take back the song
There’s no need to explain. Really.
I know you don’t have anything against “Piano Man.” Maybe you even used to sing along when you heard it on the radio. But then, by some cruel twist of Muzak fate, it became the theme song for your root canal and hearing about Davy who’s still in the Navy has been making you wince ever since.
How about when “Start Me Up” accompanied that bout of projectile vomiting during pregame layups back in 1985? (Home court, of course.) Even though you recovered by halftime and your team won by a landslide, Tattoo You’s first track morphed into a Rolling Stones Voldemort, the “Song-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
And then there are the songs that slice through your soul — the ones that seem obsessed with following you, constant reminders of memories you’re trying hard to forget.
I’ve had to shake a song or two — the MASH theme triggering a crescendo of pre-piano lesson dread, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” transporting me back to a disastrous day at work, and two heartbreakers I feared were beyond salvaging — “Atlantic City” and “Band on the Run.”
Unfortunately, time doesn’t heal all tunes. Here are a few strategies to help you take back a song:
Are you really going to let a song catch you off guard and turn your day upside down for the rest of your life? No, you’re not. You are going to play the power out of it.
Listen to it on the beach surrounded by a group of friends. Or drive around alone with the windows down and the volume up.
Your method doesn’t matter as long as you listen to it so many times that it’s transformed into “a song” instead of “that song.” Got it?
Could taking back a song really be as simple as out with the old and in with the new? Most definitely. Remember: The only thing we can control is our thoughts, so hop in the driver’s seat and be prepared.
The key to a successful switch and ditch is having a “replacement thought” on call. Choose something — anything — you’d rather think about when you hear the song. That is the something the song is going to trigger from now on. When the old memory surfaces, don’t panic! You’re in the driver’s seat, remember? Push it aside and move your replacement thought on in.
Ever wonder if R.E.M. is trying to tell you something?
Sure, “Fall On Me” reminds you of that BBQ at your neighbor’s house four years ago, the one when you found out your best friend wasn’t really your friend after all. Maybe you pretended you were okay so she never knew how much her betrayal hurt, and then that pretending didn’t stop once you were alone. You never let yourself feel anything — angry, betrayed, confused, foolish, sad.
What if you let yourself feel those things now? “Fall on Me” might not be as heavy without all those emotion weighing it down, and you may even begin to feel lighter, too.
Anchor yourself in the here and now to prevent the past from rocking your boat. Take a deep breath. Revel in your surroundings. Wrap yourself in gratitude.
Whatever that song evoked, that was then. You are here . . . now. What song is it you want to hear?
P.S. I’ve been living in a Jason Isbell world lately, and his “Songs That She Sang in the Shower” reminded me that this blog post has been patiently waiting to be written for quite some time. Give it a listen.
On a lark, on a whim,
I said, “There’s two kinds of men in this world and you’re neither of them”
And his fist cut the smoke
I had an eighth of a second to wonder if he got the joke
In the car headed home
She asked if I had considered the prospect of living alone
With a steak held to my eye
I had to summon the confidence needed to hear her goodbye,
And another brief chapter without any answers blew by
And the songs that she sang in the shower are stuck in my head
Like ‘Bring Out Your Dead,’ ‘Breakfast In Bed’
And experience robs me of hope that she’ll make it back home
So I’m stuck on my own
I’m stuck on my own
In a room by myself
Looks like I’m here with the guy that I judge worse than anyone else
So I pace, and I pray, and I repeat the mantras that might keep me clean for the day
And the songs that she sang in the shower all ring in my ears
Like ‘Wish You Were Here,” How I wish you were here
And experience robs me of hope that you’ll ever return,
So I breathe and I burn
I breathe and I burn
And the church bells are ringing for those who are easy to please
And the frost on the ground probably envies the frost on the trees
And the songs that she sang in the shower are stuck in my mind
Like ‘Yesterday’s Wine,’ Like ‘Yesterday’s Wine’
And experience tells me that I’ll never hear them again
Without thinking of then, without thinking of then
– Jason Isbell