adrienne224 New Reader
11/4/17 10:37 p.m.

Missing, more than words: Pop songs may be cliches, but they're also gentle on my mind, like my memories of one good man in the music business

One winter night, Steve asked me to name the one song in the pop pantheon I wished I'd written. When a guy asks you a question like that, you know he already has his answer figured out, so I told him to go first. "The Girl From Ipanema," Steve said without hesitation. This guy, my favourite guitar-slinging, hard-partying, Cadillac-driving man around town . . . attached to a quaint Brazilian samba?

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To pose a rather Carrie Bradshaw-esque question: What do the songs we love say about us?

We skirt around acknowledging it in our daily lives, the power of a great pop song. And yet how easily we remember every beat of the songs that played during our first slow dances, the songs we lost our virginity to, the songs we got married to, the songs we played 13 times in a row with a bottle of cheap red wine cursing our heartache, the songs that mean goodbye and I need you and I'm sorry and f -- k you and you're forgiven and I miss you and baby won't you please come home. If it's a cliche, it's probably got a chorus. Karaoke competitions like American Idol are bottom-feeders for our loving feelings about sad songs that say so much.


Me? Sad songs? I've got a whole library. Cancer stole Steve away from me last year and left a huge silence I searched to fill. Steve and I first met through our careers in the music business. We were both professionals and fans, music junkies who listened avidly to all genres, at all times of the day and night. The soundtrack of our relationship is particularly rich and sentimental and even corny to me because there is so much to choose from -- taken collectively, it's as daunting and diverse as those eponymous compilations hawked on Time-Life infomercials.


The soundtrack of my love for Steve would have to be a DVD boxed set -- because you'd need all of my memory's video clips to really understand and appreciate it. Like the Afghan Whigs song I had on the turntable when Steve charmed me by showing up for my deejay gig at a local club; it will always conjure up the butterflies I felt in that instant. Or the song we saw lip-synched a hundred times, as we camped out all night in the rainy streets of Toronto making a video for a flash-in-the-pan boy band. Or the afternoon drives with radio Q107 filling the car speakers, the Sunday morning coffee Sade, the 2 a.m. Billie Holiday, the Fleetwood Mac that blared in the background the last time I ever snuggled with Steve on his living room sofa.

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Most poignant in my memory bank are the songs that kept me company in the last week of Steve's life, my stereo acting as the best friend who knew exactly what to say in a moment suspended between anguish, dread and relief.


I think the true genius of a song lurks in the catch in the throat of the singer, the mood change from major to minor, the perfect chord progression, the ache that a note twisted in the wind can produce in the pit of a stomach. We love a great pop song because it's often the stuff we wish we could say, with all the grace and cadence we don't possess.


Some songs are almost sleazy in their sentiment, like they're copping a feel for my heart. I'm occasionally ashamed at how I succumb to such an obviously well-placed grab. Case in point: Tim McGraw's cloying current single, Live Like You Were Dying. It's a classic country cautionary tale of a man diagnosed with a terminal illness. The hero of the song doesn't wallow in self-pity, and he doesn't self-destruct: Instead, he goes on a skydiving, bull-riding, woman-loving joyride with all the emotional abandon he never let himself experience when he wasn't staring his mortality in the face. The song skewers me because -- and forgive me, Steve, for even putting you in the same sentence as this epic of emotional fromage -- what I loved most about the man I lost was the fact that he stepped up and did exactly the same thing as Mr. McGraw's cowboy hero. (Okay, minus the bull-riding.) And every three minutes and 30 seconds of that schlock on the radio invites -- no, sucks me into -- a reverie where I may quietly honour a life lived large.

It's cruelly coincidental that one of the biggest bands Steve ever worked with wrote the song that served poignantly as his eulogy. A genre-defining hair band ballad in the early '90s, More than Words catapulted Extreme to the top of the rock charts -- and a short decade later the band's two frontmen would reunite in front of Steve's casket at his funeral to perform their aching tune of a heart torn in two. "More than words to show you feel, that your love for me is real. . . . " The avalanche of tears that performance elicited from the hundreds of grieving people in the synagogue was pop catharsis in its most naked display.

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Sometimes we all need to start crying, or to cry again, or to cry just a little longer to say goodbye. And sometimes there's nothing better than a song to turn the emotional faucet on.

This past September, when Steve's family unveiled his tombstone, I think they picked the perfect inscription

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
11/5/17 5:34 a.m.

In reply to adrienne224 :

Without looking it up I'd guess one of the Exiege variants. 

paulmpetrun Reader
11/7/17 7:47 p.m.

"Best" in my opinion is all personal tastes.  Are you asking about Lotus since they started, or just early cars, or late cars etc...  I am lucky enough to own 66' and 68' Elan's.  And have built a couple 7 replicas for track use.  Plus driven a Europa, Elan Coupe, and an early Elise when they came to the US.  For me personally my favorite cars are the early ones, 7's, Elans, Europas, 1st gen Esprits.  My 68' Elan is so unlike any car I have ever been in or driven.  With the tiny little tires, 1400lb weight, and sheer tiny-ness(sp?).  It truly makes a miata feel huge.  The steering is light and perfectly weighted, shifting is beyond delicate, but amazingly precise, and the little 1600 twin cam feels way stronger than its rated 115-ish hp should be. 

The other early cars drove much the same.  My 7 replicas were just track cars and very harsh and focused.  They weighed just a bit less than 1000lbs with me in them on the track.  Both were built with Yamaha R1 motorcycle engines.  Acceleration was quite brisk!  Fast as heck, but only really good for what they were intended.  The Elise, just didn't wow me in any way.  Power was underwhelming, and to me it drove just like any other new performance car.  Yes it was light, and was fast, but it just left me without any sort of WOW factor.  I would love to drive and hopefully own an 83 to 87 turbo esprit one day.  As a kid of the 80's those are the posters that were on my wall.  That sharp edged body of the Giugiaro design is my favorite! 

If your looking to buy one, as always, go sit it, and try and drive them all.  They all perform way better than almost anything else. 

Good luck


Vigo UltimaDork
11/16/17 11:06 p.m.

I think i read that the newest top-spec Evora variant is finally faster around a track than any Elise/Exige variant?

Toebra HalfDork
12/5/17 11:52 p.m.

Depends on what you mean by "best," but I am pretty sure the best Lotus is a Miata

RossD MegaDork
12/11/17 1:53 p.m.

Caterham makes the best 7.

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