Unwriting the written-off (part 3 of 3)

I guess that based on the long time between posts, there’s a third unplanned thing that I should talk about in this blog post! Ha!

Nope, it’s just that I got really busy with grading, prep work (for a class which turned out as a train wreck, but I digress), and job applications.

But now, let’s return to my three-part sequence. In Part 1, I had given the example of “singing any song to a certain tune” by using U Can’t Touch This as an example, from the comedy routine.

In Part 2, I had mentioned songs from the Jewish worship services that are flexible in the melody used. And at the end of the post, I had suggested that I would be writing about unwriting off.

Thinking about לכה דודי (L’kha Dodi) makes me think about my seemingly-troublesome times when I was preparing to become a בר מצוה (bar mitzvah) in 2000. The 1999-2000 school year was a time of adjustment–to a new school, a new house, and increased responsibilities in terms of Hebrew school.

By the time that I had finished the ceremonies, I was burnt out, and had actually vowed to Mom once, “I’m not returning to the synagogue–I’m done.”

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I did become pretty much the stereotypical “three-times-a-year” Jew, and so Judaism was by and large written off from my identity during high school.

But then came my cousin Emma’s בת מצוה (bat mitzvah) and a new rabbi. And my college career thus began. Perhaps spurred by my Lutheran roommate and the rabbi, spirituality and rejoining services on a regular basis became a thing of unwriting off the written off Jewish part of my identity. It simply took the right time and the right place to make me realize what I was missing.

This writing may sound familiar, since I have mentioned some of this story before, for example, in my High Holidays retrospectives (way back in my blogging career!).

Let’s shift to popular music and un-writing off.

During my late elementary school years, I frequently listened to Top 40 radio or classic rock. The former, of course, meant repeats upon repeats upon repeats. Some of these songs I liked (e.g. All My Life by KayCi and JoJo, Coco Jumbo by Mr. President, or How Bizarre by OMC). Many others I didn’t like, such as Save Tonight by Eagle Eyed Cherry, I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys. Maybe I didn’t like the tunes, or just got burnt out by the repetition.

Then, in high school, songs like Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones, This Love by Maroon 5, or The Reason by Hoobastank repeated over and over again on the radio stations that I heard, and I got annoyed by them.

Some of those songs did find their way back into my life in a more positive view once I got to college.

The magic of A-CAPPELLA!

The first time I heard a-cappella was at my visit to Washington University in St. Louis, during my senior year in high school. Come to think of it, this will be my next “Throwback” journal post on the blog! Look for it next Thursday! In that journal, I talked a small amount about the show, and my reflection at the end included, “UGH! TOO MUCH MAROON!”

Fast forward again to Northwestern. As I got involved with Hillel groups both as a participant and a fan, ShireiNU was one of my favorite groups to watch perform. During one of their first shows, they had a mash-up of Save Tonight and Yehey (the latter song is an a-cappella rendition of the penultimate paragraph of the קדיש שלם (Kaddish Shalem).

Throughout my time at Northwestern, the ShireiNU shows had other songs from the late ’90s or early 2000s. The a-cappella style gave me a different opinion of the songs than when I heard them on the radio, because they sounded more “organic,” and somehow they made me appreciate (or even like!) the original songs again! Some of these tunes also found their way into לכה דודי, such as I Want It That Way or Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen version).

And one more example: I had mentioned Don’t Know Why in my reflection. Ten years later, I heard the song while dancing at my cousin Aaron’s wedding. I related the story to my dance partner, and we mused at how things can change, and how songs stick so strongly in memory.

After all, that’s why my blog has the occasional series “Musical Memories Shuffle!”

So that’s the end of this sequence of posts. Hope you enjoyed it, by taking a few examples of how music reminds me of giving things a second chance.  ‘Cause sometimes goodbye is a second chance…


NU at Madison: 2 days.

Ides of March: 26 days.

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