Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just Like Me - Phil Oakey Gets Snooked

On Friday night, I bought Sarah McLachlan's "Bloom" remix CD.

On Saturday morning, I found myself on the road to Henderson, Nevada, which gave me an opportunity to listen to the CD in detail. Repeatedly. You see, when I buy a CD, I play the heck out of it for a week or so. My wife was in the van, but she hid in the back with her headphones on while I played the CD - or rather five songs from the CD - over and over again.

I could talk about all five of the songs that I like from this CD, but I'll confine myself to the one song "Just Like Me."

Technically, this isn't even a Sarah McLachlan song, but a song by "DMC featuring Sarah McLachlan." DMC, of course, is Darryl McDaniels, and the song itself hearkens to an earlier time:

Just Like Me [is] a hybrid of rap/hip-hop and folk music which includes the chorus from Harry Chapin's folk single Cat's In The Cradle (the latter originally appeared as the title track on Chapin's 1974 album Verities & Balderdash)....

[In 1997] DMC heard a song on the radio by Sarah McLachlan called Angel (which originally appeared on her 1997 album Surfacing). DMC instantly became obsessed by the song. It not only touched him, but it made him re-evaluate the direction of his life and career, and gave him the will to live. He was so taken with the song that he religiously played the track every single day for a year....

After DMC discovered that his mother was not his real birthmother, and that he was adopted, and McLachlan's Angel saved from committing suicide - all of these things became the inspiration for the song Just Like Me (a hip-hop re-make of Chapin's Cat's In The Cradle). When it came time to choose a collaborator to sing the Harry Chapin chorus, the only person DMC wanted was McLachlan; his real-life guardian angel.

But as I listened to the song over and over in the Mojave Desert, I began thinking of a couple of other songs. As I ruminated on how Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle" morphed from a song of father-song alientation to a song of loving adoption, I thought of another Chapin song which (in my mind) made its own journey.

While I loved "Cat's In The Cradle" as a teenager, another Chapin favorite was "WOLD," Chapin's song about a live radio deejay in an increasingly mechanized world. Years later, when I heard the Human League song "WXJL Tonight," I was convinced that the song bore more than a passing resemblance to Chapin's earlier work. However, I seem to be the only person to have linked the two songs. If you get a chance, compare the two songs and let me know what you think. Or check the lyrics (WOLD, WXJL).

But I thought of another song while listening to "Just Like Me." As I noted previously, McLachlan is not the lead singer on this song; DMC raps most of the song, and McLachlan interjects with some singing here and there. Much like this song:

Yes, my Veronica Maggio obsession rears its rather pretty head again. The video, of course, is for the remix of "Inga Problem" in which Maggio sang the choruses with a sultry stare at the camera. (The stare was in Swedish.) So I ended up driving through the desert, seeing a vision - a vision of Sarah McLachlan swaying and dancing while singing "And the cat's in the cradle...."

On Tuesday I finally saw the real video for the original mix of the song. And in this video, McLachlan doesn't quite play up the sultry look. In fact, she looks...angelic.

P.S. The short version of this post.
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