Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 13

My Three Songs with Karen Frasier-Kolligs

 

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Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE THIRTEEN – My Three Songs with Karen Frasier-Kolligs:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode Thirteen. This is the third in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest.

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Three Songs

  1. Melt With You – Modern English (1982)
  2. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) – Stevie Wonder (1972)
  3. Throw Your Arms Around Me – Luka Bloom (1984)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show ... with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 13. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guests, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is fellow Berkeleyan, Karen Fraser-Kolligs. Hi, Karen, how are you?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Hi, Aaron. I'm pretty good today.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, good. Yeah. Is Berkeleyan the right word? Is that as that describe us? Yeah,

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

You know, I actually was having this debate with somebody recently about whether it was Berkeleyan or Berkeleyite. My preference is Berkeleyan. Somehow it just sounds smoother to me.

Aaron Gobler:

And so, you know, I've been in Berkeley now or in this area for 22 years, and gotten to know you through various connections. How long have you been in Berkeley?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Gosh, about that same amount of time we moved to Berkeley from San Francisco. In 1998. That's now? 23 years?

Aaron Gobler:

Yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I've often said you, one becomes a native Californian after you've lived here about 10 years.

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Well, I am a native California. Angeles actually moved to San Francisco in the early in the early 80s. So but I feel like I do feel like a native more like a native Bay Area-en San Franciscan, or Berkeleyen or something now, but I've spent a lot the first part of my life in Los Angeles.

Aaron Gobler:

Gotcha. Oh, that that is a distinction. There are plenty of native Californians. But it seems like there's more people who are not. Yeah. So yeah. Karen, I want to thank you for being on My Three Songs. You're officially the third guest on this show. And I think I think I'll stop counting after you. I feel like maybe I'm on a roll at this point. And, and I want to thank you again for for joining me. I'm curious, what made you decide to be on the show?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Well, when you first posted that you were going to try this format, I thought oh, that sounds really interesting. And and then started thinking about what would my answer be? Because as I think, you know, it is really hard to pick three songs. And, and I kept every time I kept sort of thinking about it, every time you would have a I would see a post on Facebook, I would think I wonder what songs I would choose. The first song we're going to do is always the top of my list, but I always wonder what are the other songs going to be? And this time when I saw I guess it was just yesterday that I saw that you didn't have guest yet for this week, I thought okay, my time has come I need to do something. So that was why I decided to give it a try.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, thanks. Thanks again for for stepping up to the plate. So before we get started, can you tell me something about how music fits into your life? Like? Is it a key part of your normal day? Or is it mostly in the background? Or like do you listen to music on a whim?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Um, you know, that's a really interesting question. And that's something that has changed depending on you know, when in my life we're talking about, I used to be one of those people who always had music going always in the background. I mean, I don't know if that's typical teenager and college age behavior or what but but music was, I had a soundtrack to my life and music was always going on, I guess I would say. And more recently, I feel like the soundtrack to my life was all of the noise that my kids made. And now that they're adults, and no longer in the house, I've started I don't know, reclaiming my soundscape or whatever you want to call. And that I do find for the most part, because both my husband and I are working at home full time right now, I don't usually play music while I'm working these days because we don't have quite as we aren't quite soundproofed enough from each other and we spend most of our days on conference calls. But I so mostly these days, I listened to music in the car and living in Berkeley. I'm not spending a lot of time in the car, but enough to get a fix and just pre pandemic. I had decided that I wanted to, I don't know, get back to my roots or something and start seeing more live music. And I was just starting to go to live shows and things when a small venue kind of live show. It's not big stadium concerts when the Shelter in Place hit. I mean, in fact, I saw two concerts a week before that and had tickets to a couple of concerts that were cancelled immediately after we started the shelter in place.

