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Just another day
Small joys, big feelings and Jon Secada
I’d been craving candy. For my heart. Familiar sweetness, comfort. I wanted to feel soothed by what I already know, you know? (This, I’ve read, is why we turn back to the same songs, and movies, and shows, knowing what happens, time and again. It is probably also why I prodigiously read spoilers on the internet, even for movies I’ll never watch. I like to know what happens.)
In this case, I was cooking dinner and after love songs from a precise era, when I was old enough to understand longing, but not quite at the point where every aesthetic choice was an identity experiment. So like, 9.
I started with Why by Annie Lennox and let the algorithm do the rest.
It didn’t take long to get to Jon Secada’s 1991 crossover barn burner of a heartbreak anthem, Just Another Day. The Spanish-language original (appropriately called The Full Secada by my girl Jaime, a genius) absolutely goes.
Friends, this track fucks. In two languages.
The music video is an iconic entry into the august canon of Boys Feeling Big Feelings By The Beach.
It features 1991 Jon Secada in wet white linen, muscle tees, and sometimes leather (in the rain). He is interspersed with ethereal clips of cold, beautiful women, looking cold, and very beautiful. Gloria Estefan is there. I love it.
I love it and I’ve watched it many times this past week.
But not as many times as I’ve watched this live performance on Leno. Click the button. I’ll wait.
I should have said, maybe, the quality sucks. This was ripped from a VHS recording taken from a 1992 TV. (Shout out to being alive and having a TV in the early 90s. Being 30+ years old is dope as hell.)
Tape quality aside, get with this. The voice. Those eyes. THAT BASSIST. The back-up singers. That high note at 3:08. Everyone on this stage left it all out on it that night. Can you imagine, being in a live studio audience to listen to Jay Leno, only to be punched in the gut with this absolute feast of a performance?
A fun game I like to play with songs I’m not sure if I like: If I were sitting at a bar, and a live band started playing this, would I be stoked or what? Almost always the answer is yes.
Yes because making and playing music is hard, and sharing what we create is an act of love and courage and generosity.
Yes because booze tends to lower our defenses and dull the sharp edge of our more tedious snobberies.
Yes because I am generally stoked on shit. Especially music in bars.
Just Another Day is not a song I’m not sure if I like. The second it shuffled randomly back into my life the other night after over 25 years of absence, I was beside myself with heart memory. I love this track. This track is raw, unabashed feeling, which sings through even more powerfully in this live performance than in the studio versions, which are perfect, and big, and beautiful.
I love the rapturous and thundering applause at the end. I like to think of those people, sitting there close together, marveling at what they just lived through and having nothing more to offer than the stinging ache of their palms crashing into each other fast and furious, and for a brave few, their loudest woo. (If it’s ever legal to go to concerts again, I plan to lose my voice at every one, making each of my woos the loudest one yet.)
I don’t believe in guilty pleasure. We live in a world hellbent on denying us dignity, and joy, and power, and community. To cherish and insist on our pleasure—genuine, brain-cooling, body-buttering and life-affirming pleasure—is an act of celebration. Even revolution. I have plenty of inherited shame to work my way through. I don’t need to assign guilt to my pleasure.
This song has been a balm through a difficult week. Not difficult for any particular reason, other than living through a pandemic that has robbed me of my single greatest pleasure: the presence and company of the people I love. That and the unending snow, the grey days, the apathy and cruelty of the people elected to lead us beyond this living hell… standard stuff. Nothing major. It just got on top of me this week.
And then the sweet light of a song I once loved, and love still, came streaming in. We take our joy where we find it.
I hope you take yours too.
Boys Feeling Big Feelings By The Beach: A Brief but Emotional Playlist
This collection was inspired and instigated by Dylan Bryne, who first opened my eyes to this very specific, highly sensual genre. ilu bb.
Jon Secada - Otro Día Más Sin Verte
The reason for the season. Keep an eye out for Gloria.
Christ Isaak - Wicked Game
Formative. Helena did what had to be done.
Coldplay - Yellow
For a wholesome time, treat yourself to the comments on this one.
Erasure - Ship of Fools
Boys II Men - Water Runs Dry
The desert can be the ocean. I’ll explain why later.
Bad Bunny x Rosalía - La Noche de Anoche
There’s a song, there, in the room with you, right now.
Maybe you cannot hear it yet. But you love it. It will fill you up.