Anyone who’s a music fan has them. Those handful of songs that transcend every other tune you’ve ever heard. Those songs that you never tire of, you know or own every recorded version, you know the nuances of the vocal performances for each recording, you can hum the bass line, the guitar solo, the defining lick. You know their back stories and meanings. If you could Facebook stalk them you would.
Every time you hear them something stirs in you, you might get choked up or you might rock out so hard that the guy in the next lane thinks you are drunk or need serious help. Some you might feel ashamed of, a guilty pleasure that was once in vogue but now has fallen out of favor.
But some songs might even change your life…
One of those songs for me is “17” by former Red Dirt juggernaut Cross Canadian Ragweed. It was the song that introduced me to their music and further entrenched me in the Red Dirt music scene. A song about not being able to escape your past, it’s got a guitar lick that any Texas Country fan recognizes instantly. Former front man, Cody Canada, tells the story of how he lifted that lick from “Linus and Lucy” (a.k.a. the Peanuts theme song). He also graciously credits his good friend Jason Boland “50%” for coming up with the hook. I’m not going to repeat the story because I think it should only come from Cody, you can hear it off of his acoustic album.
So how did this song affect me? About four years ago, I was going through a rough time. I had changed jobs, lost my sense of direction in life, trying to figure out the meaning of it all. I was an emotional basketcase – depressed and anxious and needed something. One day driving I was running through my Texas music playlist and “17” came on. I had always loved the song but today was different. There is a line in the chorus that goes “you keep on runnin’ boy, you run yourself in the ground.” Choked up, I told myself “man I GOTTA learn to play this song”. Fortunately I had bought my wife a Seagull S6 folk guitar as a wedding gift 10 years earlier. We both took a shot at learning but clearly didn’t understand the time commitment involved in playing guitar. Then we started having kids and so it sat in the closet for 10 years. Thank God I never sold it. I got home that night and picked the thing up. I had no idea how to tune it, hold it, fret a note, play a chord. A total noob.
Now I had to find a teacher. After a Google search I found Justin Sandercoe. If you’ve never been to his site you need to check it out, he is the best guitar teacher on the internet. His site is a treasure trove of guitar wisdom and he immediately became my primary guitar teacher. At that point, I started spending 30 minutes a day in the front seat of my 2007 Toyota Yaris learning to play. Yes, I learned how to play guitar out of my freakin’ car. So ghetto. “17” was the 2nd song I learned (Margaritaville was #1 – G, A, and D are some of the first chords one learns in Justin’s Beginner Course). The “17” lick was the first lick I ever learned.
So now I have a passion for guitar. I spend as much time as a dad of 3 can practicing and I’ve dumped a lot of hours into learning the past 4 years. My children are getting exposed to music first hand which is a good thing and I highly doubt I’d be blogging about Texas music had it not been for Cody and that song. That song helped awaken a passion I knew I had but never had the fortitude to explore.
For those who’ve never heard the song, here you go
Oh that bleached blonde hair. Clearly going with the rock star look in 2002. The other thing I noticed was how new his PRS was back then. Here is a more recent shot and God knows what it looks like now.
I still listen to “17” a few times a week. I know some of you appreciate this song as much as I do and Cody even understands the impact it had on HIS career. Never stop playing it man, you have a classic.
Thank you Cody and Justin for helping to pull me out of a nose dive. Love you guys.
Oh and I have another Cody Canada story coming in a future post. Good stuff.
So… do you have any transcendent songs? Let me know.