Lyrics and Life
By Caitlin Ward
He was a boy, she was a girl
He was a skater boy, she said “see
ya later, boy.”
Five years from now, she sits at home
He was a skater boy, she said see ya later boy.
Sorry girl, but you missed out.
He’s just a boy, and I’m just
I’m with the skater boy I said ‘see
ya later, boy.
It was this past April when six of us were wedged into my coworker’s
tiny office eating cupcakes that I declared I was going to road trip
it down to New York to propose to Scott Bradlee. Most of my coworkers
thought this was funny; one of them was slightly concerned. Who was this
fellow, and why did I want to marry someone who lived so far away?
It was kind of difficult to explain at the time. This proposal business
was a joke my sister and I started on Facebook last November. Now, bear
with me for a second; you need a bit of context. Nickelback had been
booked to play the half-time show at the Thanksgiving Day football game
in Detroit. You see, people from Detroit were very unhappy about this
Nickelback business. In fact, it got quite heated: there was a petition
with 55,000 signatures demanding the band be replaced, and when they
did take the stage at the halftime show, they were booed.
So, in a rather tongue-in-cheek attempt to assuage the
pro- and anti-Nickelback camps, New York-based pianist Scott Bradlee
released a video called A Motown Tribute to Nickelback — Detroit being the birthplace of
Motown. He arranged a full band version of How You Remind Me, complete
with tambourine player (creatively named Tambourine Guy by the song’s
fans) and saxophone. My sister knows my particular affection for Motown
(and really, most music that involves any sort of brass section), so
she posted it on my Facebook wall.
Immediately, I declared my undying love for Scott Bradlee
for coming up with this concept. After I perused his YouTube channel
and found out that he also does ragtime piano versions of hits from the ’80s,
it became clear that I probably had to marry him. And so, my sister and
I concocted a hare-brained scheme to drive down to New York the next
time she came home to visit.
Many months later in my coworker’s office on the cupcake coffee
break, I showed the group the band’s more recently released video:
A Motown Tribute to Avril Lavigne, in which Tambourine Guy makes good
on the song’s name (Sk8er Boi) by wearing roller skates. This is
when I mentioned that I was going to propose to Scott Bradlee.
You have to understand, though: this was never a real scheme.
Not a thing that was actually going to happen. It isn’t quite right
to call it a joke, as I did earlier, but it is a sort of exercise in
silliness, with no basis in reality.
This idea of a grandiose but non-existent scheme was not
familiar to my coworker, who didn’t seem to believe me when I said I’d
never met Scott Bradlee and I really had no intention of making any attempts
to propose to him, in New York or otherwise. Why would I say such things
if I didn’t mean them?
Well, mostly, because it’s funny, but I will admit it’s partly
also because I have apparently not quite got past the point in my life
where I fall slightly in love with people I’ve never met. Now,
I have no illusions about the fact that this makes me a very silly person,
but I’m also not insane. I don’t know the guy. And I have
my dignity. Or at least, some semblance of it.
But you know, part of me wasn’t sure if I did have
any dignity, or a semblance of it, either. Perhaps I really am just a
13-year-old on the inside.
It was only when A Motown Tribute to Nickelback decided
to make an album and began a Kickstarter online that I realized, no,
I may actually be something of a grown up. For those who don’t know, a Kickstarter
is, essentially, asking fans of a band to pay for an album before it’s
made. It’s an act of faith that if the band makes their goal (in
this case, $3,000), they will produce an album and send it to you if
you pledged money online. For musicians, you generally have to donate
at least $10 in order to receive the album, but you’re welcome
to donate more.
If this article has taught you anything thus far, you should know that
I would be very on board with this band making an album. So I wanted
to donate more than $10, but here was the issue: the more you donated,
the more stuff the band would give you. It was in levels, and at the
level I wanted to donate, I would be entitled to a half-hour Skype date
with Scott Bradlee in which he played any song I wanted on the piano.
This was very distressing to me. I did not want to have
to talk to Scott Bradlee. Now, I’m sure he’s a lovely human being; if I met
him under normal circumstances, I could likely have a reasonable conversation
with him. But I’m not sure how the piano Skype date could be anything
but very strange for both of us. How on earth could I have an intelligent
exchange with someone under such artificial circumstances? I didn’t
want to just sit there and be a fan of him for half an hour. Eventually,
I worked out that I could donate as much as I liked and as long as I
selected the $10 reward in the menu, that’s all I would get. You
see, I really just wanted the music.
So maybe, just maybe, I’ve actually become some sort of grown up who has moved past those obsessive 13-year-old tendencies I once had. But then again, maybe not; I did donate more money to that Kickstarter than I’m willing to admit in public.
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