Monday, June 26, 2006

If You Were Scoring My Life

There's a scene in the movie The Lake House where Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves characters actually meet and exist in the same time (like that ever happens and maybe just maybe why this movie has to be filed in the "fantasy" category). They are strangers, having met at Bullock character's surprise birthday party. They are alone, underneath the stars and they hear music coming from the house so they begin slow dancing.

The song playing is Paul McCartney's "This Never Happened Before" and it's the perfect song to capture the mood of the moment. (Yet since McCartney released the song in 2005 and this meeting moment is supposed to be occurring in 2004- there seems to be a time/space problem with the song choice that only enhances the movie's message).

Usually I'm not too big a fan of movie and TV scenes where the dialogue ceases and the music swells and we get a montage backed by a song. Often this is a sign of poor writing as if the writer of the scene couldn't find a way to express the emotion necessary so the director uses music- the best emotion expressing art form that exists - to get across what written words and actors acting their hearts out can't. But this particular scene works. It's great to hear McCartney's voice struggling to hit the higher notes. This imperfection underscores the uncertainty the characters are facing- trusting a complete stranger in a random romantic moment.

The mood of the scene reminded me of one of the beginning moments with my favorite person in the world. She told me she used to have a theme song. That song was "I Can See Clearly Now." Once she told me that there was little else I needed to know about her. If you're going to pick a theme song for your life that one might as well be it. It seemed like a far better choice than what was the theme song of my life at that time, Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

There are other movie and TV musical moments that have over the years stuck inside me like a bad burrito. Remember the scene from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the lesbian couple Tara and Willow break up and other characters in the show have personal crisis' going on leaving much of the cast in a sad place? What did Joss Whedon choose to well up the emotion of the places his characters found themselves in? Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You."

Now I'm not the biggest Michelle Branch fan in the world. Maybe I should be but I just haven't had the time. But her performance at the Bronze in this Buffy episode makes me cry every time I see it.

"It feels like I'm starting all over again/The last three years were just pretend/And I said goodbye to you/Goodbye to everything that I knew/You were the one I loved/The one thing I tried to hold on to..."

If someone out there was kind enough to put together a soundtrack for my life this song would surely have to be on it. It's time to move on.

Then there's the scene from the movie I've seen more times than any other- The Karate Kid. Daniel finds himself a stranger in a strange place and he's blaming his mom because she didn't exactly give him a choice on whether he wanted to uproot himself from New Jersey to move out west and start all over again. As he struggles to make friends there's a montage where Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" plays in the background. Is there a better song that's ever been sung? A better song that could say all that needs to be said about being lost and alone?

Listening now "Cruel Summer" takes me all the way back to 1984. I'm soaking my hands in pickle juice to make them tougher for all the karate chops that are needed. Of course I couldn't soak my head in the same juice and it would be a long time before I could pickle my heart leaving me to ask a question I'm still asking. Where do I go from here?

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