Got a slightly more coherent article today, so we actually get capital letters in the title. Whoo. Lots of music links, too, so my apologies to those of you reading on mobile.
So, I was at a wedding a while back, and this song came on during the dance:
It instantly clicked with me, with a strange sense of familiarity, but I was fairly sure I didn’t know the song. No one at my table knew the title, either.
So, in accordance with my usual habits, I jotted down the lyrics and looked them up later on the internet. “Angel of Mine,” by Eternal – this confirmed that I didn’t know the song or artist, but there was still the vague familiarity I couldn’t rule out. Now, I barely listen to western music these days, but my exploration of anime music has conditioned me well: the first thing to do is to look at the credits. I’m out of my element here, so Wikipedia was my default option. Unfortunately, nothing in the pages for the songwriters jogged my memory. Dead end.
Nice song, though, so let’s hit that Youtube button again. Having closed the tab, I automatically started again from the search.
Interestingly enough, the top result for this song’s title on Youtube is actually a cover. I did click on this in my first search, but I felt the discrepancy between the cover and the version I’d heard at the wedding, so I jumped out after one listen. For some time now, I’ve been slightly interested in examining and evaluating differences between original songs and their covers, so I alternated between the Monica and Eternal versions for a bit. Eventually, I concluded that I enjoyed the vocals and overall texture of Eternal’s original version more.
At this point, I remembered that familiarity set off this whole thing, and before I even made it to Wikipedia to look up cover credits, a long-dormant song floated up in my mind:
“It Was You,” by Ashley Ballard with So Plush. A song nearly twenty years old, which I’d last listened to maybe five years ago while refactoring my mp3 collection during a computer transfer. Originally released on a “soundtrack” to an English-dubbed children’s anime movie – a soundtrack with a grand total of 4 out of 16 vocal tracks appearing in the movie itself, plus 4 more over the credits sequence, and this song was none of those.
The soundtrack release was clearly meant to market to parents who just wanted to satisfy their kids who wanted anything with the Pokemon name attached, and in my opinion (probably not an unpopular one), it shows in the quality of the music. It’s mostly generic, mediocre-but-barely-inoffensive pop of the time. Hell, my clearest memory related to listening to this CD is reading an Amazon review of the CD that had specific criticism of the lyrics to “It Was You”.
Even so, for some reason, this song remained in my collection even after I purged my digital copies of the other tracks – as generic and mediocre as it was, there was still some hidden characteristic that wouldn’t let me leave it behind, something about the atmosphere, the rhythm. (Evidently, my tendency to focus on the best of what everyone else would consider trash was seeded early.)
Well, what do you know, looks like this song is about as old as “Angel of Mine”. To Wikipedia we go!
Eternal – Angel of Mine (1997)
>Songwriter(s): Rhett Lawrence, Travon Potts
Monica – Angel of Mine (1998)
>Songwriter(s): Rhett Lawrence, Travon Potts
Ashley Ballard with So Plush – It Was You (1999)
>Writer(s): Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Harvey Mason, Jr.
>Performed by: Ashley Ballard with So Plush
Something’s missing here, but I was pretty sure of my intuition at this point, so I wikiwalked a little more and was quickly rewarded:
>Rodney Jerkins, also known by his stage name Darkchild
Making these connections between songs through the people behind them has been a huge obsession of mine for years now, and it was pretty satisfying to do it here. Listening to so much anime music has made me pretty good at this – it’s a nice parlor trick for times like when you’re just sitting there in your friend’s car, and you can just say two thirds of the way into a song of you’ve never heard before, “Dude, this is kz.” Not impressed with me tooting my own horn? Totally understandable, but personally, after witnessing that my own mother could hear the Max Martin in both “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart” without ever researching anything of the sort, I am a believer that this practice is Good Civilization.
On a more reflective level, though, I think the real treasure from this research session was the insight I gained in mapping out the journey from song A to song B. Once I had the dates and names down, I could visualize some possible paths that explained the burst of intuition that led me from Angel of Mine to It Was You. Maybe this was Darkchild’s signature style, and that led to his selection/choice to produce the Angel of Mine cover; maybe he chose to bring this feeling to It Was You based specifically on what he learned and enjoyed while producing Angel Of Mine. Or maybe, without even knowing it, this part within the sum of all his past experience found its way into this new song effortlessly – one of countless signals, conscious or unconscious, that led this one individual to infuse this characteristic into this one song, which reached the mind of the listener and remained there after all other noise had long since dissipated, just waiting to be found again.
Another song for the index, another story.
 The groom was an older cousin of mine, and if you happen to be a younger member of a large extended family, you might be able to relate to the experience of seeing weird sub-clusterings of music nostalgia within the generation.
 Most notably spurred by my change in attitude over time regarding GReeeeN’s “Ai Uta”.
 “Hm,” thinks Bamboo, “I feel like I’ve heard this name before somewhere, back in the day.”
Tomorrow marks ten years since I started this blog. Despite the last few years of inactivity, my work here remains an integral part of my identity, and it’s crazy to think I’ve been here for so long. I prepared none of the special ideas for such an occasion that have been bouncing around in my head throughout the years – this blog post was just something I wanted to write for a while and it happened to make it out today – but I think I’m in a place right now where I’m okay with that. I’d like to think I’m more or less past worrying about clean numbers; what matters now is keeping the wheels turning. I know I’ve got people waiting for me to arrive, so the wheels are turning.
To anyone reading this now, if you feel your life has been positively affected by anything I’ve posted:
I’m glad you were here.