[identity profile] cabaretlights.livejournal.com


Head Over Heels
Artist: Tears for Fears
Album: Songs From the Big Chair
Year: 1985
: Finding a song for this theme was way, way more difficult than I thought it would be, but part of the issue is that my mother and I have very different taste in music. She's often more willing to listen to mine than I am to hers (I just...there's something about disco, okay, I just can't do it); when I first lived downtown and was burning "songs-of-the-moment" mixes to bring back to Rigaud, I'd excitedly pop them in the car CD player when she picked me up from John Abbott:
Me: "MOTHER. LISTEN TO THIS. THIS IS LIKE MY FAVOURITE SONG, OKAY."
Mother: "Jill, you said that about the last five songs."
Me: "OKAY I KNOW, BUT THIS ONE REALLY IS."
And despite the fact that she was driving, had her own music, and rarely enjoyed my songs as much as I did, she'd patiently let me listen to them the entire ride home, graciously indulging my musical passion.


But then, that's not surprising ----- my mother has graciously, and unequivocally, indulged all of my passions.

My mother is one of those people who was meant, destined, to be a mother. When someone, anyone, makes a laundry list of ideal qualities in a mother, I can check off every single one: Nurturing. Supportive. Understanding. Loving. Gentle. Self-sacrificing. Etcetera. But what makes her amazing, what sets her apart, is that the list doesn't stop there: she is also creative, talented, funny, adaptive, intelligent -- and, especially in the years since my father died -- independent, strong, and uncompromising. She is a role model, but she has never once stood in my way or Veronica's; tried to persuade us to do or be someone other than we were. This encourages us to tell her essentially everything that goes on in our lives: we know we won't be judged and we never have to doubt her love, her support. She is the reason I am, today, as confident as I am: when anyone tried to bring me down, I knew I could turn to my mother and -- even if she couldn't do anything to actually help -- the fact that she was there, unconditionally, was enough.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that we have very different taste in music. So I spent this weekend -- a crazy weekend, full of my mother's entire family coming together as my grandmother says her last goodbyes -- trying to pick a friggin' song. I'd have an idea -- a song she listened to as she came out of her grieving period! a song she loved when V and I were little! a song she and my dad adored! -- but when I thought about actually writing the post, the idea unraveled. No song was expressing what I needed to express about my mother.


Until, picking through her old tapes, I came across Songs From the Big Chair.
Ohhhh man. 80s New Wave: one of the few areas where my mother's music and mine intersect -- and that, I firmly believe, is because of her.
When my mom was pregnant with me, she listened to this album. Over and over. And over. And as I grew up, "Head Over Heels" kept reappearing in my life. Over and over. And over. And every time I heard it, it felt like I was being enveloped: safe, but also on the brink of something. And that, I think, is the most powerful thing my mother has given me: the ability to experiment, to test new waters, to take risks and fuck up -- spectacularly -- all while knowing that no matter how badly it goes -- I will have somewhere to turn. I will be supported.

But listening to this song again, tears in my throat, I realized something else my mother has given me --
the knowledge, the model, that nothing is worth settling for.
Unless you are head over fucking heels, you're wasting your time (or "just, just, just wasting time"!)
She modeled it with her relationship with my father. She modeled it with her art. She modeled it with how she treated my sister, myself, and the rest of our family. She modeled it in her work, in her personal time, and in her music: you do things passionately, or you don't do them at all.

I guess I always thought that part of me came from my father; I was wrong. It's been my mother all along, the quiet support allowing me to fight my battles my way, and simultaneously showing me that her fights -- in her own way -- are all head over heels.
And I love how Tears for Fears pulls this together, in a classic comes-off-as-a-love-song-but-isn't-really gem; I genuinely love this song and I genuinely love this line, especially (and ALWAYS have to BLAST it the first time it's sung):
"Something happens and I'm head over heels / I never find out till I'm head over heels"
I love that idea of something overtaking you, to the point where you are so far gone that you can't quite come back from it --- you aren't able to articulate what's going on until you already feel it in every cell, exploding; until you are twisted into and around yourself, made new.

I am head over heels, or I am nothing at all.
It is one of my favourite qualities about myself,
and more than I'd ever realized, I have my mother to thank.

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