Thanking Fate

"If the feeling drops out of your voice, would you kindly pick it up?" ~Live

These lyrics made their way into my inbox on Halloween in 2001, and even though I had seen and heard them so many times before, it was this once that they made a deeper impression. That's because those words were the first ones I would ever see from my future bride, not that I knew it at the time. All I knew was that these were my favorite lyrics as well, and that absolutely no one else who had entered the song lyrics survey had quoted them as theirs. So it stood out enough to make me sit up, to force me to click the "reply" button and answer straightaway the person who dared have the same favorite lyrics as I did. It was the first and last time I would reply to a survey that made its way into my inbox with a personal response. "You won't believe this," I said. "But you are the only person who has sent me my own favorite lyrics. Are you me?" And she wasn't, but that's okay. I wouldn't have wanted to marry me anyway.

To be honest, what made the whole thing more compelling was that the survey was for the top two favorite lyrics from the band, and her second choice was also mine. That's what really put it over the top and forced me to hit reply. But for you to get the full effect I need to back up a little bit...

The year was 1995, and I was pretending to be in school while instead spending all of my time in the campus computer lab. I split my screen time between hacking into an IRC client (internet relay chat) and finding internet mailing lists to join. At one point I was a member of over 100 mailing lists, but I really only maintained contact and readership with three of them. One was for the band Genesis, another was for U2, and the third happened to be the Live mailing list. It helped that Live was also from Pennsylvania, so I felt the local connection, and I had been to a ton of their concerts by the time I saw their mailing list address in an issue of Rolling Stone. So I signed up.

It was that same spring of '95 when I effectively quit college, so my time was all my own, and spending it in the computer lab meant becoming highly active on all three of my favorite mailing lists, but the one I posted the most on was the Live one (Straight Outta York -- or SOY for short). I began making sure I had a few posts in each issue of the mailing list, so after a while I became one of the "popular posters," which was internet speak for semi-famous in a small subsection of the web. With the band on the road that summer, too, it was easy to keep up my profile as I went to quite a few concerts on their schedule and I posted about every single one of them. As the years passed, and the band lost its fame, the members of the fan club changed, but I continued my tradition of surveys every few months.

Which brings us to 2001, and the other side of the equation, when my other half discovered SOY after a concert of her own. Live was traveling with the Counting Crows, and she saw them on the tour, actually meeting the band after the show. Soon after she joined the mailing list right in time for another one of my semi-famous lyric surveys. She almost didn't even write in her votes, thinking that the time had passed for entering, but on a whim she did it anyway, just in case. She certainly hadn't expected a response from me, just perhaps an automatic response thanking her for submitting her favorite lyrics. So I surprised both of us by sending an honest to goodness email, and she surprised me by responding.

When people ask us how we met, we say it was because of the internet, but we quickly clarify that it wasn't, or eharmony, or any others of the dating website ilk. We are sure to tell the lyric story, which still amazes me because of all the years I held those surveys, she remained the only one to ever have the same two favorites lyrics as me. But that's not where the coincidences end when it comes to us. Two years later, when we decided we were going to get married, and we settled on a date a few months ahead, little did we know that the new Live album would be released the same day. So, on our wedding day, on our way to City Hall to get married, we stopped by Target and picked up the new CD. We listened to it on repeat the entire way from Utica to Boston, singing along by the third time the songs came around again.

This time of year, as I think back to that trip, and even further back to that first email, I listen to Live more. I listen to the song that those lyrics came from. I listen to the album that was released on our wedding day. I listen to the words, I remember the beginning of life as I know it, and I thank fate for such a gift.

"This is how I'll go out tonight, dressed in blue, by the book tonight. This is how I'll go out tonight, but I don't need a book."

Sam McManus, Music Blogger

In the Tape Deck: