Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My rambling Muse story

When I'm driving my car, I usually listen to my iPod or books on CD. I do, however, occasionally listen to the radio. This usually happens because the book on CD du jour ends, and I'm so close to my destination that I just leave the radio on until I get there. This was the case a couple of months ago, when I left work and headed to Wal-Mart to buy some odds and ends. My radio was tuned to the hard rock station, where some nondescript Nickelback knock-off was whining about something. That song ended right as I was pulling into Wal-Hell, and without any sort of preamble or DJ set-up, the next song came up. I don't know exactly at what point I started paying close attention to and enjoying the music, but I think it was when I heard a clapping accompaniment to the song's rhythm. Whatever the case, I sat in the car and listened to the entire song, growing to really, really like it. Of course, the next song, another Nickelback-inspired piece of musical garbage, came up without any sort of announcement regarding song titles, so I was left wondering what the song I had enjoyed so much was, let alone who sang it.

As I walked from my car to Wal-Hell, I tried to mentally list the song's salient points so I could look it up when I got home. A catchy beat, the aforementioned clapping, a brooding, keyboard-driven minor-key progression, nifty instrumentation, and a soaring vocal line. The song was a wonderful blend of hard rock and new wave pop, kind of reminiscent of Marilyn Manson but devoid of Manson's needy "Hey! Look at me! I'm weird! I'm different! LOOK AT ME!" rhetoric. I also committed to memory a couple of refrains, no small feat for me, since I couldn't care one whit about lyrics. Alas, by the time I got home, I could only remember the following: I had really liked a song, it reminded me of but was somehow better than Marilyn Manson, featured keyboards and clapping, and... that's about it. I tried the radio station's website to see whether there was a track list available, and since there wasn't, wrote them an admittedly incoherent e-mail inquiring about the song. No luck.

Given my obsessive-compulsive nature, there's no way in Hades that I was going to let this go. The next day, I asked all of my classes about the song. None of my students had any idea what I was talking about, although a few politely expressed reservations about my mental health. I made it a point to listen to the radio in the hopes of hearing the mystery song again, but had to give that up -- there's only so much Nickelback and Red Hot Chili Peppers garbage a man can put up with. I grudgingly resigned myself to the fact that by failing to quickly write down the snippet of lyrics I'd picked up from the song, I had missed any realistic hopes of figuring out what the song was.

And then, a few weeks ago, serendipity struck. I had recently joined a gym, and was in the locker room changing into my ratty work-out clothes when, lo and behold, The Song started playing in the gym's background music radio thingamajiggy. I finished changing quickly, and went looking for either someone who could tell me what the song was, or for something to write with. As luck would have it, I noticed that one of the ubiquitous TV sets in the cardio area was playing a music video that matched the audio. I parked myself in front of the TV, ignoring the weird stares from the gym's other patrons, and watched, in the hopes that the artist and song would be credited at the end of the video -- I do much better at remembering stuff when I see it written out. Huzzah! The much sought-after info scrolled through as the song finished up. Almost three months after first hearing and, not to put too fine a point on it, obsessing over The Song, I finally knew what the hell it was.

This story seems pointless now that I run into The Song constantly, since it's featured in commercials for some idiotic Tom Cruise / Cameron Diaz movie, but whatever. Without further ado, here's "Uprising," by Muse: