Recycling The Hits

Television commercials need background music, so the easiest path is to find an old song and license it – it also helps target the commercial to a particular audience. (If I hear 70s music, it’s probably pointed at me. 60s music? Burned-out baby burners. I’m still burning, so not me. Really loud music? Old folks. Porn music? ED sufferers.)

The problem for me is that I always react to the song and not to the ad. Remember the brouhaha when Michael Jackson let Nike (I think) use “Revolution”? It’s the same thing. I think it was Nike. I’m pretty sure it was Nike. I know what the song was.

I had the same issue with “Bad Moon Rising” which was in somebody’s ad recently. All I could think was “CCR? Really?” I have no idea who the sponsor was. They have good taste in music, but “Bad Moon Rising” is not exactly cheerful – the music may be, but the lyrics aren’t. John Fogerty said it was about the coming apocalypse. That should sell sneakers.

I wonder about how successful this methodology really is. I suppose if you’re a person who hears the music and flashes momentarily to your (hopefully happy) teenage years, and you don’t think about the lyrics too much, or the fact that some of the players are no longer with us, then it may work, and get you to actually watch the commercial.

However, in my house, at least, the music in commercials just annoys my wife, because I will immediately start by identifying the music, then discussing the origins of the song, rehashing any trivia I know about the song, explaining why the lyrics make no sense for the given commercial, given the product in question, and not paying attention to any of the brand messaging. Worse, sometimes my song lectures (which apparently are not as interesting to all as to me) will make me fast-forward past the resumption of the show. So, music in commercials can be hazardous to my health.

At long last, the point I was going to make – as in, the song that finally made me write this down.

The other night, we were watching something on the DVR, so I was about to spin past the commercials, when the opening guitars from ELO’s “Do Ya” started playing. I love that song. The lyrics are a bit sketchy in places, but the guitars are great.

I mean:

I’ve seen old men crying at their own grave sides
And I’ve seen pigs all sitting watching
Picture slides

Methinks Jeff Lynne may have listened to “I Am the Walrus” a few too many times over the years.

So, the commercial in question was probably pointed at me and my generation. However, the end result was that I paused the DVR, went and played the song on my iPad while the Spousal Unit went to get a refill in the kitchen, and I then I skipped over the commercial. Plus, I missed the next section of the show we were watching, trying to figure out why pigs were watching picture slides. I’m almost forty years older now than the first time I heard this song, and I still don’t know what the hell Jeff Lynne is talking about – but the guitars are still great.

I’ve had “Do Ya” stuck in my head for three days. Three days. Three freakin’ days. I have no idea what the commercial was selling.

Thank you, Jeff Lynne. I can’t get it out of my head. Yes, I see the irony. (See? Music trivia. I can’t help myself.)

Christmas Anonymous

I really don’t like the holidays. Actually, I dread the holidays. I spend the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s in a deep depression. I’m constantly on the edge of tears. I don’t know why. (I have my suspicions, but publishing them would probably offend a lot of people.) So, I thought what is really needed is an organization to help those of us who dread the holidays. We need Christmas Anonymous.

Now, Christmas Anonymous would be built on the basic principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the foundation for many successful recovery programs. Even people who have never had a drink have probably heard of the Twelve Steps. (In fact, somebody may have already done this work, in which case, I apologize. Doing it has been rather cathartic for me.)

I’ve only been to one AA meeting in my life (on a date – which can tell you how well the relationship worked), and it was an amazing experience. It was a religious experience, as well – only people who share the same dark secret can relate to your true issues and from that relation can come salvation.

So, I’ve taken the original Twelve-Step program (quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous – thank you, Bill W.), and translated it for those of us who can’t seem to cope with the holidays. You’re out there. You’re hurting. You’re not alone.

I read the Twelve Steps just before I went to the AA meeting. Until then, I had no idea what the steps were (although since then I’ve received apologies from alcoholic friends over the years, so I recognized that was one of them.) Some people think AA’s Twelve Steps are very close to a religion – God is mentioned everywhere throughout them. While this may offend some non-alcoholics who think “it’s only a drinking problem”, in the case of Christmas Anonymous, I believe it is absolutely a core part of the solution. (As the sarcastic would say: What? God in Christmas? Surely not.)

Here are the Twelve Steps, for members of Christmas Anonymous.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over Christmas. No matter how hard we wished or bitched, it would still arrive every year on December 25th. Ads begin just after the Fourth of July.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In this case, perhaps trying to restore the true meaning of Christmas as a religious holiday rather than a reason to spend ourselves into debt will help us through the season.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Wouldn’t Christmas be an excellent time to rededicate yourself to your beliefs? You don’t have to be Christian, but if you’re pummeled by Christmas music and commercials anyway, take a moment to connect with your God. 
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Why do we hate Christmas? Is it religious? Financial? Fear? Relationships?
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our hatred of Christmas. Tell your significant other, friend or family member why you’re so cranky during the holidays. Find someone who will actually listen. If nothing else, blog about it. 
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. This should always be true whether you hate Christmas or love drugs.  
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Perhaps this would be a good private prayer during Christmas services. If you avoid services, take a moment on Christmas to ask your God for this. 
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Who avoids you during the holidays? They’re on this list.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In most cases, this is probably a sincere apology to friends and family for being such an asshole during the holidays.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. You’re not going to get through every Christmas unscathed. Remember this. Keep trying.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. If you can find God, you can celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. It was one at one time. 
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others in pain during the holidays, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Find others who hate Christmas, and give them this message. Think what else you hate as much as the holidays, and apply the steps. 

Merry Christmas!