Music, Memories & Madness



Ah, music.  From gym playlists to concerts, tunes that let us get our groove on are always a good thing.

Whether chatting about Beyonce’s use of the “B-word” in her latest song “Bow Down,” reminiscing about music from back in the day (oh boy, that would be Def Leppard, Belinda Carlisle and Eddie Money for me) or excited about checking out a new local band, one thing’s certain: society’s enjoyment of and fascination with music never goes away.

Music defines us.  Many of my junior high and high school memories are of playing the cello.  Around that same time, I became hooked REO Speedwagon and Cyndi Lauper.  When Madonna came on the scene, I actually recall feeling a twinge of anger because Little Miss Newbie stole Lauper’s spotlight. The nerve!  And The Police?  I loved the whole “how’s it feel now that the table’s have turned” vibe in their “Wrapped Around Your Finger” lyrics.  It was the most creative twist in a song.  Ever.

Marrying Rick Springfield and Wearing Naughty Bracelets

Of course, like many girls back then, I knew I’d eventually exchange vows with  Rick Springfield.  Well, perhaps Jack Wagner – remember his song, “All I Need” and his GH character Frisco?  Sigh.  Bono in those sunglasses was just . . . wow.  Today, Bon Jovi’s charismatic smile and ability to play up the camera continues to charm me.  Clearly, band member crushes are not uncommon. I can still see my Mom’s hand-drawn heart on the bottom of a wooden chair.  Inside the heart was her Beatle devotion:  the word, “Davy” had permanently scared the seat, but healed her teenage heart.  My friend in high school declared his love for Her Hotness, Lita Ford, adding that she looked good for “someone in her forties.”  And heck, who doesn’t admire Tina Turner’s sculpted legs?

album-Rick-Springfield-Working-Class-Dog madonna rubber bracelets

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was an eargasm before “eargasm” was even a word and anyone wearing plastic “Madonna” bracelets was in touch with their inner material girl.  My Jackson faves?  “Beat It” and “Dirty Diana.”    Apparently the Madonna bracelets carried some kind of raunchy boudoir “let’s wear cones-on-our-breasts” meaning, but at that age, what did we know? Or care? We were cool without even knowing why.

Loudness & Creativity

“Eye of the Tiger” was fierce enough to make my even my Sinatra-loving grandmother tap her toes, although our fourth grade teacher was visibly upset when an impromptu auditorium gathering forced her sensitive ears to hear another band class perform the tune.  Us kids were in our glory.  But Miss. Forsell would have nothing to do with such nonsense.

I recall (somewhat embarrassingly) blasting Air Supply as my friend MaryAnn and I used the handles of a jump rope as a “microphone,” her at one end and me at the other, belting out lyrics that stopped only when our Strawberry Quik sugar highs did.  In later years, Molly and I had a momentary obsession with Boston’s “MaryAnn,” and during one long road trip, drove my parents crazy with our incessant “press rewind” requests.


Boston and more Boston, please.

In my early thirties, several of us silly coworkers enjoyed a game of “Create a Band Name” during our lunch hour.  The idea stemmed from a discussion about the peculiarity behind some band and song names. Smashing Pumpkins.  Alice in Chains.  So we devised our own rules by scrawling random words on paper, tossing them in a box, then plucking them two or three at a time. We laughed ourselves silly at our creations: band names like Diabetic Wedding, Junkyard Erosion and Nylon Sexpots emerged. Somehow, “Blind Johnny & the Menstrual Bagladies” became the most memorable and is still the first we recall to this day, almost 10 years later.  Song and album titles included Eternal Flatulence, Flighty Urges and Toothless Lamp Post.

At times, I get a case of Solo Sillies and play out scenes in my head where I imagine getting in a taxi.  When the driver asks my destination, I pause and say, “won’t you take me, take me to . . funnnnkkkkky toooowwnn” at which point I crack myself up, then get back to paying my bills.

