Reverb12 Day Twenty Two: Theme Song

Back to this evening.

What has been your theme song this year?  Have there been several?  Make us a mix tape and tell us the meaning behind it.

These questions are quite common among introspective writing prompts. The old “what’s the theme song for your year?” or even “your life” prompt. It seems useful enough on the surface, and despite it being somewhat cliche, I enjoy the question. I enjoy pondering my playlist and wonder what songs could qualify as theme songs for my year.

That isn’t to say I came up with an easy answer. Like so many such things, I can’t take the easiest path to an answer.

For many, this would be merely an intellectual exercise. Think of a song with lyrics that match an important aspect of one’s life for that year, and make it your theme. For example, a young woman who during 2012 took on a grueling new part-time job to pay some bills could simply stamp “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summers at the top of her playlist. Someone who fell in love and finally confessed it could go with REO Speedwagon’s  “Can’t Fight This Feeling”.

Then there are those times a song is assigned as a “theme” to something based on nothing more than tangential linguistic connection. At football games, home crowds will often hear  Toto’s “Hold the Line” when the home team is facing 3rd down on defense. Taken as a whole, that song has zip to do with holding a line in a defensive fashion. It’s actually a pop-love song. But the phrase, “hold the line” fits with the game situation, as does the upbeat nature of the tune.

That sort of thing is cute, but not enough for me.

For me, a theme song can’t just be appropriate on an intellectual or even lyrical level. A “theme” song should invoke during its brief moments the entire range of feelings and expectations, emotions and vision of its subject. No theme can cover everything about a show, a campaign, or a person. But to me it should nonetheless encapsulate, all be it in compressed form, the lion’s share of what something or someone is about. This can be done by way of only lyrics, or by way of only music, but the best themes posses both.

Stick with sports stadiums, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” is a prime example. It is overplayed these days and as a result has lost its punch to a great degree. Still, if a team has in fact won a championship of some kind, at virtually any level of competition, there’s a better than decent chance that this song will be played, either in public or in the locker room. That’s because the words that describe a long, grueling hard fought but well deserved victory are set to music that also invoke a feeling of slow rising to an awesome crescendo. Cliche, but effective.

All of that being established, can I say that there was a theme song, or even a set of theme songs for my life in 2012? It may not surprise you to learn that under this level of scrutiny no song is a perfect match. However, upon reflection I’d say that the song which comes closest is probably “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. Not an exact lyrical match the song nonetheless establishes a mood that fits perfectly with the story being told. And that mood in many ways suits much of my situation in many of my endeavors for 2012. (Though, I should point out, not all of them.)




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