My digital music collection had grown to an absurd size. Years of transferring hundreds of CDs from WUTC’s library and countless other places have maxed out both my external hard drive and the internal drive on my laptop. Instead of continuing to feed the music beast, I decided to start paring down the collection. Pillaging the contents took an entire Saturday, and I found myself gleefully deleting a bunch of music I was embarrassed to have. All of my early ‘90s alternative stuff went. Everything from my “musical” phase was erased. I deleted hundreds of low-quality bootlegs—Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, etc. Why did I have every theme song from every television show from 1965 to present? And even though I was deleting music with the speed and attitude of a defeated hoarder, some of the songs forced me to take pause. These are those songs that I just couldn’t stand to delete from my life. What are yours?
Jonathan Richman, "My Little Kookenhaken"
This is a stupid song that has sentimental value. It was on the first mix I made for my now-girlfriend of three years. The song by Jonathan Richman (of The Modern Lovers and, more famously, "There’s Something About Mary") tells the story of a boy who is so in love that he mumbles gibberish—the word “kookenhaken”—to mimic the sound of his heart. I don’t know what it means, either.
White Town, "Your Woman"
This was one of the first songs I heard as a youngster that really messed with me. It’s a guy singing about how he could never be somebody’s woman. I remember saying to myself, “Of course you can’t be a woman; you have a penis, sir!” and then getting in trouble at school for singing it. The concept of a man losing his wife to another woman was foreign to me at the time. I love this song, too, because of the infectious horn riff. It’s staying in my collection.
Mariah Carey, "Sweet Fantasy"
In college, I learned a trick about singing live karaoke that I still use: The octave button is your friend. Many people shy away from songs they presume are out of their range or are difficult to sing because they absolutely are. But what happens if you slow the song down a bit? Right! You can catch up and get it within your range. I do “Sweet Fantasy” as a marching death metal song with much success. You should invite me to your hip parties.
US3, "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)"
"Back to the fact, I’m the mack and I know that the way I kick the rhymes some would call me a poet, funky, flowing, going on with the sweet sound. Caught in the groove in fantasia I’m found. Trip the tour upon the rhymes the soar to an infinite height to the realm of the hardcore. Here we go, off I take ya, dip trip flip fantasia" ... I just typed that from memory without listening to the song. That’s why it stayed. Also, I’m funky, funky.
Steve Miller Band, "Dance, Dance, Dance"
The Steve Miller Band is my go-to answer to the question, “What band do you really dislike that most people really like?” Why? Because the music is ridiculous. Name a respectable Steve Miller Band song. “The Joker”? "Lovey dubby all the time"? I don’t think so. “Fly Like an Eagle”? "Shoe the children with no shoes on their feet"? A cat could write a better song. This brings us to “Dance, Dance, Dance,” which is the only song by Steve Miller that is tolerable, in my opinion. The song remains in my collection because of this line: “I've got to say, you're my honey pumpkin lover.” That’s a good lyric, Mr. Miller.