odds – like time travel or prison – to be together. Without these catchy, instructional melodies, we might not follow the plot as well. Confusion might send us running out of the theater, demanding a refund.

Fortunately, music is always there in the background, often drowning out the dialogue in an effort to guide us toward a better understanding of the film. For instance, we might not get that a love scene is about to get going without Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”  If we know that movie sex is imminent, we’ll put off a quick trip to the bathroom until it’s over.  For movie sex, we're willing to hold it. 

On the other hand, if the female star strolls down the street, all upbeat and feisty, we instantly recognize that she’s scouting for new love, as opposed to a sale on shoes, the second “It’s Raining Men” by the Weathergirls kicks in: 

Humidity is rising/Barometer’s getting low/According to our sources/The street’s the place to go/Cause tonight for the first time/Just about half past ten/For the first time in history/It’s gonna start raining men!

Of course, the inherent danger with “It’s Raining Men” in a movie soundtrack is we might jump up from our seats, forget we’re at the movies and not at a bar mitzvah or wedding, and start dancing down the aisles, singing “I’m gonna go out, I’m get let myself get, absolutely soaking wet!” This has happened to me several times.  My children still haven't forgiven me.

While I'm grateful for any guidance, musical or otherwise, I just wish that my own life were accompanied by an informative movie soundtrack. Imagine the possibilities. Everyone would know how I’m feeling at a particular moment. They’d know when to back off, approach or proceed with caution. As it is, everyone walks around in their own private world, listening to their IPods, tuning out the human race. They program their own music based on their mood at the time. We’re already half-way there. I’d like to crank up the volume and let people into my own private hell, glee or combination of both, depending on the circumstance.

Anytime I enter a business meeting, I’d blast “Suddenly I See” in the background to advertise my strengths.  Here’s how I see it. I walk into a room and face a couple of prepubescent executives who weren’t even alive during the Clinton administration. Finding common ground with these minors is going to be tough. But before they have a chance to pre-judge me based on my lack of tattoos, hip attire or nose rings, KT Tunstall’s female empowerment song explodes through my portable speaker system:

Her face is a map of the world/Is a map of the world/You can see she’s a beautiful girl/She’s a beautiful girl/And everything around her is a silver pool of light/The people who surround her feel the benefit of it/It makes you calm/She holds you captivated in her palm…

Whatever ageist thoughts might be rumbling around in their tender heads would no doubt give way to an unfamiliar openness to anyone over 40. As long as they don’t call me ma’am after that, I’m home free. The less said the better. For challenging vehicular matters, I’d have a speaker affixed to the roof of my car to alert thoughtless drivers that I’m onto them, and I’m not going to take it anymore. They may think it’s okay to change lanes without signaling, until they hear Rancid's "Get Outta My Way" and realize they’re messing with the wrong bee-yotch:

Get outta my way get outta my way/Go ahead start causing trouble/Get outta my way get outta my way/Who do you think you are/Do you think you’re some kinda cop/Why did you come along you’re a f'n’ cop!/Kid get outta my way kid get outta my way/Kid get outta my way kid get outta my way (repeat)/Get out... of my way!

As I go about the daunting task of installing speakers throughout my universe, I’m open to suggestions. Share your personal soundtrack favorites and I’ll add them to my play list.  Come on, people.  Let's spread the hostility (and joy) around.

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