Monday, May 17, 2010

Music Video Monday: Wilson Phillips



Today's music video comes in honour of the 19th anniversary of my Pass In Review ceremony at Navy Basic Training in Orlando, Florida. That was the day when our company officially "graduated" with the other companies in our training group. We marched in formation to the sounds of "Anchor's Aweigh / This Is My Country" medley (two songs that still fill me with pride to this day) in our Service Dress White uniforms (complete with white leggings that made us look pretty sharp). My family came down from Stone Mountain to see me graduate, so I was able to visit them briefly the night before during a visitor's reception. I also got to spend my uncontrolled liberty day with them (we went to Disneyland's The Magic Kingdom, though I really wanted to see the Epcot Center). That was an incredible day. The thing I never understood, though, is that after our Pass In Review ceremony (which is always on a Friday), we should be free to leave Basic Training. However, our training did not end until the following Thursday, which was our 8-3 Day (the Pass In Review Day was 7-4 Day).

The reason why I have selected Wilson Phillips' "The Dream is Still Alive" for this week's music video selection is because I first heard this song during my time at Basic Training, probably on the rare occasion when the galley played the radio during our meals. I was familiar with their other singles ("Hold On", "Release Me", "Impulsive", as well as the song "Eyes Like Twins") because they became popular with the debut album in 1990, at the end of my Senior Year. In fact, I had voted for "Hold On" to be our class song (by write-in, as I did not like the choices offered). Some other song won the vote for Best Song (that video will appear as a selection closer to the anniversary of my graduation date). In the summer of 1990, my family went to see Richard Marx in concert at the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park. Wilson Phillips was the opening act. They were pretty good, but I was never crazy about them as I was for Bananarama, the Bangles, or TLC.

Despite the hit parade of singles, I actually did not buy their debut album until the summer of 1991, when I was in Meridian, Mississippi for YN "A" School. Thus, to this day, whenever I listen to their album, I'm always transported back to that awesome summer of 1991 when I was living a new adventure in the Navy. "The Dream is Still Alive" is kind of the perfect "theme song" for my Basic Training experience. Some of the lyrics speak to what I experienced for those nearly nine weeks with my company: "Not so long ago, we were so in phase, you and I could never forget the days, but then the fire seemed to flicker, cold wind came and it carried us away but we'll get back some day..." and "Some got a little bit lost along the way but somehow we're here today, and we say the dream is still alive after all this time, the flame keeps on burning..."

In my Tales of Terror From Boot Camp Hell Journal (Volume XX), I wrote my own Top Ten list of the songs that remind me of my basic training experience. All but one of them was heard at least once during those nine weeks in Orlando, Florida. The one that wasn't heard was actually thought of and hummed by several guys in our company when a certain terrifying figure in a khaki uniform appeared.

#1) "The Dream is Still Alive" by Wilson Phillips.

#2) "More Than Words" by Extreme. Recruit Byars had received this cassette single from his girlfriend and it became the most requested song to be played by our company in our barracks at night.

#3) "Voices That Care" by Voices That Care. I had bought this cassette single at the Navy Exchange (it was a "We Are The World" type of single, featuring diverse musical artists in tribute to the military fighting in the Gulf War). A few of my companymates had requested to borrow the single and they always returned it misty-eyed. Who says that guys don't "cry"?

#4) "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks. This was popular with our company and RCPO Mackey in particular played and sang along to this song A LOT. It was the first country song that I truly loved and I became a huge Garth Brooks fan because of this (and other songs he made in the early 1990s).

#5) "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. This song played at the end of our ordeal on 1-5 Day. I had always loved this song, as it is incorporated into the popular music program of Stone Mountain's Laser Show every year, but the fact that it was played during our basic training experience to help bond our company after the intensity of 1-5 Day (which I had excerpted in an April post on this blog), only makes this song even more special to me. In fact, I would be very much in favour of changing our National Anthem from "The Star Spangled Banner" to "God Bless the USA" (though the atheists would seriously object).

#6) "I Want You to Want Me" by Cheap Trick. Though this song came out in 1979 when most of the company was in elementary school, when it played on the radio one evening, the whole company stopped what we were doing to sing along. It was an awesome moment of unity and generational connection.

#7) "Love Shack" by The B-52s. This song was preferred by the Company Commanders for our cycling exercises so we could keep up with the fast pace of the song. All CC Keenan had to do was merely threaten us with: "I'm just going to have to play 'Love Shack' I guess" to keep us in line. It often worked. No one wanted to cycle to this song!

#8) "Cry For Help" by Rick Astley. I first heard this song when it played in the galley.

#9) "I Don't Wanna Cry" by Mariah Carey. I also heard this song a few times in the galley on the rare occasions that they played the radio. The two "cry" songs seemed to speak to us...as we wanted to "cry for help" but didn't want to cry and show weakness to be exploited by the other guys.

#10) "The Imperial March" by John Williams. Though I did not hear this tune at all during my time in basic training, Albu and I in particular would hum this whenever we referred to CPO Atkinson, the Leading Chief Petty Officer of Division 8. To Albu and I, Atkinson was the terrifying Emperor to CPO Matthews' Darth Vader and this tune helped us put our experiences in the context of the Star Wars universe.

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