Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thunderbird Jams: Mother's Day Edition

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Moms teach you lots of things. When you’re a wee little one, they teach you about sharing and how to read. When you’re a little older they teach you about pursuing your passions and how to dance with a girl without stepping on her toes. When you’re an adult they teach you about interior decorating your bachelor pad and how maybe you should invest in wine glasses instead of old mason jars. Moms have an incredible amount of patience; when your report card comes and you tanked Math, when you get your 3rd speeding ticket in as many years, even when you call to tell them you’re forgoing that safe job with health insurance in San Francisco to move to the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert to be a novelist and playwright.

Moms are rad. And so today’s Thunderbird Jam (or jamz really) are dedicated to my Momma. These three tunes forever remind me of my mom and make me realize how damn luck I am to have her looking out for me.

The Pointer Sisters- Jump

So my Mom taught Aerobics classes when I was a little kid. It was the eighties and instead of 24 hour gym memberships and iPods, people donned their spandex, met up at the YMCA, and sweated it out to mixtapes made by their aerobics instructor. I remember my mom spending hours sifting through her cassettes and making the perfect tapes for her class. A Prince track to start it off, maybe throw Steve Perry & Kenny Loggin’s “Don’t Fight It” on their to get peoples heart racing, and then when the cardio really needs to get kicked into high gear… The Pointer Sisters. There were tons of Pointer’s songs that I loved as a little kid. Neutron Dance, I’m So Excited, I Feel For You… but "Jump" is the one that will always remind me of how meticulously my Mother crafted those tapes to motivate her aerobics crew.

Roy Orbison- You Got It

One of the single greatest gifts my Mother ever gave me was a love for Roy Orbison. His was the first famous death I remember affecting me. The empty rocking chair in the Traveling Wilbury’s video still makes me tear up. It was 1989 when his last album, Mystery Girl, came out and “You Got It” was a huge hit. It got some serious play in my house and the following year when Pretty Woman hit theaters, the record company was churning out Greatest Hits collections left and right. My Mom had In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. I’ll never forget the crazy surreal album cover. It was a bright pink Cadillac in the midst of an odd blue haze, with a girl in a purple dress wrapped around the leg of some greaser in a black leather jacket. Staring at that cassette cover and listening to Roy’s ghostly voice, everything seemed somehow lovely and haunting at once. This planted in my consciousness, at a very young age, the idea that love and dreams and the afterlife and rock ‘n’ roll were all somehow intricately related. Now, anytime I hear this song (or Roy in general) I just thank heaven that my Mom is as cool as she is, with such exquisite taste.

Lynyrd Skynyrd- Simple Man

What’s funny about this song is it that it isn’t necessarily one that my Mother cares for. Instead, Skynyrd is one of my Pop’s favorite bands. Gimme Back My Bullets and (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) were albums he loved. I remember digging “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Free Bird” but even though I heard it a lot, “Simple Man” never really stuck. That is until I was in college and felt the restlessness and wanderlust that can set in when you feel like you’ve traveled far, learned a lot, and still haven’t quite found happiness. I was broke and pissed and a few thousand miles away from home when I finally understood the sentiment in this song and realized why I had some incredible parents. See… my parents both lost their folks early on. My Mom’s father passed when she was 16, my father’s mother when he was just 13. They had to figure a lot out on their own and lived with whatever mistakes they made without the approval, forgiveness, or guidance of their beloved parents.

Me? I’m lucky. I have two healthy, intelligent, understanding parents who have always encouraged me to stick to my guns, pursue my dreams, and most of all to seek inner peace and happiness. They never steered me towards more practical or financially stable lines of work. They knew I wanted to be an artist. They never told me not to date someone even if they knew it wouldn’t work out. They knew I had to follow my heart. They saw me take hit after hit and were always there to help pick me up and dust me off and give me a pep talk to go a few more rounds. Having folks like that makes you feel like Rocky Balboa except with two Mickeys in your corner. So now, when I’m in the saloon or listening to the radio and the opening strums of “Simple Man” comes on… I always know how lucky I am to be raised right.