Ah, Ms. Safka

Stopped at one of those mindless memes on Faceboook (we spell everything with three Os now) that promised to predict the course of someone’s life in the coming year, 2020. Turns out the secret is kept in the title of “the #1 song” on an individual’s 18th birthday.

OK, let’s play. First of all, this would depend on the exact MUSIC CHART employed for research purposes, with the results varying widely depending on country, resource publication, etc. For our purposes, the Billboard Hot 100 will suffice. The chart for December 25, 1971, the day before my 18th birthday, is easily accessed online.

Of the top 10 songs, five are stone classics, and I would be happy to have ANY of them form the predictive text of my future. The remaining five, however, are rather forgettable slices of misguided talent. Play along! See if you can tell which songs are which, IMHO? Your results may vary.

But, according to the aforementioned meme, the theme of my 2020 is “Brand New Key,” a big hit (obvs) for Melanie and a source of hobby pride for roller skaters everywhere. I love the idea of starting new relationships, unsure where they might lead, if anywhere at all. That’s the “let’s give it a go” spirit espoused in Melanie’s silly love song.

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates

You got a brand new key

I think that we should get together

And try them out, you see

The object of her affection, however, seems to avoid her. Their mother says they’re home “but not alone” when Melanie inquires at the door. Melanie is undeterred, dropping in some cheeky sexual innuendo, coded for any teenager just discovering their own boundaries:

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car

Don’t go too fast but I go pretty far

Aw, go on, just check out Ms. Safka’s version (thought of recording my own, but TBH, my favorite song of hers to perform is “Candles In The Rain.” Very challenging without the help of an amazing gospel choir.

Melanie has admitted the song’s sly references, making the claim that a “key and a lock have always been Freudian symbols, and pretty obvious ones at that . . . My idea about songs is that once you write them, you have very little say in their life afterward. It’s a lot like having a baby. You conceive a song, deliver it, and then give it as good a start as you can. After that, it’s on its own. People will take it any way they want to take it.”

We hear that from a lot of songwriters, and it pretty much sums up the Josephmooon aesthetic. We make the songs, and hope that whoever listens gets something out it.

That would indeed make for a great 2022.

Published by billpaige

Interested parties are first directed to my memoir, “Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars” (Eckhartz Press). While I have taken music therapy classes and read extensively about music’s effect on the brain, I am NOT professionally trained -- just a music lover who recognizes that everyone benefits from music. Giving that gift to special needs youth is highly rewarding, but again, my process is intuitive, not academic. I draw largely on personal experience. I’ve spent most of my 67 years observing a wide world of music, from working as a music critic professionally for 20 years, and holding positions in music companies in the 1970s and 1990s. Since 1990, however, I have focused on learning more about music and improving as a singer, guitarist, and performer, both solo and in ensemble settings.

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