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Poetic Justice Vol. 1 – Reclamation

How ukulele cover songs and dubstep remixes could actually help you reclaim a part of your life.

21 Feb, 2013

Abhimanyu Meer


Each fortnight Poetic Justice will feature a story about the personal connections we have to the music we listen to. This week, an NH7 sub-editor tells you the story of why he’s hasn’t been able to listen to his favourite song in over a year, and how he’s making an attempt (a feeble one, admittedly) at reconnecting with it.

It’s hard to call those initial few days a courtship. I think it was more like a situation where I waited patiently (no) for her to call. And for some weird reason, she’d always call when I was in the climbing gym. The climbing gym was the only place I got any real exercise.

You’d think that when we got together for the first time at that party off Division St. with Marvin Gaye playing in the background, that the man would go on to hold some significance for me five years on.


Even James Brown managed to fade away into the background when we danced that night. The next song was shite, I remember well, and we had nothing to do but kinda just stand there awkwardly and shit. And then he was back with ‘Let’s Get It On’, and shit, how could I resist? From all the stolen glances and cheeky smiles of the week before, I think I’d made up my mind already. I’d leave that climbing gym any damn time to take two buses to buy a fifth of cheap vodka for her and Kaitlyn and Alyssa and her other underage friend.

Did I forget to mention that I came there that night with a date? I’m sorry, Alison.

One rather cold spring afternoon maybe a year on, we sat on her twin-sized bed. We sat on her bed a lot. While our three roommates played merry outside, talking, hitting the bong, making hemp butter and enchiladas, we nodded out to ‘Summertime Rolls’, sitting up against the wall, with our scarily similar feet hanging off the edge of the oversized mattress. And by then, I knew I’d made the right decision to make my mind up that day off Division.

Over the next few years, ‘Summertime Rolls’ (by Jane’s Addiction) acted as panacea to the gigantic maelstrom that came to be our relationship. We heard it together probably at least a few hundred times. It played itself (it really did) at many timely moments.

For instance, that one day by the mushroom farm in Lacey with those two parasites in the back seat, it came on to reinforce the notion that we still had a way out if we wanted to, that it could still go back to what it was in January of 2008. I remember a “day two” of one of our mammoth efforts to turn things around, laying down with her in the park across the street from our house, and the song played on her iPhone while she drifted off to sleep. I hadn’t seen anything that beautiful before, even though she was dying a slow, painful, spiritual death. Also, on that day on the way back from camping in the Cascades for Andy Cox’s birthday, when we had no money but we had a dry Olympia to cater to and the afternoon sun was poking its head up from behind the mountains. And then, that one time when the summertime was actually rolling away (and so were you, from me), and I sat at the Westside nursing my 7 and 7, wanting to leave Oly for good because she’d moved to the Bay Area to be with him. And as much as I’d like to think it made me sad then, it’s probably the only extra push I needed to call her that evening and convince her to pack up and drive home to me. You left that night. And about 18 hours later, you came home.


But now, things are messed up, and I haven’t listened to ‘Summertime Rolls’ in more than like, a year. In fact, the only time I ever get reacquainted with it is when I play its funereal bassline on my acoustic guitar and sing shabbily along, all the while thinking about the next time I’ll never whore my heart out to you. There isn’t even a decent fucking cover version of it on the Internet. Fuck that.

In a recent conversation with somebody about this exact subject, I tried to figure out a method by which this can become easier, a method through which somebody can reclaim his or her song with minimal risk of an overwhelmingly emotional meltdown. It goes like this.

Say your song is ‘Digital Love’ by Daft Punk, you go to YouTube’s search box and type “daft punk digital love ukulele cover”. Ukulele covers of songs are pretty lame and they’re everywhere. ‘Digital Love’ on ukulele is even lamer. It will recreate none of the sexed-up urgency you feel during the beginning bars of ‘Digital Love’, there’s no vocoder so you can’t pretend like the song’s coming from inside of you while you sing along with your mouth closed and your lips parted ever-so-slightly on one side, and there are definitely no orgasmic solos either. So, what you’re stuck with is basically looking at some wifebeater-clad Asian-American dude who actually took time out to transpose a great electronic love song for ukulele so he could get laid (or not). Yeah, it’s shit, but it’s better than listening to the original and crying like a baby (grow the fuck up already, yo).

Another great way to reacquaint yourself with “your” song is by looking for a glitch-hop or dubstep mix of it. I just did this right now with another deeply personal song, ‘Tonight, Tonight’, by the Smashing Pumpkins. It turns out, there was a remix. I tried listening through the whole song but I couldn’t because I guess I’m not ready just yet. However, one of the top comments was seemingly apt – “this is like taking a shit on the mona lisa.” It had 6 likes.

The above method can work with pretty much any song, provided it’s popular enough for some jerk-off to cover on ukulele or for a bedroom producer to make “phat”.

I’m pretty sure some of you have been in this situation before, and we’re inviting you to talk about it. Leave your comments below.

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