The Wide Angle: Come on, I don’t want Backstreet back

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 9, 2017

Facebook, or as I’m calling it these days, that place where you say to yourself, “I’m just going to assume this is truthful — it’s got a flower and it’s written in calligraphy.”

And yes, while it’s a place to catch up with your friends or argue about senseless things, it’s also a good place for social experiments.

Let me test this for you.

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I had this thought the other day about this guy I know named Tommy. Used to work on the docks, the union of course was on strike and all I could really think of was, here’s a man that was down on his luck. It’s tough. Just so tough.

His girlfriend, Gina, well, she worked at the diner all day, working for her man — that’s Tommy. Every day she brought home her pay and all she could really tell herself was that it was for love. For love.

Now, after you’ve read all that, your next few lines had better be about holding on, ready or not:

Whhhooaaaaa, we’re half way there. Whooaaaaaaa, LIVING ON A PRAYER!

Of course that was Bon Jovi’s 80s mega hit “Livin’ On A Prayer,” and it was one of the catchiest songs you will ever hear, despite my own lack of musical ability.

A large majority of people like music or need music in their lives. I’m no different. The truly great songs, “Livin’ On a Prayer,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’” and Bobby Darin’s “Somewhere Beyond the Sea,” are those songs that you walk through the rest of the day humming, singing, worrying whether or not you’re getting the lyrics correct.

Go ahead and try to listen to Jimi Hendrick’s “Purple Haze,” after I suggest that it’s very easy to mistake the famous line, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky,” in the song for “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy.”

You’re welcome.

But there is a flip side to this as well. A darker side.

For each one of Bon Jovi’s great power ballads there’s Cisco’s “Thong Song.” Oh, it was a truly terrible song and good for nothing more than radio fodder. The lyrics were juvenile, the video was just plain god awful.

That’s the horrible reality of songs that get wedged in your head. It’s not always the song you want. Sometimes it’s horrible droning of “Thong, thong, thong, thong, thong,” over and over and over again.

It just never goes away and trust me when I say, nobody wants to walk around with Cisco replaying  in your head all day.

I proved this  phenomna the other day through Facebook when I randomly put out song lyrics from the song “One Night in Bangkok,” the only song that I’m aware of that speaks to dark and dingy world of underground chess … in Bangkok.

Listen, I can’t make any excuses for the 80s. It was a weird time to be a kid. Songs about underground chess, neon everything, notes folded into triangles — Zubaz.

At any rate, the first thing a friend of mine commented was, “Great, now that’s stuck in my head.” And I have to admit, simply writing this now, I can hear the words, backed by those Far East-tinged synth chords floating through my head.

“Siam’s gonna be the witness; To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness; This grips me more than would a muddy old river; Or refining Buddha.”

Music is just that way I guess. You want to sing the songs that you love over and over again. Why I can still remember, stopping, rewinding and playing again another hit by Bon Jovi, “Born to Be My Baby,” highlighted by the single word, “Na” sung over and over again at the beginning and the end of the song.

But for every “Na” there is always an awwww, because then songs I don’t want in my head, ram into the front of my mind like a runaway Mack truck, sticking there like an unwanted thorn.

I once admitted long ago that for the entirety of one day I was humming the Backstreet Boys’ “Backstreet’s Back.”

That’s not an easy thing for me to admit. Imagine me for a moment — long hair, metal bands such as Epica, Theatre of Tragedy, and Megadeth at my disposal — humming “Everybody … rock your body — Backstreet’s back, alright, hey baby?”

Even now, you can’t imagine the risk I’m taking just telling you this. My own sanity is at risk.

I guess though we’re all just strangers waiting, maybe up and down the boulevard or wherever. Shadows out, searching in the night, sometimes known as streetlight people. Those are the people that are just livin’ just to find emotion. Just hidin’ in the night.

So really just remember this one thing, don’t stop. Believin’ and hold on to that feelin’

Some songs will just help with the Journey.