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“Days Like These”

Posted by purplemary54 on March 10, 2012

How you feel about a song, how you hear it, is often dictated by what’s going on the first time you hear it.  You might have a song forever tainted by tragedy or elevated to favorite status because it was playing when something magnificent happened to you.  I hate CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” because I associate it with the destruction of the Challenger.  (I heard it on the radio that morning, and I knew something bad was going to happen to the shuttle; don’t ask me how.)  “It Must be Love” will always be one of my favorites by Rickie Lee Jones because I was listening to it when I realized I was in love (the relationship didn’t last, but I still love the song).  Others are a little more obscure.

Like 3 am obscure (no, I don’t mean the Matchbox Twenty song, although it’s not bad for what it is).  I mean the songs you hear for the first time when you’re awake at 3 am for no good reason.  I sleep with the radio on, and I have a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night, so I’ve heard a lot of songs like this.  Songs like this are something private, a moment between you and the universe–or at least the DJ.  It’s one of the reasons I hate the corporatization of radio so much.  All the stations sound the same anymore.  They all play the same set of songs, both classic and Top Forty, and some have even done away with DJs (making the generic playlist that much easier; it’s so much easier to force the same crap onto people if no one is there to object).  There are still some halfway decent stations out there.  SoCal currently has The Sound 100.3, which the programmers have deliberately patterned after the late, great KMET.  And if you’re willing to shell out for it, satellite radio has reinvented radio magic.  Dad has a trial subscription in the new car; I heard Elvis Costello the other day and I almost hugged the radio.

“Days Like These” is a 3 am song.  Now, I’m not especially a fan of Asia; I’ve got a couple other songs by them on the computer (I bet you can guess which ones), but I’ve never really given them much thought.  This particular song was recorded especially for a greatest hits package they put out in 1990.  And to be totally fair, this is a decidedly mediocre song, even for Asia.  It’s all generic and vague platitudes about overcoming obstacles and being strong, with gratuitous mentions of Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The message is a nice one, something we should all maybe aspire to a little more often: “Days like these, I feel like I can change the world.”  Really, though, it’s never gonna make anyone’s best ever list.

But if you hear it in the wee hours of the morning, with a soft rain falling outside, and the last lines of the last verse sing out loud and clear, even though the volume is so low you’re not sure if you can hear it.  And for just a moment everything opens up and whatever trouble you were carrying in your heart is lifted away.  It’s a cliche, but it makes sense right then, in the dark, with a soft rain falling outside.

“What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.  And today I am strong enough, and anyway I love the rain.”

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