Lyrics and Life
By Caitlin Ward
Hip hop always a good way to begin a shared history
The Magic Number
(What does it all mean?)
Difficult preaching is Posdnuos’ pleasure
Everybody wants to be a deejay
This here piece of the pie
Focus is formed by flaunts to the soul
Now you may try to subtract it
Writer(s): Paul E. Huston, Vincent Lamont Mason, Kelvin Mercer, David Jolicoeur, Bob Lrod Dorough
So, it may have occurred to some of you out there that music is kind of important to me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s pretty important to my family in general. You might have noticed a little bit.
Songs, artists, and albums have been the soundscape for whole chunks of our lives. Early Beatles is my sister and me at four and six years old, respectively. Paul Simon’s Graceland is just about every summer of my life. Donovan is my sister and me as preteens, biking around town. Sweatshop Union and Ivana Santilli are me moving out for the first time with my sister when I was 19 and she 21.
This is not to say that we’re a hive mind. We have separate taste in music, as well. But there’s a shared history, and sometimes one or the other of us is startled that she doesn’t know a particular song. This happened to me recently, when I got wildly excited about Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s You’re All I Need To Get By. My sister had never heard the song. This was wrong. It had to be remedied immediately. I called her at home and sang it to her. She was in the middle of doing something else. I don’t think it was her favourite thing to happen that day. She knows the song now though, so, should it come on again at some point, we will not have the debacle repeated.
I’ve been thinking of this particularly in recent weeks because my sister’s fellow has finally flown across the ocean to live in Canada for the year. It’s not the first time I’ve met him, of course, but it’s the first time we’ve spent any length of time in the same vicinity. It’s become clear, in those weeks, how much of an idiosyncratic shared history my sister and I have. Seemingly non-sequitur phrases like, “we need a futile gesture,” or “let’s go back and get ‘em, eh?” or “that’s sense, Withnail,” or “natural man likes to boogie,” will send the other off in fits of laughter, and this fellow will look from one to the other of us, confused, amused and possibly alarmed. I don’t think it’s unique to us — I think it’s a function of having siblings. A long, shared history leads to inside jokes that turn in on themselves and mutual loves for things that make little sense to others. My sister’s fellow, though, is an only child, so it’s been a brand new experience for him.
I tried to ameliorate this last year when I told him we were bros. Being English, though, he didn’t really get the significance, and thought it was funny. So I told him we couldn’t be bros. I would find another bro who would not mock my offer of bro-hood. My sister was a bit upset about us not being bros, but I’m not sure he cares very much.
It’s not really the end of the world that we’re not bros. The real trouble, as I see it, is that I don’t have much of a shared history with this fellow. My sister met him in England, and much of their relationship has taken place there. He’s been here to visit once before, and I’ve been there to visit a few times, but beyond that, we’ve spent very little time together. It hasn’t been awkward, but it has felt a bit odd.
Or, at least, it did until this past weekend. The toilet in my apartment broke, and so we all piled into my slightly decrepit car to take him to Canadian Tire for the first time. After buying new parts, we bestowed upon him his first 20 cents-worth of Canadian Tire money, saying that he was a real Canadian, now.
But getting back into my slightly decrepit car, this fellow picked up the stack of CDs I leave on the passenger seat. When he looked at them, he said, “ah, De La Soul.”
Well, actually, it came out more like, “ah. D’luh sul.” He’s Northern, you understand.
But it turned out, unbeknownst even to my sister, this fellow is a fan of the band. So we put on their first album, Three Feet High and Rising, and sang The Magic Number for most of the way home. We traded stories about the history of hip hop, and I told him he would have to start listening to a Tribe Called Quest because everyone needs to love Q-Tip as much as I do.
So we’re not bros. And we don’t have much of a shared history. But we’re getting there.
Ward is a freelance writer and aspiring documentary filmmaker based in Saskatoon. You can find her short bursts of insight and frustration at http://www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings