We’re only human after all: The healing power of Level 42

3 Jan

I'm just glad that the Gene Simmons one doesn't dispense blood ...

I’m just glad the Gene Simmons one doesn’t dispense blood …

Each Christmas, I am grateful that my family indulges me in my predilection for rock-related everything. On CD, I received both volumes of the Ann Peebles Hi Records collection, the Albert King/Stevie Ray Vaughn live sessions and Jeff Beck’s Truth, along with Foreverly, featuring the delightful duo of Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones covering the Everly Brothers. I also got the fantastic Johnny Cash biography as well as Tune In, the first of a well-received multi-volume history of the Beatles. And a couple other things (see photo).

I also got a trip to the emergency room and a three-night stay in the hospital. (That was not a gift from my family, unless you count genetics.) Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I had a gallstone removed via endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP is its kicky nickname), then laparoscopic surgery to take out my gall bladder.

I hadn’t been admitted to a hospital since my youngest was born nearly twelve years ago, and I hadn’t had surgery since my wisdom teeth were taken out twelve years before that. All the pre-op questions about whether I had bad reactions to anesthesia and if I had anything removable in my mouth were unsettling. Since I’d been taken in ahead of schedule I had no idea if my partner was in the waiting room. Even if she was, she wasn’t going to be able to see me until after the procedure several hours later. Still, I had full confidence in the medical team and that I would feel immediately better once the ERCP was done. All I had to do was wait my turn.


Lying on a stretcher in the pre-op unit, trying to keep my thoughts from migrating toward the morbid the closer I got to being intubated, I focused on the non-threatening classic rock music playing overhead and identified a personal connection to each song that came up:

  • “Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone. That was the song playing as I was wheeled into the pod – a great song for making a grand entrance!
  • “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Pat Benatar. As much as I made fun of her angry Bambi eye makeup in the Eighties, I was secretly jealous that I could never master her combination of highlight and contour to sculpt my own chipmunk cheeks.
  • “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” Journey. Ah, the guilty pleasure I analyzed in one of my first blog posts.

Then came a tune that reached out from the overhead speakers and held me in its arms: Level 42’s “Something About You.”

[The only version I could find of the original MTV video was insanely buggy so this will have to do instead … enjoy the fashion parade.]

For all its synthesizers and glossy production values, it’s an achingly beautiful depiction of a long-term relationship on the wane:

Now, how can it be
That a love carved out of caring
Fashioned by fate could suffer so hard
From the games played once too often
But making mistakes is a part of life’s imperfection
Born of the years
Is it so wrong to be human after all?

I know, a song about making mistakes is hardly a reassuring message for someone facing a medical procedure. Yet the fact that this song played when it did made me feel better immediately. It’s not on the radio much and it’s rarely included in Eighties compilations, but it’s an all-time favorite of mine and one of my first iTunes purchases. Listening to this bittersweet tune, in my hospital gown and fall-prevention footies, I felt like it was playing just for me, to keep me company and see me through. I wasn’t alone anymore.

I am glad to report that I’m home now and recovering well, thanks to the exceptional care team at the hospital and the loving attention of my family and friends … and the mystical power of a great song from a one-hit wonder. What a way to start the New Year!

See you on the flip side …

P.S. Did you get a new Kindle or iPad during the holidays? Start building your ebook library by downloading my new novel, Love and Other B-Sides, now available on Amazon!


4 Responses to “We’re only human after all: The healing power of Level 42”

  1. Roy Sexton (Reel Roy Reviews) January 3, 2014 at 1:01 am #

    hope you’re feeling better!!

    • lpon45 January 3, 2014 at 1:03 am #

      Thanks so much for checking in – I’m definitely on the mend!

  2. Pam Houghton January 3, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Sorry to hear about the gallstone – glad you are recovering well! I, too, loved the few hits from Level 42. Thanks for the reminder – I might have to download this tune onto my iPhone.

    • lpon45 January 3, 2014 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks for the good wishes – and happy to spark fond musical memories!

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