Good, Bad & Weird Memories

Some of the memories are not so great.  For reasons still unknown, my mother immediately switches the station if a CCR song plays.  In another case, my friend was more nervous about the DJ forgetting her request to not play Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath my Wings” than she was about having cake smashed on her face.  Personally, Richard Marx triggers my station-changing finger.  Too sad, even though it was well over 20 years ago.  My other no-no?  Paul Simon’s “Call me Al.”  It’s a catchy tune, but friends played it over so many times one weekend that I seriously think it did something weird to my brain.


One friend’s wedding no-no.

Then there are song moments.  And I mean moments.  It’s that part that makes the whole tune so worth listening to, even if the rest of it is ridiculous – or not.  I enjoy the Chipmunk’s Christmas song (no, I’m serious), but for two very specific reasons: Alvin’s cute grumpiness (“O . . . K”) and later, the simplicity behind the gift request: “I just want a hoooooola-hoooooop.” Adorable. I love Whitesnake’s violin-bow-on-guitar sound in “Still of the Night” (specifically at 3:15 into the song) because well, its the coolest part of the song. And then there’s that whole “red light, yellow light, green light go” thing in Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Yeah, I don’t get my red light lyric obsession either, but whenever that song plays, I make a point of listening to that particular bit. Gerry Rafferty and the sax in Baker Street is beyond wonderful.  Sometimes, those moments come abruptly: I’ve awoken with David Bowie’s “Heroes” and Jackson Browne’s “Lawyers in Love” in my head for no reason whatsoever.


Don’t even get me going on concerts and my ever-changing tastes in music.  My first concert was a late 80s Scorpions show in high school.   A decade after, I enjoyed a Judy Collins performance.  (Is it too much to admit to still singing “Send in the Clowns” in the shower?  I mean, tile echos make everyone sound awesome).  A few years ago, I saw Eddie Money.  Even though I cringed when he spun around a wee bit too, um, enthusiastically, I felt  über cool, especially when I heard those first few recognizable notes of my Money favorite, “Take me Home Tonight.”

These days, I’m enjoying the cool tunes of The Slakas, a terrific classic rock cover band based out of southern New Hampshire (Billy Squier, Foreigner, Heart . . . ).

My iPod? Wow. It has everything from Disturbed and Jewel to Bruno Mars and Bocelli.

My Dad, an announcer at a local upstate NY radio station during his teenage years, showed me his set of eight-tracks. It was 1980-something and I had no clue what those boxy clunkers were.  My records were far cooler, or so I thought. To this day, he gets a kick out of “announcing” the song, artist and year before his XM radio displays the information . . . and his resulting smirk says he still nails all that Grand Funk Railroad and Jethro Tull goodness.


Dad, back in the day.

Music transport us, soothes our soul, even stirs up the pot.

Even when we don’t intend it to.

What does it do for you?


Note: I wrote a variation of this post for The Budget Fashionista, a beauty and fashion website for ladies who like to look their best for less.  It appeared on 4/4/13 and highlighted music-inspired jewelry.  This Thought Buffet version features additions and much more personal elaboration, and has differences from the original post on The Budget Fashionista.  If you’d like to check out that post, or better yet, if you’re inclined to publicly declare your love of hip shakin’ goodness, check out the affordable music-inspired jewelry I mentioned on The Budget Fashionista, all under $50.

Blind Johnny & the Menstrual Bag Ladies


Eternal Flatulence isn’t the price one pays after an evening of  bean casserole overindulgence. Nor is it a pit of flames where, upon death, one is forever surrounded by morally corrupt wind-blowers.      

Just like Seaweed Atheists are not algae-wrapped humans who chant deity existence theories from atop sea jetties.     

So what’s with the odd concoction of words?      

Blame the unusual word pairings on a box of lunchroom chocolates and the question: Where DO some of these bands get their names?      

Hootie & the Blowfish, or, What’s in a Name?

