Song Challenge Week 7 — A Song That Reminds You Of A Certain Event

OK, I started this quite a while back and then dropped the ball, but I’m going to try picking up the 30 Day Song Challenge again as a weekly project.

Week 7 — A Song That Reminds You Of A Certain Event

“Wonderwall,” Oasis

OK, this one was hard. Not because too few songs came to mind, but because too many did.

The problem was, they were all either obvious, or contrived.

Take, for example, Sheryl Crow’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.” I got to see Sheryl Crow in concert once, many many years ago, at Mississippi State University. She’d included the song on her most recent album, but it wasn’t like it was a single or anything, so I’d had a discussion with friends on the odds as to whether she, being in Mississippi, would sing “Mississippi.” She did, and I was a happy man. But saying that a Sheryl Crow song reminds me of a Sheryl Crow concert is a bit on-the-nose, in my opinion. So out go all of the songs that remind me of a particular concert experience.

Likewise, out go all the songs that remind me of a particularly event because I deliberately chose them for that event. Yes, “The Final Countdown” reminds me of the STS-135 final launch of the space shuttle, but mainly because I chose to listen to it going to the launch because it was so obvious. Yes, I associate my Bob Mould recording of “Hoover Dam” with, you know, being at the Hoover Dam, but, again, that’s because I made a point of playing the song as I drove through the parking garage at the dam.

(Disclosure: I also rejected the guilty pleasure of Britney Spear’s “Womanizer,” which I associate with a trip to San Francisco for random reasons, purely on the basis of the fact that I didn’t want to post the video on my blog.)

So that brings us to “Wonderwall.”

Rewind back to April 1996, my senior year at Ole Miss.

I was a few credits short of graduation, but I had unfinished business.

Two years earlier, I had run for editor of the Ole Miss student newspaper, “The Daily Mississippian.”

And lost.

It was at the end of my sophomore year, which made me a little young, but I really felt I was qualified. In fact, technically speaking, I was the only qualified candidate. I’ve written before about the circumstances that led up to my not getting the position. Regardless of how I see them years later, at the time, it stung. I felt robbed.

I decided to strike out on my own, and start my own publication, and then sat out the second semester of my junior year, so I didn’t run for editor that year. By my senior year, however, I had begun working at The DM again, and decided to give it one last shot. It would have basically meant staying at Ole Miss another year, but I figured it was worth it to graduate with DM editor on my resumé.

Long story short, I lost again. I knew it was a long shot. There was someone who had been groomed for the position, directly by having served as managing editor for the past year, and, really, his whole life, as the son of two former editors-in-chief of the Mississippian. I knew Rob would do a good job, and had no objection at all to him beating me, I just figured it was worth a shot.

But, knowing it was a long shot didn’t mean that part of me didn’t feel like maybe, just maybe, the decision this time would redeem the perceived injustice from two years earlier.

It didn’t help that,  driving over for the editor selection, the brothers Gallagher came on Rebel Radio and sang to me that “today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you.” All these years later, that song still takes me back to that moment.

And, you know, all the roads we have to walk are winding.

Re-Pressed Memories

OK, this is another one of those posts that my sporadic blogging has caused me to be posting way too late, but I didn’t want to not.

Earlier this summer, I got to do a bit of time-traveling.

You see, this year, Ole Miss’ student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, turned 100, and a grand reunion was held at the university’s journalism school building.

Six years ago, we’d had a mini-reunion of several of the people I worked with, a sort of surprise birthday party I threw myself when I turned 30 (I knew it was my birthday party, most of the rest of the group didn’t). We’ve talked ever since about how we should do it again, and this time possibly plan far enough ahead to involve some of the more far-flung staff members who weren’t able to make it that time. When we found out about the 100th anniversary event, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

And, really, it was.

I saw friends that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and, even with those I see more often, it was really great seeing everybody together.

