As Long As We Got Each Other – T.V. Theme Songs & The Messages They Leave

American society is obsessed with television.  We become addicted to shows where waiting for a new episode next week is pure torture, or binge watching a Netflix season to the point of sleep deprivation.  There are few shows that I will watch repetitively, and if you put me in front of a show from my childhood I guarantee you I can sing the theme song and probably recite various scenes from every episode of Boy Meets World, Full House, and Growing Pains.  I’m an 80s baby and a 90s kid, obsessed with my generation and never wanted to leave.

It was the family togetherness that wasn’t looked on upon as weird, but as what everyone wished they had with their real family. Not to mention that the theme songs were catchy as hell.  The Growing Pains theme song has been running through my head for the last week as I have toiled and analyzed the lyrics to exhaustion.  It’s my own fault as I had an epic seven season marathon for over two weeks where I literally watched nothing else.  After I finished the seasons I bought the T.V. movies that I am sure my younger brother will rip on me forever, but I can’t help myself.  It is the nostalgia of it all and my inner most feelings that I know these characters personally.

The siblings that will hold each other down just to hear the other beg to stop sitting on them.  The brother and sister that can never stop bickering because what else are siblings for but to get on your nerves.  What about the siblings that help you pull one over on your parents and when you get caught you blame it on each other.  This describes my sibling’s relationship perfectly.  No matter what though, I know they always have had my back when I really needed them.

If you don’t know the show here are the basics. It’s a middle-upper class family living in Long Island where the dad is a therapist, the mother a writer, and they have three kids Mike (The trouble maker), Carol (The Brain), and Ben (The Smartass).  There is a forth kid (Chrissy), but she didn’t have much of a roll till the last season so I don’t really count her.  I think this family related to my real family in every way.  Not only were the sibling pretty much identical to the way my brothers and I acted, but the fact that one would do anything for the other is an act of selflessness you don’t see in most families today.  It is a rarity that you will find a family as close as mine, but you are welcome to try.

In the theme song it says:
“As long as we got each other
We got the world spinnin’ right in our hands
Baby, you and me, we got to be, the luckiest dreamers who never quiet dreaming
As long as we keep on givin’
We can take anything that comes our way
Baby rain or shine, all the time
We got each other sharing the laughter and love”

The life lessons that each theme song in the 1980s and 1990s was about how family was always going to have your back.  The situation was never to big or two small to have a hand to hold, a laugher to share, or the ability to have people that inspired and supported the dreams you had everyday.  As you get older thoughts constantly cross your mind as you move farther from family and developing a life, a career, and a family of your own.  It doesn’t need to be separate.  Those people who were there for you in the beginning are going to be there for you in the end.  My brother was in a car accident back in August and it makes you think about how precious life can be.  How in an instant everything can change.  You need to cherish the people who are important in your life everyday.  You never know when a picture of someone will just be a memory.

So, this post is dedicated to my two brothers who are just like Mike and Ben on Growing Pains – my older brother who legit would get me in trouble when I didn’t do anything.  Let’s not mention the tennis ball that broke the face on the antique clock on the mental.  Or my younger one, who I use to want to throw food at across the table as he would hum throughout dinner.  I’m glad I wasn’t an only child because without you two I wouldn’t have these memories.  Sometimes the good times out way the annoying ones, like the memories of my younger brother Johnny and I singing Grease Lighting in the garage, or hanging out with my cool older brother Sal as we sang the song ‘I’m a Bitch’ at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down.  You guys made my childhood and my adulthood, and don’t worry because I always have access to embarrassing photos if needed.

Glenn Frey: A Tribute To The Band That Began My Music Obsession

When I was kid, my younger brother and I would be singing in the back seat of the car to whatever song was on the radio which usually consisted of Chicago, Queen, Styx, or the Eagles.  My brother and I were partial to the Eagles, more specifically the song “Heartache Tonight,” but we changed the words to “a party tonight.”  I remember my mother trying to correct us and you guessed it, we continued to ignore her and proceeded to sing the lyrics wrong.  Eagles, I sincerely apologize for our lack of consideration to your songwriting skills, but we felt we had a better version.  We were wrong.

