I imagine that many of you out there will either agree with me, or agree to disagree, but it is this blogger's humble opinion that one of the best summer foods to eat is a nice rack of barbecued ribs.
I mean, seriously. Is there any other time of year in which they are the most tasty? Just being able to grill them outside, coating them with a sauce that packs a punch. That's the perfect summer treat as far as I'm concerned, ranking right up there with watermelon, frozen lemonade, and corn on the cob.
I mean, sure. I suppose that you can have ribs any time of the year. My mother makes ribs all year round in the oven along with her world famous secret recipe (which if you're really nice, I could tell you the ingredients, but I don't have exact measurements as she never really did figure out an exact ratio).
I do know that the sauce contains brown sugar, ketchup, and a little pinch of salt...those are three ingredients that I know of, but I'm lost on what the other ones are.
Anyway, the reason why I'm talking about ribs is because I spent a little bit of time at our annual RibFest celebration last night. Although I was only at RibFest for an hour and a half, the time that I did spend there was well worth it. There must have been at least two dozen food vendors there with everything from poutines to Jolly Rancher slushies (which come recommended by this blogger, might I add).
But of course, the stars of the festival were the various kiosks that served up delicious ribs, juicy pieces of chicken, and other wonderful foodstuffs. I had a hard time choosing which vendor to sample food from as every single place looked and smelled incredible. In the end, I chose to stand in the line that appeared to be the shortest, which happened to be the ribs being cooked by the team known as “Camp 31”.
THE END RESULT: Highly recommended. The ribs were absolutely delicious, and if I had brought more money with me, I would have totally gone for seconds!
But even more impressive than the food was the overall ambience of the festival. The vibe there was just impressive. Everyone there was in a really great mood, and I don't think I saw anyone there with a grimace on their face at all.
(Go figure...people will happily stand in line for twenty minutes to order and pay for ribs and chicken at a once-a-year festival, but they grumble and moan if they have to wait the same amount of time in a supermarket checkout line.)
I mean, the crowd was lively, the market booths that were there were bustling with activity (and again, had I brought more money with me, I may have actually considered buying something from them), and all in all, I'm really happy that I went down and experienced it first hand. It's not very often that I get the opportunity to partake in RibFest (this is the first year in a long time that I've actually been off the weekend it's held), so for me this was extra special.
So, I'm sure you're wondering what barbecued ribs have to do with the Sunday Jukebox. Well...not a lot, really. But I will state that while I was there, there was a song that was playing in the background that kind of fits the mood I felt back in the days in which I was – shall we say – less willing to go to a crowded public place. Therefore, I thought it was only fitting to make that song the “Sunday Jukebox” song for today.
Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Nik Kershaw? The British-born singer-songwriter (who is absolutely no relation to country singer Sammy Kershaw) was born on March 1, 1958 in Bristol, England, and over the course of his fifty-five years on this planet has done quite a lot of work within the music industry. He's released eight studio albums, and has collaborated with other musical artists such as Michael W. Smith, Kim Wilde, and Elton John.
TRIVIA: If you've ever heard Elton John's 1985 hit, “Nikita”, Nik Kershaw sings backing vocals and plays the electric guitar on that track. Not that we're featuring “Nikita” in this space, it's just a cool little piece of trivia that I found interesting.
However, here's the thing with Nik Kershaw. Many people in North America might not know who he is. In the United Kingdom, he's had several Top 10 hits and spent a record breaking sixty-two weeks on the UK charts with his various single releases...but in the United States, he probably would best be described as a one-hit-wonder.
And to me that is a real shame because I am a huge fan of his stuff from the 1980s.
At the peak of his popularity, Nik Kershaw was considered to be one of the greatest artists to come out of the New Wave movement. Sure, “Duran Duran” and “Tears for Fears” had greater success in North America, but Nik Kershaw did his best to hold his own in an already competitive market.
And in 1984, his moment in the sun came with the release of this single, the second from his debut album, “Human Racing”, and the song up for discussion today.
