Juliana Hatfield :: My Top 10 Favorite Songs
I first came across Juliana Hatfield through MTV, most likely from one of those late night, long distance conversations that this boy I once loved and I used to have, while watching MTV, “together” over the miles and phone lines. We would discuss the songs we liked, loved, hated, were sick of, and many of those songs and artists became part of our “love arsenal” that kept us going when we could not be physically with each other.
We both agreed Juliana’s music was in the “love” category, and when I bought two of her albums soon after this introduction, I played them almost non-stop for weeks and weeks. Looking back, the lyrics and song subject matter, were eerily relevant of things I would go through myself, and with this boy, in the future of us together. I got her music, got it something fierce, and as the years went by I found myself connecting more and more.
I got the chance to see Juliana play live once, around 1994, in a small club. It was miserably hot and crowded, and I remember sweat just pouring off of her, like a rainstorm, while she played guitar and sang passionately, through the heat and the close confines of a too full space.
It was in among this crowd that I met a different boy who had big blue eyes and a soft voice that had just the hint of an accent that I could not place. We connected over the music, and later over many cups of coffee. He was an actor on the verge who wanted to be a musician more than anything. We shared a few good moments after that first meeting, a few dates, and a few kisses, but we lost touch when he went to go film a movie and stopped just being “on the verge“.
I listened to Juliana’s music near non-stop (again) when I was pregnant with my second daughter. Living in the Midwest for the first time, so far from places and people that I felt close to, I clung to music for company, companionship and clarity. The songs reminded me of who I had once been, like pages from chapters of my story so far, tales that I needed then to help me steady myself, and remember myself.
Juliana’s music was a solace to me when death came a’calling unexpectedly, taking away the boy who I long ago discovered her music with through those phone lines, across the miles. We had shared a life together, the good and the bad of it, and though there was many songs and albums I could not bear to listen to, Juliana’s were the ones that I could play, that were part of our music, and still breathe through. There is something in her songs that always keeps me going, surviving and trying, no matter what life delivers to my door.
Following are 10 of Juliana Hatfield’s songs that mean the most to me – my 10 favorites:
“Tell me something I really wanna know.
Take me somewhere I really wanna go.
Introduce me to someone really cool,
not another crazy fool.”
The crowd pushed closer and closer to the stage, we were pushing forward with them, knocking into each other and holding on to each other so as not to crash to the ground. It was not exactly what I would call a “meet cute”, but it was definitely memorable. We would laugh after the show about how we were “physical” before exchanging names and numbers.
“Make it, make your way home,
better than the last.
break the alone,
take a second chance.”
The song was played almost as often as the show was, for me. Never before then had there been a show that hit so hard, or touched me so deeply. At the show that I saw Juliana play at she sang this song, and I could not hold back the tears.
“I say it’s me or drugs,
you choose drugs.”
The battle was brutal, cruel, and I suppose futile, but I fought it for years. I would scream, cry, beg, plead and sometimes just smile and pretend it was all okay, pretending, as well, that you would choose me. It hurt more than I have words to say that you never did choose me.
“Josie and the Pussycats.
Long tails and and ears for hats.
Guitars and sharps and flats.
Neat, sweet, a groovy song,
come along. “
Mixed tapes and letters mailed back and forth, it was the ingredients of a great friendship. There was love there, too, though never truly acted on, not in all the ways it could have. We felt connection between us, and in the way we shared the world, and at times I felt that rush of childhood innocence that was always a rare thing for me.
“I don’t care for boys or girls,
I’d rather hang around with the birds.”
The wind blew hard against the apartment windows, the night outside dark and unseasonably cold. I tried to sort through our things, tried to identify what was mine and what was his. All I could think of was the words in the note he’d left, how they cut through me like a sharp blade, and all I wanted was to leave everything and just be alone for awhile.
“And, I’m sorry that I must go so soon.
Please forgive me for finding something real,
The car’s engine was still on, had been on for going on ten minutes now, as I sat parked outside the house he was staying at. It had been a long time, too long maybe, but I knew he was back and I knew I had to see him. But for a moment, or a few moments, or ten minutes, maybe longer, I was frozen there, in my car, with the engine still running, waiting for me.
“I could fill my life with people who want to be with me,
do like when they say there’s other fish in the sea.
There’s a world out there,
and a million things to do,
but what do I care if it doesn’t include you,
When the bus drove away I closed my eyes. I tried to smile, tried to convince myself it would not matter, that I would just forget in a weeks. It was nothing, really, a mistake, a goodbye, and now he was gone.
“He’s in a bunch of movies,
really stupid movies.
It’s not entirely his fault,
he can’t control it all.”
I knew he was going to really make it, but in those moments together I didn’t think too much about it. He was just a boy and I was just a girl, and we liked each other a lot for a little bit of time. But I knew it, even then, that he was going to really be something, but for a flash of a moment he made me smile.
“Danger is great joy.
Dark is bright as fire.”
October was ours, the Autumn season another one of our connections that fused us together, joining us, arm and arm. My lips sparked when we kissed quickly, my fingertips alight with electricity when we touched. There was so much undiscovered, so much under the surface, so much in our seasons spent together.
10. My Drug Buddy, with Evan Dando
“We have to laugh to look at each other.
We have to laugh ‘cos we’re not alone.”
It comes on unexpected, hitting me hard and fast, like a punch in the stomach, or a fall from a way up height, taking all my breath. It was not always the best thing for either of us, but we were something once upon a time. It is still hard to fathom that he is no longer here in this world, with or without me.
* Also, I cannot have a Juliana Hatfield list without a song shared with Evan Dando.