Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Manchester’s bangles deliver a painful sting

I know we Burmeisters are late to this technological party, but we now have Sirius XM satellite radio in our new car. This service offers dozens of stations catering to every niche interest in music, entertainment and news. Want to listen to news without commercials 24 hours a day? It’s there. Can’t get enough reggae music on traditional channels? There’s a station for that. Imagine: Reggae music … all day … all the time. I know, it sounds like torture to me too, but to each his own.

I wanted to pre-set our six buttons to my favorite stations, but had no idea where to start, so I enlisted our 17-year-old son Nathaniel’s help. What would have taken me 10 hours of reading the manual and still getting it wrong took him five minutes to pre-set all six stations. I tossed him a bone and let him choose his own station on the #3 button. He chose Alt Nation. I think “alt” is short for “alternative,” but I didn’t ask, just nodded like I was cool with that.

My favorite channel is ‘80s on 8. It plays all genres of ‘80s music (where Flock of Seagulls meets Rick Springfield meets Alan Parson’s Project). Let me just go on record and admit that I LOVE this musical train wreck of a station.

But the real test came when I was driving with Nathaniel in the car and our different musical generations were clashing. We were listening to Alt Nation and one of the songs was actually pretty good.

“Who is this?” I asked.

“Young the Giant,” he said.

“You mean ‘Young and the Giant?’” I asked.

“No,” he said patiently, “it’s Young the Giant.”

“So you’re sure it’s not ‘Young is a Giant?’ It can’t be Young the Giant because that structure is awkward, and it doesn’t make sense. Is the giant’s name 'Young?' I’m so confused."

Then I switched the station because I’m the mom and, well, who was making the payments on this car anyway?

When we hit ‘80s on 8 a song from the Bangles was on. “Oh, I love this song!” I squealed. “’Walk Like an Egyptian’ is a great song. Now this is how you write music, son.”

We sat quietly and listened to the lyrics … the terrible, ridiculous lyrics.

“Great lyrics, mom,” Nathaniel said, and I could hear him smirk in the dark of the passenger seat.

How could I defend this drivel?

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (Oh-Way-Oh)
They're walking like an Egyptian

How did I not really listen to these lyrics in 1985? It was embarrassing how bad this was. I was so relieved when that song ended and The Police came on. I mean, how can you go wrong with Sting?

“Here we go,” I said triumphantly. “That last one was a mistake, but we’re talking Sting here.”

Once again, however, we were on lyrical ride to disaster.

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take
I'll be watching you

Soooo, Sting was a stalker. This was not going well.

Thankfully, Nathaniel was gracious enough to bite his tongue, but he did take the liberty of changing the channel back to Alt Nation, and I didn’t argue.

A few days later, my husband came home from running errands with our daughter and asked, “Have you ever listened to the lyrics Melissa Manchester’s ‘Don’t Cry out Loud’ on Sirius XM?” And then he stated them aloud:

Don't cry out loud
Just keep it inside
Learn how to hide your feelings
Fly high and proud
And if you should fall
Remember you almost had it all

Really, it’s a wonder that any of us reached the ‘90s intact.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer who lives in Winchester. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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