Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Music lessons with my brother

I was 14, I think. I was sitting in my bedroom, or cleaning, or something.

Marc Anthony was singing “You Sang to Me” on the radio.

My brother walked in.

“Bailey,” he said, after approaching the stereo. “As your big brother, I have to do this.”

He turned the stereo off.

And then he exited my room.

Apparently he wasn’t much of a fan.

I’ve had several educational moments with this particular brother (who I won’t name because sometimes he gets weird about me mentioning things about him, and I’m not sure if his love of pop music would be on that list) regarding music over the years. And by “educational” I mean sometimes educational, sometimes just bonding.

There was the time he explained to me why Britney’s “Oops I did it, Again” was not wholesome – though this conversation was encompassed by our main conversation which was about how we both liked the song.

We both loved Vitamin C’s “Smile” around the same time, though he may have feigned additional interest on my behalf, for the sake of sibling bonding. I bought the single and he let me play it in the car.

But there are certain songs – Marc’s “You Sang to Me” being among them – that, generally without fail, make me think of this particular big brother of mine. Every time I hear these songs. Below is our musical, sibling anthology.

First up we have Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Brother bought me this CD in 2004, upon discovery that I didn’t yet own All the Way: A Decade of Song. He felt my not owning it was inappropriate for my life.

CD was purchased and immediately played in the car.

A melodramatic rendition was sung by us both, but the moment I remember in particular is centered around the lyric: “but you were history with the slamming of the door.”
After “door,” there is a barrumph sound to indicate a door -- yes, you guessed it -- slamming.

During our melodramatic singing of a melodramatic song, Brother took a hand from the steering wheel to do a sweeping motion with it, and used his voice to really get at the drama of the moment --

of the slamming

of the door.


In keeping with our diva segment, let’s now move on over to our favorite country belle (who I want to see in Vegas, pretty please, anyone who wants to join me), Shania.
Brother introduced me to the song I’m about to mention, because he first owned her greatest hits album before I (I purchased a copy along with a Celine magnet in Vegas earlier this year, and was so distracted by singing along with it on the way back to LA that I drove five miles in the wrong direction).

The song is “The Woman in Me.”

There’s a line that goes:

The woman in meeeeee
Needs you to beeeeeeee
the man in my arrrrrrrms
to hold tenderleeeeeeeeeeee

Now, Brother takes his own take on the “tenderlyyyyyyy” portion of the song, and by this I mean he mocks Ms. Twain’s way of uttering it.

When I first heard this song, with Brother, of course, I was thinking, “Nice song,” when suddenly I hear over Shania’s “tenderleeeeeeeeeeee”

Brother’s “ten-DUH-leeeeeeeeeeeeee”

Emphasis on the “duh.”
It is just very nearly impossible for me to hear this song and not also imagine my brother singing it. And while I think it’s a beautiful, sentimental, romantic ballad, I can’t help but laugh – at least a little bit on the inside – while trying to mimic Shania’s pitch in a sort of serious manner. It’s one of those inside jokes that just never dies.

While I love the ten-DUH-leeeeeeeeeeeee thing, I think this last song may be my favorite among all the Brother musical educational moments of history so far.

Or at least it’s one I think about a lot, because he pointed something out to me about a song that I really hadn’t thought about until he said something. And now I can’t help but think of the thing he pointed out, so I really owe that to him.

First thing’s first – we’re all familiar with the basic concept of the Backstreet Boys’ “The Call,” yes?
If not (shaking my head), watch this video and then join us again, please. We’ll wait.

So, to recap, for those of you who are missing out and decided not to watch the video (you know who you are), the aforementioned song, "The Call," involves a guy (or, five guys singing in harmony) telling his girl (five girls, listening in harmony?) that he’s going out to the club, so he ain't available to talk to his girl(s), when the dirty truth! is that he’s cheating on her and he's acting like his phone is about to die, but it is working just fine!

So, as I mentioned before, I never really realized a small detail to this song until Brother pointed it out with classy and humorous mockery.
This educational musical lesson took place while I was in high school, again in my bedroom, radio playing (because this was before the Christmas when he bought me The Hits -- Chapter One).

Brother started to pontificate about not so much the song or the concept of the song itself, but – and he got really deep here, guys, so mentally prepare yourselves for this – rather about the career of one of the BSBoys and his assigned part in the song.

It wasn’t really until I started working at a business journal in my twenties that I really started thinking about the moving parts of a business or working group of people, but I owe it to Brother for opening my eyes about the individual players in a boy band.
Thank you, Brother. Thank you for that.
So. We were listening to this song, and he started chuckling, laughing at the line in the song: “My battery is low.”

You’ll note this line at about 1:45 in the video above, in which one of our BSBoys adds a point to his cheating message to us naïve girls who were listening at home.
Homestar in the song goes on and on about how he’ll be out late tonight with “the guys” (sure) and so she (we) shouldn’t expect to hear from him.

Then another homestar, subtly – but surely – jumps in for his big SOLO MOMENT and tells us, “My battery is low,” to inform the naïve teeny boppers that his phone is supposedly going to die and so “Don’t even bother trying to call back, lady.”

Whoa, pause. I just had a vision of a BSB & Beyonce/Gaga mashup of the former’s “The Call” and the latter’s “Telephone” – whoa. That would be epic. All royalties better be sent to me, y’all, since I had the idea on this one.

Phew. Give me a sec.
Oh my goodness. Sorry, not done. This idea is burgeoning in my mind and I must get it out.

The premise for the audio/video mashup would be a girls against guys medley, where they’re singing at and over each other, like they’re in a fight. She’s all over here at the club dancing, can’t hold her drink and phone and dance all at once, brother. Meanwhile they’re over there trying to pull a fast one on her and girl don’t even care!! Cause she be dancing.
She’s k-kinda busy.

This is the best idea I’ve had all day.

OK, back. Where were we? Ah, yes. “The Call.”
So Brother started laughing at this battery part. He said, “Can you imagine? This guy just stands in the background for the whole song, then” (and here Brother took a step forward) “steps forward and sings, ‘MY BATTERY IS LOW!’ and then” (Brother steps back to original position) “his part is over.”

This is thought provoking stuff, it really is.

So much so, that 15-some years later, I’m still thinking about it as The Hits -- Chapter One blares in my Corolla as I cruise (crawl) down the 405.


  1. I read the Dailee Bailey more than I read books!

    1. :) awww, whoever you are! i have lots of book rec's if you want them!!