Heartache Tonight was written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger, and J.D. Souther.  The track is included on the Eagles’s album “The Long Run” and released as a single in 1979.  It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that same year and the single sold one million copies.  In 1980, the band received a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Vocal for the song that gave us the lyrics “Everybody wants to take a little chance, Make it come out right.”  Heartache Tonight will hold a special place in my life as it was a song that helped bond my younger brother and I as two goofy kids in the car who instead of fighting for once, we actually agreed on something.

As I got older, I developed a deeper appreciation for songs like “Life In The Fast Lane” more specifically the guitar riff that made that song.  To this day, I will sing that infamous guitar riff like it is apart of the words anytime it is playing (Thank you Joe Walsh).  Finally, I became partially to the song “Get Over It.”  No it is not because it was the first new song that was released when the Eagles got back together in 1994, but because my dad is obsessed with it and loved to play it anytime we were whining about something as a kid.  When I was younger, him playing that song was more annoying then anything else, but as I got older I realized it was hilarious.  Don Henley and Glenn Frey whoever put together the line:

“Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass”

I pretty much want to recite this line to everyone I encounter in the general population.  So, Mr. Henley, know that you are not the only person who is frustrated about people blaming their circumstances and problems on everyone else instead of looking in the mirror.

The Eagles were the band that began my music obsession as I pretty much stole all the Eagles CDs (among others) my parents had and kept them in my room.  There, I proceeded to keep them in my stereo once in high school, and ultimately copied them to my hard drive and iTunes library so I could play songs like “Life In The Fast Line,” “Get Over It,” and “Hotel California” during my daily workouts.  Hearing about Glenn Frey’s passing was devastating as I felt a music superman had left this crazy world a little quieter without his guitar strumming, music writing, and passion.  The world is a little darker without you, but thank you for the memories.

Kurt Cobain – Genius, Musician, and A Lost Soul

Nirvana – a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, or sense of self.  A state of perfect happiness.  After watching the film ‘Montage of Heck’ Kurt Cobain was far from happy.  You know when you look into someone’s eyes and you can see a light dance when they are happy?  The only time you ever saw a light was when he was young, maybe three or four, and then you saw it again when he was around his daughter.  People see famous people and have this vision that their life is perfect.  That suffering doesn’t exist in that world.

Cobain’s problems started before he was born.  His parents got married young without the realization that marriage is hard work and that children are even harder work.  They hadn’t really figured themselves out as individuals let alone had the ability to know who they were as a couple.  At nine, Cobain’s parents got a divorce, which was difficult for Kurt because no one got divorce in those days.  It seemed that he felt humiliated, betrayed, and broken.  He acted out towards everyone.  His mother who kicked him out and sent him to his father.  His father who belittled and shamed him for his hyper-active behavior.  His siblings, grandparents, and step-mother.  The list continues as he was passed around from family member to family member.  When Kurt would act out, he would be passed on to the next one.  No one ever truly dealt with the emotional damage that had been created and was still being created.

He loved art – music, drawing, and writing.  Kurt fell in love with punk rock.  Punk rock was the music that understood the anger he felt, the alienation, and the loneliness.  His sister Kim said, “He was in search of something that didn’t make him feel so alone. So different.”  Watching the film of the intertwined rock shows, the interviews, the home movies of him as a teenager and into his twenties that he was searching for acceptance and to be loved.  He was threatened by ridicule and by what others thought, but he was his own worse critic.  He was a musical genius, a lyricist that always had a deeper meaning, and a mind that never took a vacation.  He never wanted the fame.  I think that the biggest thing he wanted was to help young people not feel so alone like him.  He wanted his music to be great; to be something that people could find their own interpretations.  He believed that the music spoke for itself, that the explanation was based on the individual.  In the song ‘Come As You Are’ Cobain sings,

“Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy
Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don’t be late.
Take a rest, as a friend, as an old memory”

Those lyrics are hauntingly beautiful.  Almost like he was trying to convince the world to accept themselves.  Trying to convince the world to accept him.  And trying to convince the man in the mirror to accept him.  Being from a broken family he wanted to make sure that his immediate family (Courtney Love & Frances Bean) was never broken, but again it was broken before it started.  He and Love were both addicted to heroine, never dealt with past struggles with their own parents, and now enters their child (Frances).  Cobain said in an interview that Frances became the most important thing in his life.  That he didn’t want her to be screwed up because of him.  He would leave the band if it started to affect her in anyway.  Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994.  His daughter grew up without him.  Never knowing the man that loved her more then he loved himself.  He was heartfelt musician, but what a wasted talent.  He died a broken man.  Leaving the world with songs such as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘All Apologies.’  He helped create a whole new style of music, and introduced the 90s generation to grunge.  Even though he formed Nirvana he never truly found it.

