18 May 2007

Lyrical Friday: Growing Up Together

I have fallen for another she can make her own way home And even if she asked me now I'd let her go alone
I useta see her up the chapel when she went to Sunday Mass
And when she'd go to receive, I'd kneel down there
And watch her pass
The glory of her ass

I useta to love her, I useta love her once
A long, long time ago ...

D'you remember her collecting for concern on Christmas Eve
She was on a forty-eight hour fast just water and black tea
I walked right up and made an ostentatious contribution
And I winked at her to tell her I'd seduce her in the future
When she's feelin looser

--I Useta Lover , by P. Cunniffe, D. Carton, L. Moran, P. Stevens

Christmas day, sitting around
Full with food we washed it down
Your thirteenth year my only boy
So grown up and so short a time
Just a simple nylon string
To strum along and get the swing
To wish you luck beneath the stars
I wrote this song with your guitar....

Seems like only yesterday
It was Power Rangers all the way
Then Lego stuff and dinosaurs
This year for you your own guitar
I hope it makes you many friends
Brings you fun for hours on end
Takes you places you'd never be
That's what my one did for me

--Your Guitar, by L. Moran, D. Carton, J. Moran

I wasn't yet 21 when I left for Ireland. Never been on a plane before. Never been out of the country before, except to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. I was newly engaged.

In 1991, you didn't have to be in Ireland too long before hearing The Saw Doctors. They had at least two singles at the top of the Irish charts, and a best-selling album. As I recall, the U.S. music scene was still pretty deep in the cynical, depressing grunge period. Nirvana and all that. The Saw Doctors' music was fun. Often funny, irreverent, always clever, and it made you want to dance. My friends and I went to a Saw Doctors concert not far from Galway. No reserved seats...no seats at all, if I remember correctly. The venue was a big room with a little stage up front, reminiscent of a cafeteria/auditorium in a high school. I was surprised at how accessible the band was. The difference between being number one in a small country and in a large one, I suppose.

Recently, I saw the movie Music and Lyrics, in which Hugh Grant plays a has-been 80s pop star who needs Drew Barrymore's lyrics to make a comeback. It was a sweet movie, though perhaps best appreciated by those of us who remember when Wham! and a-ha were the hottest things going. One of the aspects I liked was that Grant's character was relatively happy being a has-been, performing at high school reunions and smallish theme parks. He told Barrymore that he was depressed, bitter, etc., when his star first started falling. But after some years, when "retro" became cool again, he and his fans rediscovered each other. His fans, now in their thirties and forties, were glad to see him again. And he was glad to see them, too. I can't remember if the character said it or if I thought it, but it was like the singer and his fans had grown up together and were both looking back fondly on their youth.

The Saw Doctors weren't quite as young as I was 16 years ago, but both they and I have gotten older. They are still making music. (At least, the two original frontmen are.) It's still fun. It's still good-hearted and sometimes irreverant. But they've moved from chronicling teen-age crushes to describing a teen-age son.

I still smile when I listen to "I Useta Lover," and as Katrina approaches her fifth birthday, I've been thinking how fast the years fly. And that light-hearted band I heard when I was at the cusp of adulthood had more staying power than I would have predicted in 1991. It's almost like we grew up together.