We all have them: things we are a bit red-faced to admit in public. I’m going to step right out into the spotlight here, and admit that I was a closet “Ally McBeal” fan. I saw the first episode when it aired, and loved it. But somehow, I just didn’t seem to have the time to watch it until it was in its last couple of seasons – luckily, the early seasons were in syndication by then, and often shown in marathons (making it easy for me to catch up in the days before Hulu or Netflix). In a particularly memorable episode, Ally visits a therapist, played by Tracey Ullman, who tells Ally that she needs a personal theme song. Ally’s first suggestion for her song is “Searching My Soul”, the actual theme song for the series (Ullman’s character rejects it as not upbeat enough).
I think this concept resonated with me because I’ve always had my own, albeit mostly secret, theme songs. In my childhood, certain songs just stuck with me and made me feel ready to face the world. Later, I started purposely selecting them. The first theme song I remember consciously choosing was after a break-up in the 80’s: “Goodbye To You” by Scandal. It was empowering.
Over the years, I’ve had a number of theme songs – some embarrassing to admit to now, others still on my list of great songs. U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was my theme in 1988 and again in 2005 (it’s just that good)! In 2006, I stumbled upon a CD by singer-songwriter Ari Hest and his song, “A Fond Farewell” (lyrics here) became my new anthem.
In 2011 my mania for the perfect theme song took a very bizarre and Ally McBeal-ish turn when I picked the song, “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida as my theme song for the year. If you don’t know it, please check it out:
If you know this song, or just watched the video, you should now attempt to picture me on stage at the Sip-N-Stir – or the dive bar of your choice – singing it, karaoke style, during my 50th birthday celebration. Takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Yes, I know you’ve lost your breath laughing and I’m ok with that.
You may be wondering what a song like this has to do with me? Why in the world would a 50-year-old middle class, midwestern woman who has never been clubbing pick such a song? First, it has the classic elements of a theme song: it makes you want to dance, gets your blood flowing. Second, it’s got a catchy refrain – so what if you can’t keep up with the rapped lyrics? You can definitely sing along with the chorus. Finally, and most importantly, it is audacious. Flo Rida oozes self-confidence…and so do I when I sing along with him. This is an incredibly important point for me – I need some audacity in my life.
On New Year’s Eve, I took a long afternoon bike ride. The temps were fine, but the wind was killer, causing me to work harder than I anticipated to pedal up the long hill to Ely. But on the ride back down, toward home, I experienced an endorphin rush. Luckily, I had my iPod on, and just when my speed topped 23 mph, I heard the familiar opening strains of “Club”. In what can only be described as a transcendent moment, I flew downhill, singing my theme song aloud to the wooded hills, the Cedar River, and a few stray exercisers sharing the nature trail with me. It was a fitting end to 2011, and a last hurrah for Flo Rida as my theme-song muse.
When it is time for a new theme song, you just know.
So, I am on the lookout. There are a few candidates rattling around in my head right now but I can’t say any of them feel exactly right for 2012. My criteria:
- It needs to be fresh; no tired old songs will do!
- It can’t be a song that I think would be perfect for someone else’s theme song (“Moves Like Jagger” and everything by LMFAO are already taken, therefore);
- It can’t be focused on others; theme songs are inherently self-referenced. I love Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go”, but it won’t do for this purpose.
- Most importantly, it must be audacious.
I think I’ll know it when I hear it, but I’m willing to consider suggestions. So if you think you’ve got the perfect song for me, don’t hesitate to share! What’s more, if you have a 2012 theme song of your own, I for one would like to hear about it!