Thursday, March 17, 2011

For the 11,680th Time, Marry Me?

Mixed Messages
I know I haven't officially announced it here yet, but something wonderful is in the offing. This past February 14th, my daughter, Amy, became engaged to a young man that Michelle and I both approve of and like very much. No official wedding date has been set as of yet, but if the stars align properly, it’ll be sometime late this fall.

Naturally, for about a month now, the wheels have been spinning in earnest amongst my two favorite females. It’s an extremely exciting time for Michelle and me. We, like most parents, I would assume, will be experiencing a rite of parental passage unlike anything else in seeing our daughter make that all-important next step in her life; in many ways becoming the complete person she’s always dreamed of being.

But believe it or not, that’s really not what this post is about.

There’s another blessed event to be celebrated, today, as a matter of fact. It’s an annual event that is at the same time exhilarating and frustrating for yours truly: Michelle and my wedding Anniversary.

Exhilarating, because it still gives me the same goosebumps and lump in my throat that it did on St. Paddy’s Day, 32 years ago today, when I stood before a brightly sunlit window, gazing into the morning sky and pronouncing, vocally, “I’m getting married today, and my life will never be the same.” And 11,680 days later, indeed it has not been.

However, it’s frustrating as well, as this year, like many of the years before, the most we can afford to do to celebrate our anniversary is go out to dinner and exchange heartfelt sentiments via the poignant-as-we-can-find anniversary cards from the local card store.

But this year (knock on wood) the reason is a good one; I started a new job after more than a year of unemployment, after being laid off by The Company I had worked for eleven years previous. I’m still in my 90-day probationary period, so I don’t have any available vacay days until the first of next month.

So we’ll perhaps postpone any plans of a real celebration for later on in the year, when I do have plans and will take Michelle on a genuine vacation. We just can’t do it now.

However, to be honest, it’s not like we never do anything special on our anniversary. We’ve managed to celebrate the ‘big ones’ like the 10th, 20th, and 30th in style. The most recent of course being the weekend we were able to enjoy at the Opryland Hotel two years ago. Now THAT was fun, and something I really want to do again. I guess once you get the taste for something like that, it makes subsequent occasions when you don't do it seem that much less satisfying. But no doubt I’m being harder on myself than I probably need to be.

Michelle is no diva. She’s not high-maintenance. She is as unassuming and undemanding as a man could want in a life partner. Each and every day she makes me realize what an incredibly lucky guy I am to be the man she chose to love for the rest of her life.

And thus is revealed the twain of my daughter’s impending nuptials and the anniversary that marks 59% of Michelle’s and my current lifespan, spent together.

Wait. Did I say twain? I meant Train.

Early Adoption
I could (and likely will, someday) devote an entire post to my longstanding admiration for a band from San Francisco that was more or less discovered in Nashville.

Some of my fondest musical experiences in this town occurred in the late 90s, during a series of music festivals designed to highlight local and regional, unsigned talent: the late, great NEA Extravaganza. It was a week-long celebration of nightly, multiple-venue showcases that was wildly popular in Music City before petering out near the decade’s end. Music industry officials mixed with fans in packed clubs and concert halls throughout downtown Nashville, hoping to see ‘the next big thing’. For music hounds like moi, it was beyond great.

At NEA’s 1998 festival, Train headlined the Aware Records Show at 328 Performance Hall. Within a few months of that appearance, the band was signed, and hits like Meet Virginia were all over the radio, nationally.

Without hijacking the story any further at this point, let me just say, I came, I saw, and I was smitten, particularly when soon thereafter, Train also performed a free, Who’s on 3rd show, at 3rd & Lindsley Bar and Grill. That evening nearly everyone in attendance got the chance to meet the band, and came away really feeling as though they’d gotten in on the ground floor of something special.

From the subsequent release of their 1998 self-titled debut album to their current, 2010 smash release, Save Me San Francisco, Train has subsequently established itself as one of the great American pop bands of their era.

Lead singer, Patrick Monahan’s soulful, yet wildly resourceful voice is unlike any other I’ve ever heard, and particularly on their current effort, runs a gamut I previously didn't believe possible.

However, it was the lyrics to one of his new new songs, one bearing his trademark improvisational style, that really wowed me.

Guilty Pleasure
I’ll have to admit it, my wife has won me over on a few TeeVee shows I once swore to myself I’d never watch. One is ABC’s, The Bachelor. I started watching it with her three years ago while, in the midst of moving into our new house, we had to spend six months in an apartment, with but one decent TeeVee to watch.

This season’s finale was last Monday night, and as part of the final video montage of bliss, depicting glimpses of the reality series’ final contestants’ love connection, a tender ballad played in the background.

It was soft enough (and my hearing is bad enough) that I couldn't quite make out who the artist was. However, what was clear was the predominant phrase in the song’s chorus: Marry Me.

It was totally appropriate as The Bachelor season’s swan song, as Brad, the young man looking for love, made no bones about the fact that he was looking for permanent love; he was looking for a wife.

When we heard the song, Michelle and I immediately looked at each other and said, nearly in unison, “What a cool song!” We didn’t have to state the obvious; we were thinking bout Amy’s wedding.

Michelle immediately commissioned me to find out who sang that song and where we could get it. I agreed and began searching online. I was both delighted and embarrassed that top Google search result for “Marry Me” was a YouTube link to the video below:

I was obviously delighted because it was so easy to find. There were several links to Train’s official website in reference to the song. A little further down the page was yet another link to a The Bachelor-related blog that confirmed the song’s appearance in season finale episode, suggesting that “...we’ll always associate this song with The Bachelor.”

Weeel, maybe, maybe not.

By now you might be wondering, if I claim to be such a dedicated Train fan, why I didn’t immediately identify the artist when my wife asked; surely I already owned Save Me San Francisco, right? How come I didn’t know the song?

Well, that’s the embarrassing part. Fact is, I knew that Train had come out with a new album last fall. However, buying music wasn’t quite at the top of my disposable income budget during the previous year and a half, when I was out of work for 14 months.

Sorry, My bad.

However the song is definitely on my radar now; in fact I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for the last three days.

After watching the awesome video and investigating the lyrics, I have decided that whether Amy wants Marry Me to be played at her wedding doesn’t matter; I now associate this song with my marriage instead.

You see it’s not about one special day. It’s not even about a single marriage proposal. It’s about the daily commitment; the daily renewal of the ever-elastic bond of marriage; it’s about is the way I feel toward my wife.

Thanks to Train for putting into words what was for me, a previously indescribable feeling; for one of the greatest Anniversary gifts I could ever receive, or give.

And today, for the 11,680th time, I give it to you, Michelle.

Happy 32nd Anniversary, Sweetheart.

Michelle, Marry Me?
Forever can never be long enough for me
To feel like I've had long enough with you

Forget the world now we won't let them see
But there's one thing left to do

Now that the weight has lifted
Love has surely shifted my way

Marry Me
Today and every day

Marry Me
If I ever get the nerve to say
Hello in this cafe

Say you will...Say you will

Together can never be close enough for me
To feel like I am close enough to you

You wear white and I'll wear out the words I love
And you're beautiful

Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally shown her my way

Marry me
Today and every day

Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe

Say you will...Say you will

Promise me
You'll always be
Happy by my side

I promise to
Sing to you
When all the music dies

And marry me
Today and everyday

Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe

Say you will...Say you will

Marry me

Words & Music © 2010 Partick Monahan and Train