Toussaint McCall (and Various): Hairspray Soundtrack

Song: “Nothing Takes The Place Of You

I’m supposed to be writing something else right now, but this song started playing and completely pulled me away. Any song from the Hairspray soundtrack — and by that I mean the movie that inspired the Broadway musical that inspired a movie I plan on never seeing — always makes me stop for a second. The songs aren’t the kind I listen to normally, but they are immediate mood changers.

This is the case with every John Waters soundtrack I have. And yes, I have a few.


He’s very good at picking music. I have purchased the Cry-Baby soundtrack no less than three times in my life, and it’s another one filled with irresistible songs. Even the ones written for the movie. And yes, I know they’re very silly songs. But they remind me of my sister, and there’s no other collection of songs that links me to my sibling like this one.

There are fires breaking out in Los Angeles right now because it’s that time of year, but I’m wondering exactly what day will I not know people who are having to evacuate. It’s been a hell of a month for people leaving their homes, wondering what will happen when they return. I’m on my porch right now, working on an essay that’s due in a matter of hours, but there’s a fire in the Burbank mountains and the smell of smoke is strong enough in my house that it constantly pulls my focus. The combination of sad songs with the smell of fires growing closer made it so that I had to stop. But I can’t stop these days. Too many deadlines. Too much writing to do. So I somehow take a break here, because this is where I can go to let the words come out when there’s no real focus. Here, on the side music blog, where I’m guessing about a third of you ever even venture. I know; it’s weird. The archives are only here? What’s going on?

And it’s weird, because while I’ve been writing, the iPod’s been changing songs, and I’d love to write about the songs that have played since I started this entry — the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “My Lovely Man” or Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love“, or right now, when “Try a Little Tenderness” just started. How can you not write about that song, and how it goes right to the core of you, reminding you of both the best and worst parts of love, in addition to Ducky dancing around a record shop for the girl he doesn’t think he’ll ever get to be with? And now, while I looked up the links to those songs, “Someday We’ll Be Together” started up. When my iPod goes crazy with the good songs, and isn’t stuck on a weird rap-skit/iTrip station/David Sedaris reading/Bill Hicks clip mix, it’s very difficult to keep from getting distracted. I want to run here with every song and tell you why these matter to me. But I can’t. I’m supposed to be working on this other thing. It’s due really soon! I shouldn’t be here talking about music with you. Why can’t I just hit “send” and move on?

Because it’s a weird world when you’re driving through smoke, past fire, hearing about evacuations and it doesn’t matter because your essay’s due or your script’s due or your agent’s on the phone. My cousin is in my time zone. This never happens. And I can’t see him. Not his fault, not mine. But all I want to do is get in my car and drive until I see him. (iPod is now playing “Ain’t No Sunshine“. No time to talk about this one. Just have hear it, acknowledge it, and go back to fucking work. Right? I mean, it’s one in the morning. This is when I’m supposed to be working on everything I’m supposed to be working on when I’m not working.)

See what happens when you drop in on me on a weird break from a three-thousand word essay on my sex life? I’m supposed to be writing about something pretty important and captivating, but again I smell smoke and my iPod is begging me to sit back and listen to the songs. Part of me thought I’d just write here until a crap song started, and that would knock me back into reality. But what’s playing now? “Every Little Thing.”

And since this entire entry has stopped being about John Waters, which I thought I was going to write about, or “Nothing Takes the Place of You,” which brought me here in the first place with its sad, sad song, I might as well finish painting the picture of me, right now. I’m sipping the last of a bottle of Chandon (because it’s Snoop approved), which I bought this week to celebrate my first episode. I bought three bottles, but we only got to sneak two in before we had to go back to the taping. And while we all sipped champagne from paper coffee cups, in the near dark, hidden between sets, someone said, “I’m so happy to see Pam on the floor, pouring contraband booze into paper cups to celebrate her first script.” Normally we do it in the writer’s room, with a modicum of class. But if I’m going to pass out a champagne toast, it only made sense to do it like we were getting away with cutting class. “I wish I had my camera,” someone said. “Dude, pack me another bowl! I hope my parents don’t come home before the party’s over.”

So tonight I’m finishing that bottle to celebrate my first episode. I’m proud of it, and I have a script filled with the signatures of my co-workers like a high school yearbook. It makes me smile every time I see it.

But this was an entry about my iPod playing sad songs that keep me from working. The champagne is trying to cheer me up. Come on, iPod. What you got next? Bring it on.

Ah.

Princess Superstar is now rapping “Wet! Wet! Wet!,” which is pretty good exit music. Back to the sex story. Thanks for eavesdropping on my procrastination. And here’s hoping my iPod finds a trance song for about another hour.