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Wednesday Jukebox: What Does Your Life Sound Like?

April 13, 2011

From the instantly recognizable “wocka wocka” accompanying John Shaft’s footsteps, to the guitar riff informing the audience that Sam was climbing the ladder into Clarissa Darling’s bedroom, pop culture has demonstrated in addition to bouncy hair and a catch phrase everyone needs a theme song/soundtrack. Since I’m not Marvin Hamlisch or Quincy Jones I have had to play Quentin T., creating a pastiche of musical cues, which have become the “sound” of my life. After the jump I’ll list a few and of course I’m hoping you’ll list your own. You know you have musical cue that plays whenever you successful put together a piece of furniture, get your hair just so or saunter into a gas station at 3am.

“Street Life” – Randy Crawford and The Cruisaders If I had to pick one song that was my pop culture theme it would be this jazzy theme to the Burt Reynolds gritty cop tour-de-force Sharky’s Machine (oops, almost slipped and put an “N” in there!). This song reminds of childhood, and oddly enough the late 90s when I moved to North Carolina. La Mommie had this smooth jazz/gas-station-in-hell type of compilation featuring a fantastic version of this song and a full frontal synth assault version of the St. Elsewhere theme, which always required me to dance it out.

“Never Too Much” – Luther Vandross – Always plays in my head whenever I do anything family related, especially if it involves my mom. So much so, that I made this her ringtone so I always get a bit of Luther happy in addition to getting to talk to her!

“25k Pyramid Theme” – This musical cue is sort of my default setting. I’m generally an upbeat person, not necessarily bubbly or especially perky, but what polite folks would term, “dynamic”. I used to tell people if you loop this track and play it while reading any piece I write on the internet you’d be able to approximate the tone and spirit of 99% of my writing. Seriously! Try it. May I suggest “Negrophobia, Hoochie Mama – The Other White Meat and Razor Wire Pubic Hair: Books as Stranger Repellent”.

“Imperial March” – Star Wars – I’m obsessed with Darth Vader both as a project manager and as an evil overlord. On the former, he’s barely competent, rarely able to complete the task, which was his charge, but as an overlord he’s pretty on point. And because he’s an overlord, he doesn’t really have time to explain this to everyone he encounters, which makes it especially helpful that iconic ominous music plays whenever he enters a room. He was the first character I observed having a distinctive theme song and I wanted one too! More importantly, he really got me thinking about the way my life sounded. More than one person has told me they often hear this whenever I’m being a crispy piece of bacon, particularly when giving ultimatums and directions. It doesn’t help that I used to wear a lot of black shiny clothes and call my home/workspace “The Death Star”.

“Sanford & Son/Streetbeater” – Quincy Jonesanything home or house related elicits this cue. Do not know why, but regardless of the state of my place it’s pretty apropos.

“Glad” – Traffic – Definitely thinking and writing music. Ever since the track was used to introduce Penn Juliette’s character in Miami Vice: The Prodigal Son I’ve been hooked on it. I like how the song goes off into all these tangents before finding returning to the point – the point being that funky piano! Sort of like my thought process and writing style.

“Going the Distance” – Bill Conti – general “overcoming obstacles”/prepping to do anything I don’t feel like doing like getting the car serviced, going to the grocery store or cleaning the toilet. Strumming my pain with their fingers, indeed. This song reminds me that soon the task will be completed and I’ll be able to move on to other things.

“The Untouchables” – Ennio MorriconeThe Untouchables theme by famed composer Ennio Morricone is the musical cue for all my bad decisions. I swear I hear those furious and sketchy strings every time I consider wearing white during the week I expect my period to begin.

“Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” – Will Smith – I don’t give a fuck. Call me cheesy. Call me corny, but this is my happy dance musical cue. Always associate it with roller disco Fridays in Big Bear Cali and the midpoint of my workout.

“Cellphone’s Dead” – Beck – In the “movie” of my life this is the song played over a montage of scenes detailing the otherness experienced while being Black in VT.

“Gonna Fly Now” – Bill Conti – What can I say? It’s a pretty inspiring piece of music. And you know you’ve really taken out that trash when you’ve set it to “Gonna Fly Now”!

Obviously there are many volumes of my life soundtrack as I’m sure is the case with yours. So now that you’ve gotten the idea, fess up. What music (if any) do you hear while sorting mail, finding a rockstar parking space at Rite-Aid or opening an especially tricky jar of mustard?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 8:39 pm

    when I bust through a set of double-doors onto the sidewalk of a sunny day, I hear the opening timpani of this:

    and when I’m doing a quick 1-minute cleanup of a room, or some other similar brief domestic task, I’m usually humming this!

  2. April 13, 2011 8:41 pm

    I know I posted this for Chaka’s birthday a couple weeks back, but this is what I hear when I’m going up crowded subway stairs, imagining the credits rolling under my feet!

  3. April 14, 2011 8:28 am

    If I’m feeling sinister, like in a place where I have keeping my mouth shut while inwardly annoyed by something, I find myself humming this to soothe me.

  4. IrishUp permalink
    April 14, 2011 9:10 am

    Whenever I’m doing something chore-like & repetitive, I have the Warner Bros cartoon factory music. I had to look up what the heck it’s called, and find IMMENSE satisfaction in the name “Powerhouse”!


    Click on the top link from the Raymond Scott website:

  5. IrishUp permalink
    April 14, 2011 9:12 am

    This is the themesong that plays for my sis and I during most, if not all, interactions with the extended fambly:

  6. Salom permalink
    April 14, 2011 1:16 pm

    This is just on a constant loop throughout my life, whether appropriate or inappropriate:

  7. April 15, 2011 4:01 am

    ooh, keep ’em coming, y’all. Ha, my “mischievous” musical cue:

  8. April 15, 2011 12:28 pm

    Sometimes, after a really long, tough, work week, I buy a beer in a can and sulk my way back to the bus stop. This is what is running through my head.

  9. April 15, 2011 12:33 pm

    For all my hifalutin eclectic tastes, I find my life’s soundtrack is heavy with Disney and 60s cartoon themes. For example, my “get busy” song is sung by Donny Osmond:

  10. Q.V. permalink
    April 16, 2011 5:08 pm


    It took me a while to actually acknowledge the various songs in my soundtrack, but a recurring one is “Wanted: Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. Mostly when I am riding my bike, i.e., my steel horse. This is especially true since seeing a Bon Jovi concert and also since biking more.

  11. April 16, 2011 7:53 pm

    @Q.V. – ooh, that’s a good one! The intro lends itself to full bike riding prep before climbing astride and getting one’s bidness done!

    Ha. My college days movie montage will feature this song;. Whenever I needed to shake down La Mommie for a few dollars I totally sang the chorus to make myself feel better.

  12. Q.V. permalink
    April 16, 2011 11:14 pm

    That’s a good one. I know a lot of people writing papers, so they use the Imperial March a lot in the library whereas I reserved it for one particular boss, and I used to sing it openly as she crossed the room. I hope she thought it was funny. I hope I think it’s funny when my kids do it to me. I hope they know the Imperial March!

    A 10-year-old at the child care centre saw Bon Jovi the night before I did, he wore the concert shirt all the next week and damn if those kids weren’t in for a treat: one or both of us was singing the artists’ oeuvre at all times. How many daycares have a soundtrack?

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