Thursday, August 8, 2013

If Jessie's Girl Was A Boy - Songs As Chapter Titles

If Jessie's Girl Was A Boy has been the hardest summary to write and yet it's a light chapter with a fun song. What's up with that? It took several drafts but finally I realized what I needed to write.

thank you tumblr
Once I gave myself permission to make up songs, I wanted to exercise the opportunity. I think that desire forced my only shoot and a miss. Instead of using the original Rick Springfield song, permitting people to connect the ironic dots, I spelled it out. This is the classic blunder of hammering readers over the head, saying See, Jessie is a girl and her boyfriend is being coveted. GET IT? HUH, do ya? 

Did I think the chapter was too sweet and want to add a little edge? I'm not sure. I know I imagined a punk band toying with 80's pop music, making it their own by disembowling the soft, mushy lyrics. I pondered how it would sound. Would the lyrics be a parody? Could Jessie still be a guy? It's an androgynous name, so who's to say. 

For sound, I was thinking of Limp Bizkit's cover of George Michael's "Faith." I love the screaming, raging rendition of that poppy tune. It amazes me how songs can be altered by a different presentation. Chris Cornell's version of Billy Jean is sad--and was a real shocker because I never cared for the original. It sounded petty and self-serving--a guy ducking his responsibility. But Cornell slowed it down, dragged it out and I heard it for the first time. 

However, my imaginary punk band wasn't always doing a cover but often a cruel deconstruction of cute music. I never commondeered the melody and 'Weird Al'd" the lyrics. If I had, I could have used them as a conversation piece in the scene and linked it all together.

Since none of these details appear in the chapter, any play on the title doesn't work. Furthermore, in the diner scene, Jessie's Girl plays as a fun backdrop for Whitney's meet cute with Leah's pick-me-up. Rick Springfield's anthem is straight out of a high school romantic comedy--a perfect accompaniment because the chapter is about Whitney's achingly naive approach to romance.

But the song isn't just about crushes and coveting. It's about the friendship of the singer and Jessie. This line is perfect as the role of Greek chorus:

Sure it's a simple scene of Whitney flirting over brunch, but the lyrics above accentuate the real point of the chapter. Something's changed. Love triangles rarely work out for all three. We're at the beginning of an old story with a common conclusion. It's the speed, the turns, the unexpected plunges after incredible highs that make the story unique.

Writing this summary has proven that Jessie's Girl was the best song for the chapter title. What can I say. The point is probably moot.


I'd love to know your thoughts on who should do a cover of this iconic 80s song. Please, fill the comments with all your thoughts.

And finally, if you want a laugh, check this out.