Saturday, July 30, 2011

Top Ten: My Mental iPod

A quote from myself on this blog once:

"Shouldn't life, when lived to the fullest, have a soundtrack to go with it?"

Someone who reads this blog once asked me this:

"How much memory do you have on that mental iPod of yours?"

The answer: "Unlimited capacity."

Because it's true. There is no limit to what might get added to my mental iPod and absolutely no telling what is playing on it at a given time. That sucker is constantly on "shuffle."

I love my mental iPod. Usually I just close my eyes and hear the song in my head, but now what's extra cool is that since the invention of YouTube, I can actually hear the song I'm thinking of with the click of a mouse (instead of some reciprocating loop with eight bars of the wrong lyrics.)

Hold up.

I wouldn't necessarily call myself a music connoisseur or anything. In fact, my real iTunes library is pretty darn mediocre. Aaaahh, but my mental iTunes collection? Fuggeddaboudit. It's bangin'. And let me tell you--it's got something for every mood and everybody.

The thing with music and me is this--I don't limit myself to any genre. I simply like what I like. I just like listening to lyrics and melodies for meaning in them. Sometimes a song will remind me of a person. . . or a time. . . or an experience. Just like the sense of smell, the right song can put me exactly where I was at a particular time, and swing my pendulum from LOL-smiley faces all the way to boo-hoo crying in less than sixty four counts.

This week's top ten is dedicated to my mental iPod. Here are ten things from my "playlist" this week. . . . oh, and thanks to YouTube, my mental iPod now has video. Does that make it a mental iPad? Or a would it be an iPod Touch? Hmmmmm.

Anywho. Step inside my head why don't you?


#10 The Dave Matthews Band - The Space Between

My brother, Will, and younger sister, JoLai, could possibly be two of the biggest "DMB" fans ever. This makes me a Dave Matthews fan by genetic association, albeit not one of fanatical proportions. Anyways. I do love Dave M.'s throaty voice and amazing control of its inflections. I also love this particular song.

Here is a confession--in ninety percent of Dave Matthews' music, I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics mean. Now this could have everything to do with me and my questionable musical gene and nothing at all to do with him. However. From the moment I first heard this song, I got it.

The video is beautiful. The song even more beautiful. It's about unconditional love, redemption, and loving each other through everything. All of the things that are always in the "space between" us and the people we love.

#9 Positive K - I Got A Man

I was at my sister's birthday party in L.A. last week and ran into someone that I hadn't seen in forever--a guy I knew from elementary and middle school. Anyways, I "OMG"'d and gave him a big hug when I saw him because it was a total blast from the past. Right after that, this woman steps in front of me in the most exaggerated way ever, puts her hand out to me and says, "Uuuuuhhh, hello. I'm MRS. Dude-from-elementary-school."

I looked at her like, You cannot be serious. 0_o

From that point forward, every time I saw her walking around the party I wanted to say, "I GOT A MAN!"

And yes. I would be remiss if I did not point out two things. The first is that my fellow Grady doctor, Neil W., loves this song and sings it often (even in 2011.) The second is that technically the context of the song is a dude hitting on women who have boyfriends, and not crazy-ish women who don't want you hugging on their husbands that you haven't seen since sixth grade. . . . .but so what.

"I'm MRS. Dude-that-you-haven't-seen-since-fifth-grade!"


Um, yeah. . . whatev.

# 8 Sting -- Sister Moon

There's this funny thing about blogging. People come and "visit" you and then you return the favor. After a while, you look up and you have this collection of porches that you feel welcomed to come and sit on even though you technically don't "know" each other to be sitting on each others' porches.

One of my favorite porches belongs to Ms. Moon, the author of a blog called Bless Our Hearts. Ms. Moon writes about anything and everything. She's spunky, opinionated, fiercely loyal to her loved ones, and honestly? Just a whole bunch of fun. She drops f-bombs whenever and wherever she damn well pleases and keeps it real-er than real.