Aaron Gobler:

Karen, you selected three great songs, I'm going to rattle off the titles and artists. And then we'll then we'll listen to each song, and we'll talk about it a bit. So your songs were, "I Melt with You" by Modern English from 1982. And then, a song with a very long title, which I'll read, "I Believe When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever" by Stevie Wonder from 1972. And "Throw Your Arms Around Me", performed by Luka Bloom from 2000. So, this is an interesting set. And then each song is of a different genre and energy level. I'm eager to hear your stories about them. First, we'll take a listen to "I Melt with You" by Modern English. Now, Karen, this song has to be one of the most memorable songs of the 80s. And I feel like Modern English was one of those group of 80s bands that had just one single blockbuster hit. Why is this song meaningful to you?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Well, back in around 1982. When I mentioned I grew up in Los Angeles, and I had just graduated from college and was back in Los Angeles. Living at my parents house going to grad school. And my, one of my oldest and dearest friends at the time was going to college in upstate New York. And she said to me, you hardly ever talk to anybody on the phone long distance in those days, but we happened to have a phone conversation where she said to me, you know, the worst thing about being here is that there's no good music, we don't have a good radio station. I need I need music, like the music that we listened to on KROQ, which KROQ was the big new wave radio station in Los Angeles in the late 70s. And through the 80s. And it was, you know, the place where we got all of our music for a very long time. And so what I did was I essentially picked songs that I was hearing on the radio all the time and made her a mix tape recording laboriously recording songs on to a cassette off of the radio, and trying to get versions of them where you know, the DJ didn't start talking over the music and stuff like that. And I could not get a version of this song where the DJ, and this song had to be on the tape. And I could not get a version of the song where the DJ, the DJ was, would not start speaking either at the beginning or the end or something. And I finally went out and bought this music it was on an EP. And which I don't even know what else is on it. I mean, to this day, I don't listen to any of the other music you were mentioning. They're sort of a one hit wonder. But I must have been completely uninterested in it. But I bought it just so I could put it on the mixtape for my friends. And I don't remember what else was on the mixtape anymore at this point. I mean, this was 1982. Right? But, but this song just has stuck with both of us, we both still really enjoy listening to this song. And she says she has the mixtape someplace. And next time I visit her periodically in Los Angeles. And next time I'm down that we were going to, you know, look around for it and stuff. But so this and it really does evoke the 80s too. And so it also evokes that whole time in my life when I was so you know, between college and grad school, but you know, not really a grown up yet, but feeling pretty grown up and having a whole you know, I don't know it has that kind of optimistic my life is ahead of me romantic sort of feel to it.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, and so, you know, I don't listen to the radio almost at all now. And so it seems like that might just be a trend that, you know, back when people were mostly listening to the radio is what you had to wait till the song came on, like you said, to hear it. And now it's more like really it's on demand like you feel like inspired like you want to hear it. So it's not like you're gonna just hear that any this song just spontaneously? Maybe you'll hear it in Trader Joe's or something. Right? Right.

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

That's always on the Muzak in Trader Jo e's right? Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's a very different world the whole idea that we had to have difficult it was to me now I want this on my playlist. I hit a buy in there. And the whole mapping out exactly how long as each song and how many minutes are there on this set? So can I you know, am I near the end? Do I have enough time for this? I'm gonna cut it off and Middle and, you know, the whole process was also just so different then I was trying to explain it to my kids once and they just frankly did not believe me. That I had to do to go through that kind of an ordeal to create mixtapes.

Aaron Gobler:

And this is before like Excel or VisiCalc or any of these things right. We had to do it like probably on a on a piece of paper. Yeah, yeah, I love the whole mixtape story, because I had made my own share of mixtapes, and I don't know how they'll sound now because probably partially demagnetized. But um, yeah, thank you for that story. That brings me back to my mixtape days. The next song on your list is Stevie Wonder's "I Believe When I Fall In Love, It Will Be Forever". So let's take a listen to that. And then I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on it afterwards. Karen, I just love Stevie Wonder's work from the 70s. And I dig how this song ends with this unexpected, like, funky sound that, that I associate with a lot of his 70s work. And I feel like when I listen to his music, I can't help but feel like I'm listening to an extremely talented writer and performer. What made you add this song to your list?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Well, let me like music nerd on you for a second and then talk about the emotional resonance. Sure. So this, this song is from the album "Talking Book", which came out in the early 70s. I think I was in junior high at the time this album came out and the songs that everybody knows from this album are, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and "Superstition" is on that album and there's "Maybe Your Baby", I think is the other one that I don't know, those songs were just like, all, you know, constant rotation on the radio through my, you know, junior high school, high school, college. I mean, well, I mean, forever. I mean, even it wasn't just the 70s they were you just heard them all the time. And, and I did never I never heard this song at that time. And that album is, I guess, sort of known in the Stevie Wonder whatever, as the album that sort of marks his real shift from his like, traditional standard, Motown R&B to more of the stuff we think of when we think of Stevie Wonder. And this song, kind of, you can see that bridge, you know, sort of, as you mentioned, it suddenly switches it the tone there at the end. And he threw in something that was completely different. And really is more sort of the direction he was moving in at that point in time. But I never heard the song and I probably heard superstition so many times I could, you know, was hearing in my sleep and, and, and then I watched high fidelity movie. And this song plays over the end credits of "High Fidelity". And I don't know if you've seen it or not,

Aaron Gobler:

John Cusack movie, yeah.

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Based on this Nick Hornby book, that's about making playlists. I mean, among other things, it's about music and this guy's relationship to music and, etc. And the use of this song over the closing credits, like as perfect in the movie with where it where the story has gotten to at that point. And, and I had never heard the song before. And it just really kind of grabbed me. And because I love the I love the melody of it. I love that kind of like lush, melodic thing that's going on. And then I mean, obviously, in the movie credits, you don't hear that tale at the end, it doesn't matter which credits don't last that long. Or maybe you do if you really listen all the way to the end, right. But at the time, that's in the early 2000s I think I was at home with a baby. And I had well, I also had a preschooler, but I was mostly at home with the baby and watching babies in my spare time on you know, at home in my living room, and that was when I saw High fidelity for the first time and heard the song and the song. I mean, it's obviously a love song. But to me it was like a really great the chorus of that is a really great thing to be singing to your baby when they're trying to come to him or her to sleep. So when I when I hear that song, I think of it as you know, the love story between me and my children more than our love song for another adult person. And I really it just like takes me back to that time. I mean, sort of in the same way that like let's talk liminal spaces or whatever the first one took me to this time in my life where I was between college and grad school and going out into becoming an adult and this one was this really interesting in between time in my life when I had stopped work for a while I was home with my little kids and was really focused on them for a couple of years and this song always reminded me It reminded me of the movie of High Fidelity but it also really reminds me of that time, being home with my kids dancing around the living room sort of swaying and trying to put my infant who never napped to sleep singing the song, but it's a really precious memory for me. And I also, regardless, I love love songs, apparently, every song I could think of to pick was always a love song was really pretty romantic. I seem to you know, gravitate towards those unlike other music do but when it comes time to pick songs for a list or something, these are the kinds of songs I tend to pick.

Aaron Gobler:

So it's it's almost like a meditation of sorts, or it kind of centers you when you're hearing these songs. Yeah. brings your mind to a positive place.

