A while back I asked for music recommendations, wanting some happy, uplifting music to listen to in the mornings and on road trips. Holy crap, my sweet friend Andrea came through in a big way!
She shared at least fifty hours of music with me, all stuff she thought I’d enjoy, and she was right. Thank you! I received the maxed-out-with-music flash drive right before our 8 hour road trip to Nanaimo and back for car maintenance. I grabbed a bunch of files, pretty much at random, dumped them into itunes, synched my ipod and off we went, music on shuffle.
Now usually our road trips consist of a lot of podcasts and audio books, because generally, I can only listen to music for so long. Even the Beatles and Lady Gaga. This is probably why I’ve extended my musical knowledge gap well into my adult hood. I didn’t listen to music for entertainment as a kid, I was always trying to escape sound. I spent my free time in the bush with my dog. I can tell you all about bird and frog songs, but at 33 when I started this blog, I couldn’t tell you much at all about pop music.
It’s hard for other folks to understand or believe that I had no idea who John Lennon was until I started talking to him as a medium, because Sweetie had mentioned she used to talk to him in her teens, and it freaked her out so much (being in conflict with all she was taught in her Catholic schools and in conflict with the culture at large) she burned the diaries. But not the drawings, which resurfaced many years later, when she was visiting her family.
Discovering the Beatles brought me closer to my Mom, which I’m grateful for as well. My mother was a HUGE Beatles fan, but she too doesn’t play a lot of music for entertainment. She was more likely to put on the satellite soft rock or new age radio station, which is unobtrusive and certainly not moving. It didn’t spark any conversation about music. The Beatles did. Of course. She had a huge crush on Paul.
I recently had to re-purchase a Beatles album on itunes because I’d misplaced our favourite road trip CD during the move. I did this in a bit of a frustrated rush, bemoaning itunes search, wondering if I would ever find *that specific album* in the ocean of Beatles collections on itunes. Finally I found it, but itunes wanted me to re-enter my credit card number – which was *all the way downstairs* for god’s sake, and I was tucked into bed. Whine, moan, fetch the wallet –
Suddenly John pops in, This is the most begrudging purchase of a Beatles album in human history. Just pirate it, the record producers don’t need any more money.
This isn’t the first time he’s suggested this, either. He’s *such* a hippy. Still. I prefer to have legitimate copies of music I know I like. I’m just reluctant to buy music before I know I’ll like it, which is why I was so thrilled with the thoughtful collection assembled by my friend.
A couple of years ago, as I flailed my way through music history, I somehow stumbled upon Biggie – the wise, take no shit and talk no bullshit grand-daddy of hip hop / rap. This weekend, as we drove through the mountains with our ipod on shuffle, hearing other 90s hip hop albums for the first time, I felt the car dip a bit to the right, as though a heavy weight had just settled in the back seat. I could feel the car handling differently, as though the back end was sinking down a bit.
It was Biggie. Of course it was Biggie.
Now, I always feel like I need to address my inner “people are gonna think you’re full of shit” critic. I don’t care if people really believe these conversations happen or not. Yes, as a rational human being, I doubt these conversations myself. I am, myself, a skeptic. But I get these little confirmations, things that signal the truth of these encounters to me.
For John it was when we’d spent the afternoon facilitating a conversation between John and Sweetie, me having no idea who the guy was, and that evening Sweetie streamed a documentary about his life on YouTube, so I could have some context for what we’d been discussing.
The first time John’s voice came up in the show, I exclaimed, “Oh my god! That’s just how he sounds!!!”
Stupid, right? But that was my confirmation. That was what I needed. I’d never heard a Liverpool accent before, and never heard his voice – not that I could recall, anyway. The only thing I can think of now was I probably saw him in Forest Gump, but I really couldn’t get into that movie so my attention was wandering.
So there we were, car heavy with the giant ghost man in the back seat, listening to hip hop and me saying stupidly nerdy things like, “Oh hey, this reminds me of the music on Chris Rock’s show!” OF COURSE IT DOES. Come on, Kate. In these moments, Biggie didn’t exactly say anything, but he gave off this vibe like he’d just given me a long blink and a slooooow, controlled exhale. Not impatience and not exasperation, but a bit of both with a layer of ironic teasing. Biggie’s statements are always complex and nuances. There’s what he says and there’s what he emanates. Completely straight-faced, all subtext. That type of telepathic communication is really challenging for me to describe. It’s the *feeling* of “Oh girl / You poor fool / Seriously? / It’s gonna be okay” All in a two-second, inaudible energy sigh.
The first thing he said was, “Put Heavy D on.” (subtext message, you’ve got to listen to this in order, to understand how this music has evolved.)
I *love* Heavy D. Oh my god. Love. The music Andrea selected made me smile, then giggle, then laugh with delight. Girls the girls they love me! He’s the overweight lover Heavy D!
At this point we were a couple of hours into the road trip and I enthusiastically declared Heavy D to be my favourite so far.
Biggie: Yeah, well. I’ll be sure to tell him that.
Again, the subtext message. I am about to kill the joke by trying to explain it. *30-something white lesbians are so far from who Heavy D was speaking to when he wrote these songs.* Biggie’s statement was just dripping with bemused irony, and he was still just playing it straight!
He cracked me up.
Then I realized what he just said.
Me: Is Heavy D dead?
Sweetie: I don’t know.
Biggie: nods, clutches his chest and gives me the tightness, meaning heart, and circulatory issues and trouble breathing.
I don’t get the medical terms, I just get the symptoms. I would’ve guessed heart attack, but I’ve gotten the same cues for people who have died of COPD or complications of a stroke.
Last night Sweetie looked it up, and Heavy D is sadly deceased, and died of a pulmonary embolism, and had heart disease. Not that it’s a big leap for a guy with a song called “Overweight Lovers”.
So there it is, my personal confirmation. Close enough. Wouldn’t mean much to someone random reading this post, but that was enough validation for me to feel confident that yep, that was Biggie, and he really was supervising our first foray into hip hop history.
For those who have asked, my playlists include: Heavy D’s Heavy Hitz, Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Big Boi, Brother Ali, Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, Rihanna – and a whole bunch of new-to-me jazz artists including Otis Redding, Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty. I’m just now listening to Ruthie Foster and she’s awesome (really wonderful, positive, happy music) and I have a *lot* more to listen to. I somehow managed to cue up all the boys first.
That’s it for now. Biggie really didn’t say much, except to suggest who to play next. I think he and Heavy D must have been friends. (I found the above photo after writing this post, I’ve linked it to the source.)
Oh I forgot! Biggie did comment how much better our new car is, than the last one he was in – the 20 year old, rusted out toyota tercel. The one he said “A homeless dude could get shot in this car, and he would still drag his ass out of here rather than die in this beat up bullshit excuse for a car!”
He’d still rather see us in a big black luxury SUV. Something with leather seats and a decent sound system. Cars are *very* important, for him.