All details of Kurt Cobain’s life were found through the documentary ‘Montage of Heck’ – watch the trailer here.

His Name was John – How Music Can Remind You of Your Heroes

jafeolaHeroes are people that we look up to, who made imprints on our lives, and who have done amazing things with their own lives.  One of the biggest inspirations in my life was my grandfather.  I was a lucky child because I grew up with one of my many heroes in my house.  My grandfather was a man of few words, but when you were being a dumb ass he would sure tell you and then not talk to you for a few days until you figured it out.

His name was John A. Feola.  He lived in Cooperstown, New York during the depression where his mother died when he was eleven years old.  His brothers and sister were split into foster homes, and his younger brother (Frances), older brother (Anthony), and him were left with their abusive alcoholic father.  He and Anthony were forced to drop out of school at eighth grade to help with bills.

He was a soldier in the 25th Infantry Division stationed in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Guadocanal December 1942-January 1943 launching an attacking and defeating strong Japanese forces, participated in extended combat into other Solomon Islands, which led to the Philippines in January 1945.  The 25th Infantry Division held a record of 165 consecutive days in combat fighting.  That line seems simple.  Just another line in a history book, but for the people who lived it, they got to see the best and worst sides of man kind.  My grandfather was discharged before the war ended.  He married and created a family – two daughters, two sons, and a third son who was his nephew that he adopted (his sister’s son who she had out of wedlock – a scandal back in those days).  He had a life full of loss and hardships, but his family meant everything to him, and he was willing to sacrifice anything for them.   Whether it was working three jobs when he was married to make ends meet, to helping his father keep the rest of his siblings together.

On this day, eighteen years, ago my family lost him very suddenly in the afternoon to a heart attack.  That image will be forever ingrained in my mind as I heard a loud thud hit the ground.  Chaos ensued as ten year old me and my six year old brother grabbed our parents who did everything they could to save him till the ambulance got there.  In this world you never know what is going to happen one minute to the next.  Right before my grandfather had the heart attack he was sneaking around corners scarring me and my brother.  He was a healthy man who still drove (well), had no health problems besides slight diabetes, which he controlled by his diet, and then suddenly he was gone.

Music can be a great healing power when we are sad or happy.  I am a big fan of Dane Schmidt (Jamestown Story).  He has an acoustic sound with heartfelt lyrics from poems that make memories flood back as you are listening to his music.  With Jamestown Story you can get lost in your own thought and start crying or laughing for no reason other then a memory.  The song “Don’t Say Goodbye” has been on my mind lately and I know it sounds more like a break up song, but all music is up for interpretation, and to me this song is really made for anyone who has ever loved someone and lost them.  It can be hard to let someone go once they gone because it seems like a piece of you is missing.  I know as a child, I started acting out a lot right after I lost my grandfather.  I flipped out on my cousin after she asked why I wasn’t crying at the funeral.  I almost failed a grade because I wasn’t doing my school work and the only reason the instructor pushed me through was because of “social necessity.”

jafeola2Everyone deals with grief differently.  For me listening to music or being in a dance studio getting lost in movement are my ways of letting go of that pain.  Just like my grandfather, family to me is more important then anything in the world.  Those people that you think will always be there can be gone in a blink of an eye.  You need to cherish everyday you have with them because you don’t know when it is going to be your last.  We in society need to learn to cherish people not things, not celebrity, not status.  We need fight for those who love us and those we love.  So, I leave you with this thought: Loss is apart of life, but if we make love the stronger part of our lives family can get you through anything.  John A. Feola was the most selfless person I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  He is a hero in ever sense of the word, and I know I will never truly need to say goodbye because he is forever apart of my life.  I hope someday I can be half as selfless as this man who forever change my life.

Listen to Jamestown Story’s Love vs Life Album here where you can find “Don’t Say Goodbye.”