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MusicalmusingsNow, given her extensive classical music training, that there title above confused poor Blythe here to my left.

You can just TELL from her expression.

She knows there is no musical J.

But that’s the letter I’m at in my weekly Musical A-Z blog posts.

And what I’ve decided to do this week?

In honour of my two blog musical mentors and muses: Jen Kehl (of Twisted Mixed Tape and Raised on the Radio fame) and Jackie, I thought I’d give you five songs in honour of those with “J” names.

Tenuous, I know – but just ride this out with me, okay?

As a note before we start, I’ve already blogged a few times about my favourite Jen song – Jen Doesn’t Like Me Anymore* – from Less than Jake, so we’ve already serenaded my first muse.

*here, because I’ll forget by end of post: I like Jen; I’m fairly certain her feelings to me are neutral-positive.  I just randomly bumped into people who liked ska punk in the early 1990s, bought the album, and then 20 years later I joined a blog hop hosted by someone named Jen – so this amused me.  End of discussion.

As for Jackie?  I couldn’t find a good song sung about a girl Jackie – if anyone knows one, please post it to the comments and I’ll update the post.

Until then?  Let’s launch the evening in honour of one of my favourite boy Jackie’s in song … and Diane.

John Mellencamp – Jack and Diane – 1982

Above and beyond there being so many lovely J-folk in here (John Cougar even belts out about Jackie doing his best James Dean) there’s so much I love about this song – all the hope of youth; expectations about of life; young love; and the need to remember what THAT feels like.  And to hold on to it.

For as long as you can.

Not that I’d ever want to be sixteen again.  But that joy and hope and expectation about life? That time and opportunity exponentially stretch out in front of you in such a way that you can kick back and just enjoy life now?  The idea that life, and people, can forever surprise you?

In good ways?

Yes, please.

Hold on to THAT.

Because I don’t want to be doing ANYTHING “long after the thrill of living is gone.”

Hope and dreams are what keep us going.  And that isn’t uniquely the domain of teenagers.  Just ask this next guy.  Because I never got the impression that “Mr.” Jones was underage when he dreamed of being “just a little more funky.”  Of course, I was “ma’am’ed” for the first time at 17, so who really knows?

Counting Crow – Mr. Jones – 1994

Such a very aspirational song.  “When I look at the television, I want to see me, staring right back at me.”  I LOVED this song as I ended high school – and still do.  It’s a simple belting out of what you want: Believe in me; I want to be beautiful; I want to be Bob Dylan; I want to be a lion.  Other than with Picasso? No real gray there at all.  On that note, I found the Wikipedia notes re: how the musicians felt later about the song illuminating.

Because life doesn’t always just hand you what you want, or if it does, you might realize it isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be.

And sometimes you have to fight the powers that be to get or keep what you want – or what you have – from those who would take it!

Just ask Miley here, doing my favourite cover of this Dolly Parton Song.

Miley Cyrus Jolene – 2012 cover of 1973 song

So the song?  About singing to that woman, that “have it all” woman, who also wants your guy.  Begging her not to take him.  Because, really.  She (apparently) totally could.  But she has so much already.  I love the song.  I wonder at the singer ever wanting to keep her man in the scenario described, but I love the song.  I equally love that Miley is Dolly’s god-daughter.  And I love this clip where they sing it together.

But mostly? I’d love to meet Jolene.  I know she’s a caricature of an image of a certain type of woman.  Female imagery in pop culture fascinates me – always has.  But the role that perpetrates that idea – the “other woman” – life from her eyes I suspect would be equally compelling verse.  Did she have any intention of “taking her man”?  Maybe his advances were unwelcomed and she tried to steer him back to marriage?  Did she “have a man”?  Did she accidentally fall in love with a married man?  Did she purposely fall in love with a married man? Was age a factor if she did (as so much pop culture insinuates about us poor, aging married women)?  Was the married man unhappy in life before he met sultry vixen?  Did he accidentally fall in love or had he been chronically chasing “Jolenes” while “happily” married for years?  Morality momentarily aside, all possibilities – and how and why they would play out – fascinate me.

I’ve fundamentally never understood the mentality of anyone who would go after someone who is married (beyond the obvious bucketfuls of awkward and baggage I’d also figure long-term fidelity likely wouldn’t be in the tea leaves), but I’d like to hear Jolene from Jolene’s side.  And from that man’s side.  I think the trilogy would be awesomely informative.

And it’s not like she’s the worst kind of woman out there.  There’s always Quentin Tarantino to make you feel you feel like you and your life choices rank well above the median for “well-adjusted”.  But the soundtrack to his train wrecks are beautiful.  So I give you:

Cowboy Junkies Sweet Jane – 1988 cover of 1970 song (used on soundtrack for 1994’s Natural Born Killers

Tarantino hit big at the end of my high school years and I honestly discovered so much good music through his films.  I own many of the soundtracks for that simple reason.

This song is one of many examples of songs I discovered.  It’s beautiful.  Originally recorded (differently) by the Velvet Underground, I think I went through parts of later high school wanting to be seen as Sweet Jane, whoever “she” was – it seemed a simple, uncomplicated choice.  I figured I could spot and navigate past the not so fine Mickeys of the world.  I never got to Juliette Lewis style dance on the roof of a car, and I long ago decided life was – on balance – better not being a “Sweet Jane”, but otherwise things seem to have worked out.

But for the person still questing for their happily ever after?  Who perhaps feels their soul-mate is currently obsessed with another but, really, against all odds, may come around?  I give you my final pick of the evening:

Spin DoctorsJimmy Olsen Blues – 1991

So I think this is – in some ways – the male version of Jolene.  Competing with the “Man of Steel” for your dream girl.  Granted, Jimmy ain’t married to Lois Lane, but the … perceived unequal field of competition for the affections of the object of your desire is rather similarly laid out.  Only he’s campaigning directly to Lois, rather than asking Superman to back off.  And he’s posturing, with his (supposed) pocket full of kryptonite. Showing how he’ll compete.  I wonder if – and would seem to think perhaps – this plays out more broadly – as a gender difference.  Women fight it out among themselves rather than just going and asking for what they want and letting the ultimate decision-maker decide.

I like direct.  In any life situation.  You can “yes or no” (after time required for consideration if needed) in that scenario and then move on either way.

Possibly get back to holding on to sixteen, or the dreams it entails.

Life goes on – and all that.

Until next time!

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