I love her blog because we have nothing in common yet everything in common. I'm a black woman with young kids and she's a white woman with a grandson and adult children. I'm a faithful member of a Christian church who prays regularly and she's the high priestess of the (her quote) "Church of the Batshit Crazy" who describes herself as "not religious at all." I have anything but a green thumb and am terrified of just about anything that isn't a well-behaved human or a highly domesticated pet. She, on the other hand, could whip up a Sunday supper with the weeds in your back yard and the dandelions popping out around your mailbox. . .and one day she went LOOKING for what she thought was a mouse in a closet. (Awww HELLL Naaww!)


We both love our husbands and think they hung the moon. We celebrate our families and friends so much it's nauseating--and we don't care. We both hate injustice and can laugh out loud at ourselves and our quirks. We both love us some good music and know exactly how to savor the perfection of the most ordinary time spent with extraordinary people. We respect people and take interest in who they are--even when the "who they are" is incredibly different than who we are, which is pretty cool. And. She makes Key Lime Pie and I love Key Lime Pie -- which means she is welcome on my porch any time.


Now that our blogs have intersected and made us "friends"--I have taken the liberty of calling Ms. Moon "Sister Moon." Kind of a convoluted way to get to why this song has been on my mental iPod, I know. So, yeah. When I read her blog, I hear this song. Not because of any deep lyric in it or anything. It's simply because I really like that song and it makes me happy when I hear it. Kind of like I feel when I'm hanging out on Sister Moon's porch.

And that's just one porch. (Some of my other favorite ones can be found to your right.)

#7 Mariah Carey -- Always Be My Baby

Zachary and I always sing this song together. All the time, ever since he was on my hip. Even though Mariah Carey has the Grammys and that crazy range, he tells me that he likes when I sing it better than "the real one." Imagine that. Let's be clear--I cannot sing. At all. But isn't it beautiful that he thinks that? And isn't it beautiful that I sing anyway?

Most of you already know from this blog that the kids recently spent a month in Los Angeles with my dad at "Camp Papa." When I finally saw them again, they looked so much bigger. But especially Zachary. His language was clearer and his toddler belly had virtually disappeared altogether. He hugged me in a "big boy" way instead of leaping into my arms in that "baby boy" way. I picked him up any way and felt sad when I caught a glimpse of how long his legs were against my body in a nearby mirror. He's not a baby anymore.

"You're not a baby any more!" I said with a playful (yet serious) pout. "What happen to Mommy's baby?"

Do you know what he said? Do you? Sigh. He grabbed my face with both hands and smiled in that Zachary way. . . .and started singing to me. . .

"You'll always be a part'a meeeee! I'm parta you a-defana-leeeee! No way ya eva gonna shake me! Oooo darlin' 'cause I'll always be ya babeeeeeeee!"

Then he kissed me and hugged me hard.

Yes. He will always be my baby.

#6 Gospel Music

I love gospel music. It uplifts me, it inspires me, and it speaks to me on so many levels. Part of me believes that that the souls of black folks past and present can always be found inside of gospel music. The creativity of it, the longing in it, the celebration in it, and the history behind it makes me so proud of where I came from.

Every single day when I am at Grady or driving near Grady, I hear a voice wailing these words out in my head:

"It could've been me
Outdoors with no food and no clothes
All left alone without a friend
Or just another number with a tragic end. . ."

I love this totally impromptu rendition of Walter Hawkins' classic "Thank You."

Gospel music. Isn't it wonderfully spontaneous? It's almost like the very best songs involve "freestyles" and ad libs that can only be found in this genre.

And what's cool about sho nuff gospel music? Regardless of who you are and what you do or don't believe, you can't help but feel moved by it when you hear it.

I especially love this song -- "This is the Day" as performed by Fred Hammond. I hear this version of this gospel song in my head at some point every single day. Sometimes I will play it on my real iPod, but mostly I play it on my mental one. My favorite part is the break that says:

"When I look back over all the years that I made it through
I can't imagine where I'd be now, if it wasn't for You. . ."

No matter what is going on with me, this song can put it all into perspective. In fact, most gospel music does that for me.

#5 -- Special Ed -- I Got It Made

This is one of those songs that was insanely popular in my freshman year of college. I'm not sure if it was as "insanely popular" wherever you were in 1989, but let me tell you--anyone who attended a historically black college between the years of 1988 and 1990 can recite the majority of the lyrics to this song.

