This week, I found a song with my name in it. This was a big deal.
When I graduated college, I took a nickname. The previous four years had been so demanding and difficult, I wanted to feel as though I had started over as a new person. I went through our family records (we’re of Swiss descent, and no one keeps records like a Swiss alderman) and found a great-great-aunt who was named Maria Luisa but called Lili.
Lili. I liked that. It shared enough letters with my real name that I could pretend it was a real nickname. I also liked the sound of it, halfway between Lily and Leelee. I met a Swiss man not long after who was amazed I was born in the US because I had a name like mine. Since then, I’ve moved continents and met people from all over the world; unless they’re French or Swiss, they all find Lili a very unusual name. It fits me better than my “real” name, I think, although I’m not sure why. Names are funny like that; they have a lot of power.
So imagine my delight when I idly Googled for a song containing “Lili” and found (alongside all the Nazi war ditties) this:
AaRON (the letters stand for Artificial Animals Riding On Neverland) wrote “U Turn (Lili)” for a film called Je vais bien, ne t’en fais pas (I’m Fine, Don’t Worry). I LOVE THIS SONG. Even though it’s really depressing and I’m pretty sure it’s about drug addiction. I love it. I love the strings and the guitar and the old-timey microphone that hot guy is singing into. I love the English lyrics that occasionally don’t quite work grammatically. Mostly I love the slow beat of the piano against the vocals, and the way the singer gets up and dances during the bridge, trying to drive a little wedge of hope into the sadness.
Of course, I should mention that I also have a song for my birth name. I was christened Allison, and my fifth-grade science teacher always used to greet me in the halls with the chorus from this:
I didn’t actually hear the Elvis Costello recording of this until I was about 16, and I don’t think of the real studio version when I think of this song. Just my science teacher, singing that one word.
What are your name songs? Are they about your real name, or a nickname? Let us know in the comments.