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Monday, July 3, 2000

I think the last time I bought a CD because of one song was when "Mambo Number Five" was just out. I bought the CD and found that the other tracks were either repetitive (well, what did I expect?) or otherwise monotonous and unexciting. Instant buyer's remorse, a not unfamiliar sensation. A person should learn from an experience like that, but several of the CDs I own were purchased for the same reason, and gather dust for the same reason. After all, nothing else on the Marcy Playground CD quite lives up to "Sex and Candy." Likewise Deep Blue Something and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

When we were motoring (as fast as we possibly could) through northern Utah last month, we were grateful for any radio station that came in clearly. So imagine our delight when we heard a song that was new to us and had us singing along the first time through. The DJ didn't identify it (a pet peeve of mine), but I wrote down some of the lyrics, with the intention of tracking it down when we got home. Then, I forgot all about it.

Until yesterday when I heard it on our local "alternative" station (Mix 104.1). I was just mindlessly pushing the "seek" button and there it was. And there I was, bopping up and down as I drove through Mom's mobile home park. Oh, what a sight that must have been. I stayed in the car after pulling into her driveway until the song was over, and to my amazement they gave the artist and title. I wrote it down again.

Today I made up an excuse to go to Best Buy while I was out on my morning errands. Copy paper — I think I decided we didn't have enough legal size paper for the new copier, and so an electronics store with a tiny office supply section is the logical place to restock. (I may have also picked up the DVD of Three Kings while I was there. It was on sale, so it would've been the logical thing to do. I'm nothing if not logical.)

Anyway, I got the CD home and put it in the new player. The song I liked was track 7. To be fair, I listened to the whole thing from the beginning. First six tracks: hated them. Nothing sounded remotely like the melodic reggae number I was looking for. No reggae, and almost no melody. I like my tunes to have melodies. Repetitive lyrics help, too; they make it easier to sing along, even if you've never heard the song.

Then on came my song, the reason I'd spent thirteen dollars this morning, and for four minutes (and two seconds), my extravagance was redeemed. Oh my, why couldn't the rest of the album be like this?

The last five tracks were, to be fair (and I'm nothing if not fair) better than the first six, to my demanding ear. Still, I think this is another CD that will be played only on rare occasions, when I've forgotten how much I don't like it. Like my Ugly Kid Joe CD, from which I play "(I Hate) Everything About You" and nothing else. Likewise Edwin McCain and "I'll Be."

The song is called "Steal My Kisses," the artist is Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, and the album title is Burn to Shine. I listened a second time and liked it a little better. Kind of a cross between Cat Stevens and Eagle-Eye Cherry (both of whom I like very much). This could be one of those CDs that I dismiss the first time I hear it and then later play a lot, like How Bizarre by OMC, or Streets of This Town by Steve Forbert. It's a pretty eclectic mix of songs, and I'm nothing if not eclectic.

It could well be that everyone in the world has heard this song before but me. It might have been number one on the "modern rock" charts, or some such. I see that the CD came out last year, so the fact that I hadn't heard it before is probably more attributable to my peculiar listening habits than anything else. After all, the artist has a bunch of albums out, including a box set. But this song hit me the way a new song that I like a lot always does.

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Latest recommendations:

Aimee, The Mombat Situation, July 3, Baby Talk

The Sole Proprietor's Journal, July 2, Odd Sort of Thinking

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And to see it fall on your simple country dress,
Like heaven for me, I must confess.