"Konnichiwa. Welcome to our show. Konnichiwa. Let's have a good time tonight. It's show time. Enjoy yourself tonight. We came from Osaka, Japan. Konnichiwa..."
I was a very fortunate child. For all my public education career I was the lucky one whose bus stop was right in front of my house. This meant I didn't have to walk anywhere near or far to stand in line, or in essence worry much about missing my bus. I would wait inside while my mom would watch out the back window to see the bus coming. Once she spotted the bus and thus notified me of such, I had a half a minute to meander outdoors and catch my bus. Not being much of a early morning socializer, this system allowed me a few necessarily precious moments of privacy. It was perhaps another fine indication of how spoiled a child I was, but mom didn't seem to mind this extra morning task.
All this came to mind as I listened to Shonen Knife's new CD, Happy Hour, which immediately brought a remindful smile to my heart. My favorite song is Catch the Bus which I have played over and over the past few days. It's a song that I think might summarize the Shonen Knife philosophy- although I must admit I'm not familiar enough with their music to really truly know.
"Life is tough, can drive you out of your mind. Don't give up, things are gonna be just fine.. I may not be the smartest, I may not be the strongest. I'm happy just to be me, yeh yeh yeh..."
Perhaps it was the ease and convenience of my school bus riding experience that has made me fearful of riding a public transportation bus. The whole process- figuring out the bus schedule, waiting with others for the bus to arrive, fumbling with my change, finding a seat- makes my heart race with anticipation. Add to that my obsessive viewing of my sweetheart's most exciting movie, Speed, where we get to see a flying bus (don't get me started about my fear of flying) and you get a full fledged bus riding phobia. I would rather walk ungodly distances than take a bus.
"Don't be afraid of missing the bus. You will catch your bus. Find your dreams, all you gotta do is try. Take a chance, why don't you come out and play. Life's too short, so don't waste another day. Have some fun, come on, let's have a good time. Catch your bus..."
It's a simple message until you begin to think about the universality of the metaphor. Sometimes the simplest messages are the hardest to remember. So much of our time is spent worrying about those annoying routine daily events. In the end if the worst thing you do during a day is to miss your bus and end up running late, how bad can things possibly be in the bigger picture? More importantly if you allow yourself to worry about getting started how will you ever possibly get to your final destination?
It is rare to find a group that consistently sings such uplifting songs that aren't cloying in any way. I enjoyed the entire disc but particularly the exuberant cover of Daydream Believer and the song that reminds me of my trip to Japan just one year ago, Sushi Bar Song. "Ooo, colorful art of the food. It's a beautiful Japanese meal. I wanna go to a sushi bar. I wanna go with you. Ikura, Battero, Salmon, Tamago, Salad maki. Which one shall I order first? I just can't choose..."
Happy Hour aptly proves that every hour of the day can be a happy one not just the ones the bars designate for special prices on food and drinks. From the opening sounds of the alarm clock to the detailed account of counting sheep to sleep to the closing ode to a carp, it is a wondrous ride. It is such a spirited CD full of fun music that rocks, pops, and crackles. The music is so positive and upbeat that it is contagious. It dares you to try and not smile- a task that even I couldn't resist
When a group like Shonen Knife comes along, one supposedly identified by its unique membership (three young Japanese women), one wonders whether the novelty is the sole appeal. But to say that about this group is to dismiss its ultimate appeal. Their music is full of the heart and soul of which all good rock music is based and creates a world all of its own while giving insight into this one. It is all so fun and full of energy and by its very simplicity, deceptively deep. There is definitely an edge, a flipside to the sunny silliness and in that way it does mirror the challenges that each day brings. "There are many honeyed words. There is so much misinformation..." It's nice to be reminded that life might be about events like trying to make sure you catch a bus on time, but there just might be something more out there than appears to the naked eye.