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Like most people, I have a few guilty pleasures. They include US Weekly, logic puzzles, champagne, French cheeses, and Cadbury eggs. I prefer to hide these pleasures flaws. And don’t worry. There are many more, including songs that I wouldn’t be caught dead listening to in front of another person. Or admitting that I know all the words. Ok, fine. That I sing them full-force in the car or in the shower or in my head when they play at the market. I just can’t help myself. It’s a problem.

Why don’t I admit that I have a relationship with these songs? Shame? Guilt? Teenage fear of rejection? Yes, yes, and yes. Sometimes my guilty pleasures are cool party tricks, like when I sing both parts of “You Don’t Bring me Flowers” by Neil and Babs. But they have to be kitsch enough. Rarely do my guilty pleasures in music have this kind of hutzpah.

“The Heart of the Matter” was originally a Don Henley classic that was released somewhere in the late 80s, early 90s. While my peers listened to Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine, I hid my Don Henley and Richard Marx between my Guns N’ Roses and Warrant. Perhaps they are ear worms or chronicles of my youth. Regardless, each of the songs today are guilty pleasures randomly enough. I know the words by heart. When they come on, every word and note and beat is exactly where it should be. I even harmonize. India.Arie’s jazz cover gives the song a little more cool factor. But let’s not lie. “I’m learning to live without you now, but I miss you babe”. How can you not find guilt in that?

I am ashamed by the Katy Perry because I of course know the original– “California Love” by Dr. Dre, 2Pac, and Snoop Dogg. But Katy makes me dance when I hear her song. I can actually run when it comes on. “Once you party with us, you’ll be falling in love.” Sadly, yes. But to be fair to me, Snoop endorses it too. So I guess it’s okay.

And as for old Hank Williams Jr. whom I think I admonished in one of my earlier posts, there’s something to a sad, crying-in-your-beer country classic. I know most of them. My life reflects nothing that these songs talk about ever, but like when the Cadbury eggs show up the day after Christmas in the market, I covet them, buy one, and pray that no one sees me slip it into my basket because they are gross, childish, and unattractive on the ass. Perhaps I need to remove the guilty from the term. Then it’s just pleasure. I remind myself that Robert Frost loved birch trees, and found a way to weave them into most of his agrarian poems. And really, as he says, “one could be something worse than a swinger of birches”. One could be something worse than a singer of smirches (def:an act that brings discredit to the person who does it).

The Heart of the Matter–India.Arie

It’s Only Love–The Beatles

London Calling–The Clash

Just Breathe–Pearl Jam

California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)–Katy Perry

Old Habits–Hank Williams Jr.

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