2004: “Mr. Brightside” (The Killers, Hot Fuss)
I’ve known this song has been lurking near the end of the countdown since I began it. For a while, I wasn’t sure I wanted to include it, not because of its quality, but because of its significance. I went back and forth, but finally settled on going ahead with it, because, well, it says up there “A Life in 44 Movements,” and life isn’t always easy.
See, this was our song.
It was our second actual date, and I’d thrown together some songs for her on a disc that I was going to give to her at the end of the night. It was meant to be an introduction to the weird and frightening world of my musical tastes. I figured it was best to show her right up front what she was getting herself into, and so what if it was a little cliché. So I pored over my mp3s in the best High Fidelity style and came up with a mix that I thought was just the right blend of the familiar and the frightening. And wanting something from the current decade so as not to appear completely out of touch, I threw in “Mr. Brightside.” Cut to the date, and we were walking around Barnes & Noble killing some time before dinner, when what should come on the store’s music loop but “Mr. Brightside.” She stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh I love this song!” I agreed, while inside I was giving myself copious high fives for my musical foresight. It felt like whatever cosmic force you choose to believe in was saying, “You two? Yeah.” And the song became something of a theme for us. I made it her ringtone on my phone, and it never failed to bring a smile when either of us heard it.
Needless to say, there came a time when the song was a little hard to listen to, since it was a reminder of a beginning amid an ending. I kept it as her ringtone though, at least for a while; it was nice to have some kind of reminder of better times, even if it was something fairly small. And over time, I’ve come to be able to listen to the song just as a song. The meaning is still there, hovering just out of earshot; I just make sure I don’t dwell on it. Besides, it stands more as a reminder of the good than the bad. And maybe that’s the only way I can still bear hearing it.
‘Cause I’m Mr. Brightside.