Songs We Overheard While Shopping

[“Missing You” by John Waite, performed by Rod Stewart]

C: Actually, I don’t know if you were with me when I heard this.

W: Was it sucktastic?

C: It was rank.


[in the cafe, “Doo Doo Doo Doo” (sic)  comes on]

W: This is a bad song. Every line in the verse has the same 2 or three note melody. The bridge has about two notes and the writing is terrible: “their logic ties me up and rapes me?” What? And the chorus—not even written. No, Sting, go home and write something else, we won’t record this.

C: It was a hit.

W: It’s not even a B-side. It’s a Z-side.


[“Take the Money and Run,” by The Eagles? No, the Steve Miller Band]

W: If somebody held a gun to my head and told me to like a song by the Eagles, I’d choose this.

C: [looks away, embarrassed]

W: What? Isn’t this the Eagles? Is it Joe Walsh?

C: Steve Miller Band.

W: Is this the song where they rhyme “Texas” with “facts is?"

C: Yes.

W: Oh. I guess I was confusing it with “Life in the Fast Lane.” Whew. I hope nobody does hold a gun to my head and force me to choose an Eagles song. I might have to go with “Hotel California.” I’d be flustered, you know. And I don’t know very many of their songs.


[“White Room,” by Cream]

W: I don’t know why people seem to like this song more than “Tales of Brave Ulysses” or “Strange Brew.” It’s really dramatic to no end. That enormous opening chord sequence is followed by dull rock. I don’t even know what the song is about. It’s hard not to compare their boring white room at the station unfavorably to the Beatles’ plasticine porters and looking-glass ties.


[“You May be Right,” by Billy Joel]

W: I thought this song was bad-ass when I was twelve. Check it: he rode his motorcycle in the rain. That’s really dangerous!


[“OO La La,” by Faces, as redone by Rod Stewart]

W: Is this song by Rod Stewart or by someone who took lessons from him in how to suck?

C: This song is originally by Faces actually. Ron Wood thought he could do it solo. Rod Stewart used to be cool.

W: I hate the word “OO.” “Yeah” is okay.


[“Crying” by Don McLean]

C: You know who this song is by?

W: Black Board and the Fingernails?

C: Don McLean.

W: Ew. That makes him a negative two hit wonder.

I'm sitting in an empty mall typing right before 5 p.m. on a Sunday, and, weirdly, the music echoing through the sterile emptiness is “Street Fighting Man.” It's kind of a baby boomer experience I'm having. This ostensibly tough (but actually kind of soggy) rock song about brawling, whose writers are now spoiled geriatrics with young supermodel girlfriends they can't possibly satisfy, is reduced to an echoing muzak in a cavernous, empty mall, while I drink raspberry-flavored coffee and watch Jagger/Richards’ contemporaries engage in mallwalking laps in orthopedic shoes.  Aha, now they're playing “Magical Mystery Tour.” Roll up to walk around an empty mall. And now “Badge:” “Better pick yourself up off the ground/before they bring the curtain down.” A good sentiment for seniors trying to get a little mild cardiovascular workout.

Do Roger Daltrey and Roger Waters know that their macho rock music echoes through near-empty indoor malls, heard only by the generation who once made their kids turn it down?

There is no dignity whatsoever in being a rock star.

[And the next day, headlines announced the first baby boomer to receive social security. Undoubtedly another boomer put the story in the wire...]


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