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Yeah, especially this song, it has a lot, it's very repetitive. You know, it doesn't, there aren't a lot of lyrics to the song. And the chorus just repeats over and over and over again. I'm not a musician I have it's chorus or the bridge, but whatever it's repeating over and over again in this really meditative way.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I had heard the song at some point. But it was really nice to revisit it and then really be surprised at the end with that funky part of the mix. I don't think I ever associated that with with this song. So thanks. Thanks for including this one in your in your list. The last song in your set was "Throw Your Arms Around Me", performed by Luka Blum, and we're gonna listen to that, and then I'll talk to you about it on the other side. Karen, when I looked up this song, I realized I had never heard of Luka Bloom. It really is a beautiful song. And its simplicity is I feel like it's part of its charm. I'm interested in knowing why the songs in your list and do you recall where you were in your life and how you first felt when you heard it?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Yes, actually. So Luka Bloom, if you've never familiar with Luka Bloom, listen to Riverside, which is I think his first American album, that's really good. Anyway, okay. And he's an Irish singer, songwriter. And he put out this and I have his first album came out sometime in the early 90s. And I just started to make a practice of buying all of these things as they came out. And this particular album came out and I just bought it without really knowing what it was. And it turns out to have been, still is an album of covers all the songs on it, our covers of other people's music, and, and quite a few of them were songs I wasn't familiar with. And this was one of them, I'd never heard it before, and it actually, but I just fell in love with it, I love the kind of dreamy tone of it, the, it just it really feels like that sort of dreamy, beginning of a relationship where you're, you know, you're, you're really falling in love or lust with this person. And you really want that connection. And you're you're hoping it's going to be something that that lasts, but it might not. And it just really felt like that to me. And I'm the kind of person who like cries at romantic comedies when they everybody gets together in the end, and stuff like that. And so it just, it was this thing where I would get this like well of emotion about these people in this relationship. And it was just going to be so wonderful. And that is the kind of and as I said, I for the last 20 years have mostly listened to music in my car, I guess. And it was something that when it when it would come on, I would repeat, hit repeat on this track, and listen to it over and over again. And I found it very soothing. I tend to use music to like if I'm worried about something or just it's been a long day or whatever, to kind of calm me down and transition to whatever the next part of my day is. But so at some point, really recently, like within the last two years, three years, I guess it suddenly occurred to me to wonder what is this the cover of? I've never I've never ... I love the song so much. And I'd never heard it before. And it kind of never occurred to me that it was anything I didn't know this was an album of covers that there might be another version of this song that might be really good. What was its original and I went and found the original, which is a sort of classic 80s song from an Australian band that nobody outside of Australia has ever heard of. And it sounds very 80s it doesn't sound like this at all. And it kind of made me cringe a little bit. But then I started poking around and found that actually Pearl Jam does this song in concert all the time. And there are quite a few recordings of Pearl Jam doing this song and there's also a video somewhere a purge of Eddie Vedder and the guy who wrote the song a guy named Mark Seymour singing it and it's really wonderful. I have four different versions of it on different playlists that I listened to on a pretty regular basis, but the the and I just found it so interesting when I started looking into it apparently, according to Wikipedia and verified by a close friend of mine who was from Australia, this is the most popular song in Australia of all time. This particular song and this this song not not this version of it the original version sigh whatever they were called Hunters and Collectors or something. Yes, she tells me its pronounced is just called Hunters because she says Australians don't enunciate So, everybody knows this song. Everybody knows the band. This is the kind of song that it's like, if it starts playing in a bar, everybody stands up and starts belting it out. Like an anthem. Yeah, it's like it's like Sweet Caroline at a bar or something, everybody, which is so funny, because it's this kind of sad romantic song. I actually checked with her yesterday, I said, you know, I said, I'm going to be talking to my friend Aaron about this song. And I just want to be sure this is really true. And she's like, Oh my God, that's so true. It is like, you know, even though it's from whatever it is the mid 80s everybody to this day knows the song loves the song will burst into song singing it people always often have it as like the first dance at their wedding. It's an Australian institution and it was completely an anybody I know who knows it now. It only knows it through having heard Pearl Jam, sing it, and most people have never heard it. Like you and like me before. I've got The Luka Bloom album. But anyway, I just love it.

Aaron Gobler:

Right, this might help me break into the Australian market with having the song on this list. So yeah, so thank you. Thank you for that for that story. It was really very, very. Yeah, definitely the carrying amount of romantic theme across these songs. And I'm glad I heard that song. Thank you. Is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections that that I hadn't asked you about? Or that you're dying to just talk about?

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Not really, I think it's pretty obvious. As I said, I like a love song. And and somehow ones that evoke nostalgia or some special time in my life, or I like even more.

Aaron Gobler:

Awesome, awesome. So I want to thank you again, Karen. This was a lot of fun. And I hope you enjoyed yourself.

Karen Frasier-Kolligs:

Definitely I'm glad I decided to I'm glad I decided to do it. It was really really hard. I mean, of course you know, I gave you more than three songs. But even to give you six songs was really hard to narrow it down I feel like you know on any given day I might except with the exception of "I Melt With You" I probably on any given day would give you a different list. The other two songs would be something else.

Aaron Gobler:

I mean for this show, when I first was thinking about it, I thought oh, just your top you know, favorite songs but but I'm realizing that that's difficult you know even for me to do can pick those top three songs and really perfectly the way you've you know, encapsulate each song about the story that's really kind of where where I want the you know, the show to be so I really love your stories. And I want to thank you again for joining me and joining our listeners ...

and to my listeners:

if you want to be part of this show. Start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show, and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. And until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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