Case in point: Harry and I were cleaning up one day and he had the TV on some kind of hip hop video channel. We were in the middle of what I recall to be a fairly deep conversation . . . .that is until this song came on. Dude. We sang E-VER-Y word. We pointed in each others' faces, did our very best Bobby Brown old-school dance moves, and mean-mugged one another while laughing our heads off. There were probably six or seven words that we didn't know--that's it.

Damn, it was romantic. Sigh.

#4 AC/DC -- Back in Black

I feel automatically "bad ass" when playing this on my mental iPod. You should try listening to this before doing anything you're nervous about. It totally does the trick and gives you all kinds of chutzpah.

A black lady rocking out to AC/DC, you say?

Look--I don't care who you are. This is just the jam. If you can sit still while listening to this, you are either dead or just completely lame. (You should see my kids when they hear it.)

Nuff said.

#3 Rock Steady -- Aretha Franklin, The Whispers, and No Doubt

All three of these versions played on my mental iPod this week. Aretha's version gets top billing because it's one of my anthems. The Whispers version is just soulful and makes me think of all of the groups from that era like The O'jays and Lakeside. No Doubt's version is just crazysexycool, and reminds me of how I pretty much wanted to be Gwen Stefani back when the song was in radio rotation. (Okay, I DO still get way too hyped and I admit that I not-so-secretly morph into Gwen every time I hear "I'm Just a Girl.")

That's really me and my co-interns when I lived in Cleveland and didn't get much sun.

No Doubt's version also reminds me a lot of how I feel about being with Harry. Rock steady, man.

But still. Aretha's version wins.

#2 James Taylor -- Anything and everything.

But this one is my absolute favorite of all time. I sing this song with my kids just about every single night. Kind of morose. . . but hauntingly beautiful to me. Especially from the mouths of babes. . . .

Good heavens, I love this song. For so many reasons. . . .but mostly because it reminds me of love.

#1 Jill Scott -- Golden

"I be high-steppin', y'all. . . . .letting the joy unfold. . . .I'm living my life like it's golden. . ."

This is song is my personal anthem. I hear it in my head constantly. I can barely even watch the video without crying . . . hard. I'm not really sure why that is either. Something about her confidence as she sings it, her genuine smile, the way she looks at people so lovingly. . . . like she knows something. . . .and then her voice, the upbeat tempo. . . . all of it together. . . moves me in the deepest parts of my soul. Every word. Almost like she penned that song just for me. Listen to this song and you will get me. . . .you really will.

Especially the line that says

"I'm strumming my own freedom playing the God in me
Representing his glory hope he's proud of me. . . "

Because that describes me. It does. How I feel, who I want to be, who I try to be. . .as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, as a physician, as an educator and as a human being. I want to live my life like it's golden. I really, really do.

Hmmm. So I guess now I do understand why hearing those lines makes me cry. Perhaps the tears are a sign of a good anthem.

"I'm living my life like it's golden . .
It really matters to me. . . ."

Hope your life is golden, too.

Now. Think about your mental iPod this week and let it inspire you. Add some new jams to it and don't be afraid of trying something new or really old. . . . .and stop back by my porch and let me know what you're rocking out to. Because I really do want to know.

Happy Saturday Night.


  1. Oh my your Zachary is so precious!

    And I feel the same way about Ms. Moon and her porch.

    Now I'm going to go listen to some Jill Scott ...

  2. Oh, I finally got to hear Golden and it's awesome! Can't believe I never heard it before. Thanks for posting it!

  3. Well, I needed that this morning. I can't tell you how much. I'm having a hard re-entry, wondering what in hell my life is about and you reminded me and I love you.
    Thanks, Sister.

  4. This morning I feel grateful for computers and the internet and html and blogger and for your gift and motivation to write.

    Without these things, Dr. Kimberly Manning would not exist in my world today, and how much poorer my world would have been for it!

  5. To say, "I love your porch," does not sound quite right. But I do.

  6. Loving 'Golden'. Been on MY mental iPod all day. :) Totally sums you up.

  7. Love love love the gospel video. I love "Jesus showed up and showed out!" haha amen! There is no medicine for the soul like a good praise/gospel session. I might need to go get my praise on myself today :)

  8. "I'm talented, yes I'm gifted..."

    Dang, where is Special Ed????


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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