Day 159: A song that reminds you of your best friend. (Volume II)

“Mama” – Genesis

MamaIn reality, this probably could have been any Genesis song.

Or Tony Banks song.

Or Phil Collins song.

Or Peter Gabriel song.

Or even anything by Mike Rutherford or Mike + The Mechanics.

But I chose “Mama” because there is some irony about it. You see, I have Justin (a.k.a. Woody) to thank (or blame) for my love of Genesis. And (almost) all things Genesis. (The jury is still out on Steve Hackett.) Sure, before his influence, I knew the popular stuff, but without Justin, I’d likely have no idea about amazing songs like “Dance On A Volcano,” “Dancing With The Moonlit Knight” or “Supper’s Ready.” (Unfortunately, I’d still know about “Hold On My Heart” but some things can’t be helped.)

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Thanks to his influence and tutelage, we can claim a fairly equal level of fanaticism.

We’re so fanatical, that, as I mentioned in my post on “And Your Bird Can Sing,” when we drove cross-country for three weeks back in 1996, we listened to nothing but Genesis and Genesis-related music as we drove. And the scary part is that we had so much material that we didn’t listen to anything twice until we hit New Mexico (which was about day 15 or 16).  That could be viewed as a tribute to the output of the band and its members, but it’s more likely a tribute to our shared mental illness. (It follows that if you share a brain, you must also share the mental infirmities, as well.)

And for me, it all started when he handed over a tape with the Abacab and Genesis albums recorded onto them. (Complete with hand-drawn cover art!) I played the heck out of that tape. If I had to pick a soundtrack to that first Australian exchange, that tape would have to be it. But, as mentioned here, on that tape Genesis didn’t include “Mama.”

At my request.

A request that, although hono(u)red, was met with a look of sheer derision. For, at that time (and possibly to this day), “Mama” was Justin’s favo(u)rite Genesis song. But I didn’t like it at all.

I’m not sure what exactly it was about the song that put me off. Maybe it was the maniacal laugh. Maybe I thought it went on too long. Maybe the video creeped me out. I don’t know.

So what made me come around?

In my dreams, I have vague visions of 1984-like torture sessions where Justin is standing over me, repeating “You love ‘Mama'” over and over, followed by “the laugh,” but despite what my therapist says about repressed memories, I don’t think that ever really occurred.

To be honest, I’m not even sure how it happened. When I returned from Australia, I purchased the aforementioned two albums on CD, and started listening the heck out of them. Perhaps I just got tired of skipping the first track, or maybe one day I just decided to give “Mama” another shot. (Much like “All Mixed Up” from The Cars.) But at some point, like a thunderbolt I realized “This song is awesome!”

And that’s how I feel to this day. I love the laugh. I now prefer the “Long Version” from the CD single over the album version. I love the long, slow build-up, the tension growing like water filling behind a dam, and when the real drums finally kick in, it’s like the dam breaks, releasing that menacing onslaught of emotion. (The video is still creepy, but that’s the point.)

So anyway, when I hear “Mama” nowadays I’ll often stop and think to myself, “How could I have not liked this song?” Insanity is the only possible plea. And so, the irony that this song I originally hated is now among my favorites, and the fact that I made Justin leave it off that tape is what ties “Mama” to Justin in my head. And by extension, his. (Happy Birthday, Dewde!)

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved “Mama.”

(With apologies to Orwell.)