We are Siamese if You Don’t Please

How’s that title to start your day? Good luck getting it out of your head! I had to look up those crazy cats again because the only line I could remember was “We are Siamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don’t please.” Those are still the greatest lines but let me tell you, those bitches are mean.

There’s something about lyrics like “We are Siamese if you don’t please,” that transport you back to another time, another place, another body–one with less hair and fewer worries. I’m thinking that first rhythmic drum beat and base guitar combo at the start of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. And Sugar Ray singing, “Every morning there’s a hale-lot (sic) hanging from my girlfriend’s vote crossed bed…” (Which I now know are “halo” and “four post,” respectively.)

Like Jakob Dylan trying to sound British; the piano riff at the start of “All My Life” by Kaci and Jojo; the speaking parts of “Barbie Girl”; and me singing Savage Garden in 5th grade, staring out a window like I had a lover to sing about. There are time-traveling powers to listening your favorite Hanson brother own a chorus (Zack, duh). I hear “No Scrubs” and I’m suddenly back picturing my dweeby blue shirt, blue-pantsed, buck-shoed male classmates all over again–“Ya live at home wit ya momma…” No, literally.

If I catch “Where My Girls At” by 702 I feel like I’m riding home from softball practice covered in both dirt and the shame of being slightly below mediocre at softball. “Gone” by NSYNC and I’m at a middle school dance debating whether or not I am ready to “make out” with my boyfriend yet.

Music is important to almost everyone I’m close with. Mary Colleen Buettner is maybe the only exception, but she has lots of other great qualities. The thing about your childhood music, though, is how it imprints on you. It leaves marks and lessons and the most indelible memories. A few years ago, Alice, Caitlin and I went to a Backstreet Boys and Hanson concert. We became eleven year olds. It was magical. I wanted a choker necklace and Steve Maddens with stretchy band tops and chunky soles and a boy with a blonde bowl cut.

One explanation I have is for this phenomenon is that music can be one’s first taste of having an identity. I remember it being a big deal when Aubrey got the Neil Diamond Greatest Hits cassette and I got Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” As if I was no longer just Amanda. I was now “Amanda who likes Alanis,” and this is my sister, “Aubrey who likes Neil.”

Liking a music artist went beyond purple as a favorite color or that your favorite food was pizza. Besides, everyone’s favorite color was purple and everyone loved pizza. That didn’t make you special. But music was a whole new world (Yes, I, too, am thinking of Aladdin). You had choices. And likes and dislikes could say things about you. Through those sounds and words and foundation-covered faces, you could now select who you were by which CDs you chose from those Thirty CDs for a Penny clubs.

Then music transformed into a way to connect with friends. You could be a Backstreet type or an NSYNC gal–we were mostly both. Then, listening to those songs thousands of times in a row became a replacement for a comfort object. Ditch the teddy and the blanket for Lance and Justin. They were, after all, singing to us and we didn’t know Lance was gay back then. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t picked out their own outfits, let alone written a single word of their music. They were ours and we were each going to marry one of them. I would have prayed for you if you and one of your friends liked the same one–that was a non-starter.

Then, like many things, as a teenager music becomes a method of rebellion. You can pretend you’re “unique” and chose your own tastes. But it’s just because they’ll slightly upset the adults around you.

We all cycled through this until we finally started to actually like the music we like. The thing is, when I hear those old songs I can’t decide whether I love them because of what they make me think of or if I actually liked them all along. Regardless, it is entertaining to go back and listen. Below you will find actual lyrics from 3LW’s “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right).” I will let them close out this piece the classy way they do. And before you say, “Oh no, not me, I don’t know that song, I’d never listen to that” verify here and see below where I’ve bolded the very best part.

“Yo Yo Yo
A yo, you promised me Kate Spade
But that was last year
Boy in the eighth grade
And you ain’t biggie, baby boy
So it ain’t one more chance
When your friends around u don’t wanna hold my hand
And now you see a girl stylin’ and wildin’ inside the mix
Hoppin out the whips, the whips, the 5, the 6
Yes fly chrome, so pardon my tone
Here go a quarter, go call Tyrone”

5 thoughts on “We are Siamese if You Don’t Please

  1. This is so so so amazing. 3LW!! I LOVED that song. And the video. And I didn’t think it was cheesy at all! So they are in 9th grade if last year was 8th grade, yet they are making money to buy their “men” clothes that he wears with his friends!
    When I was driving Mavis who had a CD player, the only CDs I would listen to (because they are the only ones I have) were BSB, Nsync, Britney, etc. Judith, our new car, doesn’t have a CD player but I cannot get rid of those CDs. They’re in the attic – don’t tell Chris – with the rest of my AWESOME collection of music. Guess I am Dad’s daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t realize, at age 12, when I bought the single cassette of TLC’s Waterfalls, that I was establishing a permanent piece of my personality. I pressed play, rewind, and pause on that yellow boombox until I had scribbled (what I thought) were all the words to the “rap part” on a piece of loose leaf paper. I learned it, rehearsed it, and it’s been my go-to karaoke song and party trick ever since.

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  3. Who knew – music as a form of teenage rebellion?! Interesting concept and true starting in the 1950’s. The first record I ever bought was a 45 – The Doors with “Light My Fire”. I remember playing it when my Dad (RIP Big Jim) and Mom (RIP Little Annie Doran) were home just to get the inevitable “Turn that crap off!” response. You can talk about Pavlov’s Dog all you want but I had way more fun with my parents. LOL, D

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  4. Our thing was walking all the way up Northway Drive to Harford Road to the Five and Dime Store, next to Northern Pharmacy, to purchase a “45” ( 45 RPM) record whenever we had 99 cents. All the 45s were standing up in a bin and you could page through them and make a selection. They were 95 cents each plus 4 cents tax. Sometimes with Carol, sometimes with Patty Brooks. Each one was a treasure, each with significance. They must be down the basement now. I remember listening to Sweet Caroline (1969) over and over on a tiny turntable in Patty Brooks’s basement because she was the only one that had it. And the Jackson Five 45s! We were fascinated that Michael Jackson was younger than us and so talented!
    When my brother Michael was old enough, he got Dream On by Aeorsmith and played it a over again million times down our basement on (Northway Drive).
    This may be old fashioned, but I still love having iTunes (thanks Steve Crane) so I can order the old songs. Someday I have to check the ones in the basement. Thanks for the incentive! And to Skip Eby who seems very impressed by old 45s.

    Liked by 1 person

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