We were at work. The announcement that a box of chocolate truffles had just arrived was made. The three of us emerged from our department like wolves on the prowl, the scent of cocoa running deep in our veins. Just moments before lunch, we lived up to our “life’s short, eat dessert first” philosophy.    

It was there in the kitchen – surrounded by the official bulletin board promise that our bathroom was “satisfactorily sanitary” and a golden Godiva® box on the table – where we unleashed the silliness.    

Prelude to Silliness


Just as random as the array of assorted chocolates that sat before us, someone suddenly broadcast:     

“Some band names are really strange.”    


“You know, you’re right. . .”    

A slew of examples were quickly rattled off: Alice in Chains. Grand Funk Railroad.  Smashing Pumpkins. Jefferson Airplane. Herman’s Hermits.    


“Yeah, how do they come up with such unusual names?”    

And with that, “imagine if” scenario #982 unfolded right along with the foil around my dark hazelnut truffle.    

“Imagine if they sat around, each band member writing random words on pieces of paper, one word per piece of paper. Then they toss ‘em all in a hat and pick out two or three pieces at a time. They abide by the rule that they must – absolutely MUST- make the words scrawled on those chosen two or three pieces of paper their band name. Forever.”    

That said, the adventure began. High on phenethylamine and raspberry sweetness, we armed ourselves with pens and scrap paper. We let the words flow.    

Potato. Hamper. Flames. Jock strap. Fleas. Elixir. Moss.    

Mixed them all up, chose a few at a time.    

The fate of a band name was about to be determined by a plucked Post-It bearing a caramel-creamed fingerprint:    

Jockstrap Elixir.     


This went on. And on.    

Ladies & Gentlemen, Give it up for . . .

Among those on our list that day:    

Band Names:    

Blind Johnny & the Menstrual Bag Ladies     

Junkyard Erosion (heavy metal, we envisioned)     

Random Cyanide (ditto)     

Cyclone Blues (jazzy, with a wild, unpredictable edge, hence “cyclone”)     

Nylon Sexpots (well, at least we knew how the band members would look)     

Seaweed Atheists    

Funky Dumbass & the Critical Nosebleeds (funk)    

Album/Song Titles:    

Sleepwalkers of the Earth    

Boiling Ego Trip    

Diabetic Wedding    

Eternal Flatulence    

Sadistic Taco    

Toothless Lamp Post    

Coed Mooning   

Flighty Urges    

Taking silliness seriously: a formal listing of our band name creations

This went on for months. Co-workers began to wonder what could possibly be causing such lunchroom hilarity. Egg salad sandwiches were not THAT funny, after all.  They might lead to a bit of Eternal Flatulence, yes, but what was going on that that was so darn amusing?

When mumblings of  “Derailed Turtles,” “Melting Shoehorns” and “Borescope Monstrosities” leaked, a few joined in on the fun while others feigned smiles and scratched their heads (the latter, likely listeners of the aforementioned Boiling Ego Trip album).    

The Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken of Word Platters

The point to all of this?    


We simply found something silly about the random injection of words, the surprise fusion of pairing the nonsensical with sensical. It was the Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken of word platters.    


It was a crazy little mid-day diversion from the ordinary that fueled our imagination, allowed us to escape from the routine, and always led to good laughs.    

After lunch, we’d get back to work. We’d finish, turn in our work, then turn out the driveway. On the way home, our grins were as broad as the music played on the stations, but none got our attention more than the latest hit we heard that day, “Contagious Endorphins” performed by none other than the Eccentric Truffle Girls.    


The Author, Truffle Eater & Band Namer

Jen Lilley, 35, has a taste in music that is much like the dark hazelnut truffles she so enjoys:  sweet sometimes, heavy others.  From Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Lorena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan to Def Leppard, Eddie Money, Boston, Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin, it’s all meant to be enjoyed and savored.  

© Jennifer Lilley and Jen Lilley’s Thought Buffet, 2010.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lilley and Jen Lilley’s Thought Buffet with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.