The DM staff my first two years there was a very close-knit group, and I think we all imagined we would be friends forever. Over the years, we’ve drifted apart some from time to time, but it’s very neat seeing how, almost two decades later, we always tend to drift back together. And, as I’ve alluded to here, it’s been a rough summer for me, and it meant a huge deal for me to be surrounded by old friends who still love me. During my time at Ole Miss, far more than my dorm room, the journalism building, and the friends I shared it with, were home, and it was nice getting to be home that way again for a couple of days this summer.

Nik Dirga, who, being in New Zealand, wasn’t able to make the reunion, wrote a cool piece about the anniversary anyway, and I have to brag that The DM was named the 14th best student newspaper in the nation recently.

Foe? Sure.

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Enemies.”


Me at a DM reunion held a few years ago holding a picture of the photo I used on my columns when I started writing for The Daily Mississippian. Photo by Lain Hughes.

I should have been editor of The Daily Mississippian.

At the end of my sophomore year at Ole Miss, I decided to run for the editorship of the student paper.

I was the only person who met the qualifications to be editor.  They allowed two other candidates to run.  Next, of the three of us, I was the only one to finish the test demonstrating competency to be editor.

Then there was a meeting of the editor selection committee, composed of students, journalism professionals, and members of the university staff. I could relate the stories I heard of what happened in that meeting, or of the outside factors that supposedly biased the selection, but they really don’t matter. Long story short, I wasn’t selected.

I was upset.

In fact, I was bitter. Bitter against the system I felt had cheated me, and bitter against the candidate who won.

I left the official student publication and launched my own local entertainment publication. By any reasonable measure it was unsuccessful, lasting only four issues, but it succeeded in the important area of letting me spread my wings and get experience I couldn’t have gained at The Mississippian.

Over time, my bitterness faded.  The selection committee most likely did me a favor. I had potential; I needed discretion. Losing the editorship earned me some personal maturity and pursuing my own publication  earned me some professional maturity that I would have missed out on had things gone differently.

The candidate who was selected was a different matter. She hadn’t done me any favors. She got something that I had worked hard to be qualified for and she wasn’t. She squandered the opportunity she’d been given. That bitterness was harder to let go.

I saw her once, a couple of years later, at a wedding. Her gang and my gang avoided each other.

Over the years after that, there were only the occasional rumors, friends who had brief contact or had heard news. I didn’t really keep track, but listened when people had something to say, especially if it was bad. I wanted vindication. I wanted proof that the wrong choice had been made.

And then came Facebook. To her credit, she put in the friend request to me. She doesn’t use it much, so we don’t have much contact, but seeing her profile allowed me to catch up a bit on the intervening years.

I’ll admit, I’ll admit that, for a brief second there, I experienced a moment of schadenfreude that her life hadn’t turned out the way it seemed to be going way back when. And, making it even worse, some of it wasn’t even about that vindication I’d talked about. No, she wasn’t in journalism anymore, so there was that. But part of it was things in her personal life.

Ultimately, though, what I saw on that page was this — we’re both just people. We both weren’t who or where we were 17 years ago. She wasn’t in newspapers anymore. Neither am I. Her marriage had ended. So had mine. She’d found new things to make her happy, to fill her life. So had I. We really weren’t all that different. And the editor selection that seemed like such a big deal all those years ago really wasn’t. And the bitterness that seemed so worthwhile really wasn’t.

I’ve prided myself on not having enemies. I mean, sure there are probably people in other countries who would gladly kill me and all that, but I’m talking personally. There are people who I’ve been at odds with, and there are people I believe have done me wrong. But I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at not holding grudges. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at not letting bitterness influence me.

But if I were to be honest, there are probably people out there that I still carry bitterness against. And that Facebook experience was a good reminder that somethings just aren’t worth carrying.

For my 30th birthday, I had a secret birthday party for myself — I planned a reunion of many of my DM fellow staff members that weekend, telling no one that there was an occasion behind it. Back then, I was too petty to invite the person who became editor. If we ever do it again, I hope she can make it.