Tuesday, June 03, 2008

#6 - Hallelujah! We've Got a Friend in Jenna!

If you've ever taken time to glance at my MySpace page you've no doubt seen a number of comments containing images like this:

These images - lifted from icanhascheeseburger.com - are routinely sent by my friend Jenna McDaniel, whom I met a coupla summers ago when I first started working for Barnes & Noble.

At first our conversation was basically centered around really predictable topics: stupid customers, my lame jokes about how "Jenna" is the name of one of my favorite actresses, etc. But then one night a literally miraculous thing happened...Everyone was straightening shelves at the end of the evening , and, as always, I volunteered to serenade my co-workers against their will. It started off with a Tool song, then "Tiny Dancer" (by request), and then I launched off into Rufus Wainwright's version of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. From the next aisle, Jenna actually SHRIEKED the words "I LOVE that song!!" Then (a hallmark of her conversational style) she reiterated the point by saying, "No, you don't understand. I'm IN LOVE WITH THAT SONG!"...And suddenly there were TWO of us serenading our co-workers against their will.

It's something that Jenna and I both understand. "Hallelujah" is not a song, it's an event. And whenever you get a group of people together who all know the words, it's damn near a religious experience. The secret to its strange beauty and power (Jenna and I have discussed this at great length) is that it's never really what you think it is. Whenever you hear "Hallelujah" in movies or on TV shows, it's usually played during sad scenes. But if you listen to the words, it's not really all that sad. Some people think of it as a love song, but that doesn't really get it right either. The way I see it, "Hallelujah" is a song about embracing every aspect of life: joy, bewilderment, doubt, passion, loneliness, success, failure, loss, redemption -- whatever it is, Hallelujah. At least you were alive to experience it. Leonard Cohen himself described it like this: "It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion... It's a rather joyous song."

If your faith is strong, but you need some proof, check out this version of "Hallelujah" by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I fully expect this song to be played at my wedding, the births of my children, my Nobel Prize reception, the day I make my first million, my divorce proceedings, my release from jail, the day my youngest child turns 18 (no more child support), the day I get to the top of Mount Everest, and my funeral.

There are other songs in the Jenna/J Songbook of course (Jennifer Paige's "Crush" is an extremely guilty pleasure), but "Hallelujah" is the real glue holding this pinata together. Last August, we briefly worked together at the Beau Rivage (our discovery of one another in the employee dining area was quite possibly the most sorority-girl moment of my life). I was only there for three weeks, but I can remember at least 5 occasions when I received intra-office envelopes (marked URGENT), only to open them and find pieces of paper where Jenna had written phrases like "Remember, J., love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah." :)

It's strange the things a friendship can be built on. Some people need a lot of time to find their common ground. For me and Jenna, it all started with a song ---- not to mention emo kids and the phrase "SOO FUNNNNY!!" :)

Keep it real, Jenna.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

J, you can't forget sushi and Captain Emo. I still catch myself saying, 'SOO Funnnnyyy!" and I can't help but to smile.

10:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home