BLOG – “Tupelo Honey”
What’s your favorite song? I realize that we’re just getting to know each other on this blog, and I know it’s a deep question, but I believe it’s so important that you be able to answer it. Shuffling through the playlist in the history of your mind is not easy. So many great moments: concerts, dances, road trips – songs that defined a summer; songs that remind you of the best of times and songs that have gotten you through the toughest. Somewhere, though, in that cluttered closet of musical memories is “your” song – the one that you’d want playing on your business card as you handed it to someone.
At some point, I ask everyone who comes into my life this question, and I never forget the answers because it says so much about what makes them tick. Oftentimes, people will offer up a Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis or Rolling Stones song. I nod my head because I’ve gone there, too. One time, this guy at work looked me dead in the eye and said, “Go West – ‘King of Wishful Thinking.’” I laughed but he was not joking. I apologized and respected him for having an honest answer – although I still pray for him. Sometimes I get the, “Whew, that’s a tough one. I have too many favorites.” I stick around hoping for a short list and a long discussion about music. But if they’re still scratching their heads after a minute or so, I quietly walk away. Look, judgment is bullshit in a sack. It’s one brown bag you’ll never see me carrying around. My only advice is to let your passions shine through your smile. Don’t let music go in one ear and out the other. If it truly matters to you, take the time to figure out why a lyric gives you butterflies or a rift brings you peace. In my opinion, the most attractive human trait is an understanding of the rhythm that shakes your soul.
The journey towards finding a favorite song can take many twists and turns. My ride was certainly a bumpy one. In high school, I made mix tapes non-stop for my girlfriend. Really sappy stuff like Journey’s “Open Arms” and Chris de Burgh’s “Lady in Red” – essentially the soundtrack to puppy love. But even back then, music was my everything. Our relationship was bookended by Cheap Trick’s “The Flame” and Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry.” That’s the way young love works. Life moves on, and then a decade later you bump into each other again. Knowing me and knowing her, the conversation shifted to music. She was into The Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” and Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” I was feeding off her energy, and then she went there. “What’s your favorite song?” she asked. My slate went totally blank. All those years of maturation evaporated like a drop of rain in a blazing fire. I stuttered for a few seconds and then blurted out Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes.”
If they made a trophy for sucking, I would have carried home the biggest one on that day. I had a reason for picking Shakira, not because I’m a pig, but because I think it’s beautiful that a woman could write and sing about a man’s body and owning physical love like that. But come on! My favorite song of all-time??? Shakira wasn’t a bad answer, it just wasn’t the right one. So I went home to get drunk and figure myself out. I listened to CD after CD focusing on the words and melodies that mixed with my chemistry. And then the true answer to the question lit my bulb big time… a song that took me everywhere I’d ever been and everywhere I’d ever wanted to go at the same time, a song that is seven minutes in length, but one I knew would never have to end inside of me: Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey.”
Guitar and saxophone dance on air with each other, as Van’s effortless voice gives a soothing sermon about the blessing of true love. It’s a song about a woman for which his world spins. Morrison allows her to power his heart, and knows that no material possession can equal what they share. He is asbolutely sure of its sustainability. She’s not just a gift from heaven – she’s an angel in the first degree. She’s not just sweet – she’s the sweetest honey found on this earth. And because pollination flavors her essence – it’s clear that together Morrison and his muse make love in a way that truly connects their souls.
I wore out the repeat button on my stereo that night, and later discovered that my “favorite song” even comes complete with a hidden verse by a smooth singer who knows precisely how to marry English with the language of music to tell an unforgettable story. Lucky for me, I was able to dance to “Tupelo Honey” with my angel in the first degree on my wedding night in 2005. We still sit on the couch and talk music five years later. And I even have a top five favorite song list that I can recite on command at any occasion. 1) Van Morrison – “Tupelo Honey.” 2) Fleetwood Mac – “Bleed to Love Her.” 3) Peter Gabriel – “Blood of Eden.” 4) Griffin House – “Waterfall.” 5) Bob Schneider – “Blue Mountain.” When it comes to music, I probably know myself too well now, and when I dance, my hips don’t ever lie. So, “Thank you, Shakira. I owe you.”
And again I ask, “What’s your favorite song?”