Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: A Soundtrack

Saturday, October 11, 2008

1.Our House- Madness
2.Lost!- Coldplay
3.Listen- Beyonce
4.Because of Your- Kelly Clarkson
5.I’m Yours- Jason Mraz
6.Beautiful- Christina Aguilera
7.No Rain- Blind Melon
8.Money, Money, Money- ABBA
9.Good People- Jack Johnson
10.You’re so Beautiful to Me- Ray Charles


Jenny L said...

In creating a soundtrack to go with David Sedaris’s Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I immediately knew that the songs chosen must have a light and humorous tone to it. Throughout his memoir, though he experiences hardships and road blocks, he is always able to incorporate his unique sense of humor within his short essays. I aimed to capture that same easy going attitude he uses towards the problems he faces in his life. However, finding songs conveying Sedaris’s tone throughout his memoir is not enough to capture, or even do justice to the experiences he has undergone from youth to adulthood. In his memoir he shows glimpses of his life, from his realization of his sexual orientation as a child, his acceptance of his own personal differences to his acknowledgement of who he really is. Therefore, I aimed not only to capture the certain tone he conveys with each essay in his memoir, but also to find songs with lyrics that relate to him personally.

I began my search for specific songs that relate to his memoir by first envisioning an image of Sedaris’s life as a musical. What song would play when he gets kicked out of his own house by his father because he is homosexual or what song will play that would accurately portray the rare occasion in which his entire family was happy together, were questions that I asked in order to truly capture each moment with a single song. The titles he used for each of his essays were very helpful in determining the right songs as well

The first song on the soundtrack, Our House, by Madness begins the CD off on a lighthearted mood capturing the carefree and untroubled times Sedaris and his family had once experienced. The song illustrates a happy family, which essentially was an adjective fitting to the Sedaris family at one point. Our House truly captures the moment in which the Sedaris family, with the children innocent and the parents still in love, travels on a road trip. Their road trip carries them to a cluster of beach houses that makes them each excitedly naming each one they encounter with hopes of one day owning one. In that moment they travel as one whole family, carefree, with no worries or troubles to intrude upon their picturesque moment of a happy family.

One of the low moments in Sedaris’s life was when he was jobless and living with his parents. In that moment, he not only leads a life that he is unsatisfied with but he truly questions his own identity. He questions who he is and that is why I chose the song Lost! by Coldplay to portray that time in his life. He is at a point of uncertainty in his life and is trying to figure out the direction his life should take.

Though I had originally planned to only include songs that convey a light hearted mood, I realize that as I looked more closely at each event and experience that Sedaris undergoes, though he uses humor to attack each one, there are also undertones of a more serious situation at hand. One of those moments that were not covered by his humor was the moment in which his father kicks him out of the house for, not because he is jobless and dependent on his family for support, but because he is a homosexual. For that moment, I selected the song Listen, because it was a moment in which Sedaris no longer feels suppressed by a need to hide who he is from his family. “It’s only [his] beginning to find release” because he is “not at home in his [own] home”. Throughout his childhood, he knows that he does not fit in with his father nor will he become the son that his father wishes him to be. In this moment, in which his father denies to accept his own son, he finally follows his own voice in releasing to his father who he is.

I find that the relationship Sedaris has had with his father, or rather the lack of one, has played a major role in his life. For that reason, I decided to find a song to capture the father-son relationship between the two Sedaris men. It is because of the expectations of his father for him to become the stereotypical son that leads me to choose the song Because of You. This song captures the relationship in that it shows the restrictions his father had inflicted upon him in his inability to accept that his son is a homosexual. Sedaris knows that he can never play the role his father expects him to and though at times he strives to fit in to his expectations, he ultimately learns that it is “because of [him] that [he’s] ashamed of his life.”

With two songs that capture the rather more serious parts of Sedaris’s life, I also wanted to show listeners his relationship with his partner. He dedicates his memoir to Hugh. In the song I’m Yours, Jason Mraz sings about the simplicity of love and it is reminiscent of the relationship between Sedaris and Hugh. Though some in society still objects to homosexual relationships, Sedaris feels that if you “open up your mind a see like [him]” you’ll be able to find that “love love love” is indiscriminate. Throughout his youth he has had an internal conflict in accepting his own sexual orientation, but in his adulthood, in which he has grown to embrace it, he realizes that love is simple, just as the song I’m Yours conveys: a straightforward declaration of love.

In reading his memoir, it is evident that his homosexuality, whether it is his realization of it, his acceptance of it, or his hardships because of it, has majorly impacted who he is. Therefore I find that the song, Beautiful is appropriate to go with Sedaris as well. The song sings of self-acceptance and realization that one is “beautiful, no matter what [people say].” In many ways, Sedaris’s memoir speaks of learning to love oneself, with one’s strengths as well as one’s imperfections.
One of the moments that stood out to me in Sedaris’s memoir was the experimentations of identity that he has undergone. As a young child, naïve, innocent, and uncertain as to who he is, Sedaris experiments with being a hippie. I decided on the song No Rain, as a result. This song relates to that genre in specific and also exuberates a playful and harmonious tone. He describes this stage in his life with humor and I find that Blind Melon’s No Rain is able to show the mood of Sedaris, where he does not know what direction to take his life.
One of the more humorous and light songs of the soundtrack, Abba’s Money, Money, Money perfectly captures Sedaris’s feelings towards his rich aunt in a chapter he entitles, Monie Changes Everything. He recognizes the power of money at a young age. With his family unable to pay for opportunities and trips he wants to venture one, his rich aunt supports him. He not only experiences the power of money but also experiences a social division that money creates.

For one of the chapters I find most humoring of Sedaris’s memoir, I chose Jack Johnson’s Good People to illustrate the scene. Sedaris writes of a moment in which he feels the pressure of being a homosexual in a society that is experiencing paranoia due to the scandals that involve homosexual pedophilia. Though he knows himself to be a good citizen and that he would never commit the crimes society seems to have labeled to homosexual men, he nonetheless feels the pressure of suspicion as he helps a young boy carry coffee. Though his act is simple and meant to be one of kindness, Sedaris describes to readers his incessant sweating and rapid heart beat for fear of being accused. Sedaris’s insecurities arise from the scrutiny society places on people that are different. I find that the song Good People truly captures both the mood and the tone of that particular incident in Sedaris’s life.

In choosing the last song for the soundtrack, I wanted to end it on the overall mood I tried to achieve with the soundtrack. I decided on Ray Charles’s You are so Beautiful to Me, to capture the moment in which Sedaris falls in love with Anne Frank’s house. On a desperate hunt to find the right location for him and Hugh, Sedaris believed the crowd around that famous monument to be a sign of an open house. Ironically, he soon discovers that the house is in fact not for sale. However before that discovery he is mesmorized by how fitting the house is for him. I decided on Ray Charles’s song to convey the “love at first sight” Sedaris experiences with the house.
With a bit of humor, a bit of solemnity, and even a bit of lightheartedness, the whole soundtrack was created to try to encompass all the moods, the experiences, and the events that Sedaris writes of in his humorous memoir.

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