ARTIST: Nik Kershaw
SONG: Wouldn't It Be Good
ALBUM: Human Racing
DATE RELEASED: January 21, 1984
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS: #46
Yeah...just missing out on the Top 40 isn't considered to be a great track record...but in his native UK, it was a Top 5 hit. So, all in all, it balanced out.
First things first, let's talk about the music video. What a strange one it is, isn't it? With Nik's super Clorox coloured business suit projecting images upon it as he sings each lyric, and people staring at him and singing his own song back to him as he cowers in fear, and then appearing to disintegrate upon seeing laser beams shooting out of a satellite dish. Who exactly is Nik? A confused human, or a space alien, or just some twenty-something man who purposely came up with a confusing video to make people talk about it around the water coolers at work?
(Actually, if you're looking for a weird Nik Kershaw video, search out the one he filmed for his 1984 single “The Riddle”. That one trumps “Wouldn't It Be Good” for its weirdness alone.)
Secondly, this song is one that you've likely heard in some of the most interesting places. Take the 1986 film “Pretty in Pink”. Although it's not Nik singing in that version, a band known as the Danny Hutton Hitters released their own version for the movie soundtrack. If you've ever played the video game “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories”, the song is played on one of the radio stations in the game. And, the song was also featured in the film “Gotcha!” from 1985 in one of the scenes.
But the main reason why I really wanted to talk about this particular song is because of the song's lyrics. The song's beautiful, well-crafted, thoughtful lyrics penned by Kershaw himself.
(That's one of the main reasons why I'm disappointed that Nik Kershaw didn't have more of a following in North America. His songs are certainly a lot more poignant and passionate than some of the songs that pass as Top 40 hits in 2013. But that's another rant altogether.)
If you've listened closely to the lyrics, the whole song is sung in the perspective of a man who is not exactly in the best place in his life. He keeps talking about all of his problems, and how he feels about them. He's sick of fighting life every step of the way, and he's sick of feeling this way. He talks about how the struggle to keep his life and soul together is incredibly hard and getting harder each day, and how is spirit is completely broken.
Wow...I don't know what happened to this guy, but for him to look at life in such a bleak manner, it had to have been something terrible.
He then takes a look at other people who seemingly are happy with their lives, and how they appear to have found the joy and passion that he simply doesn't know how to find.
And he starts to think...wouldn't it be good to be in their shoes? Even if it was for just one day?
I'll tell you something. I've had those thoughts before. Probably more than anyone else that I know. All throughout my entire childhood and early adulthood, I couldn't help but keep thinking to myself how good life would be if I were living someone else's. Most of the kids I went to school with seemed to be happy, carefree kids who found it easy to make friends, or to do well in school, or to play on sports teams, or to be able to afford the newest fashion trends or coolest new toys.
Oh, what I wouldn't have given to be one of them for once.
It really wasn't until I grew a little bit older that I saw the truth. Yeah, it might have been good to be in someone else's shoes and experience never being bullied, or never having to worry about money ever again. But as we quickly learn in our lives, sometimes the people who have it all are often the ones who are suffering the most. It may appear that a couple is living a wealthy life with money to burn, but you might not realize that they've spent a lot of money trying to have a child, with each one of those attempts being unsuccessful. You might be jealous of a star football player getting all the girls, only to realize that football player has a really horrific home life where he is constantly bullied by his own father. You might want to trade places with a man who has everything he could ever want in the world, only to realize that man would trade places with you in a heartbeat because you have a wonderful support system at home, and he's all alone in the world.
But you know something? I'm at the point in my life where I'm in a very good place right now. Do I wish that things could be better? Absolutely. There's some things in my life that are incomplete and I'm trying to get all the pieces assembled so I can have the best possible life for myself. But, I'm at the stage now where I would never wish to be anyone else. It's good to be yourself.
And this is coming from someone who never could admit that until now.