A couple days ago, someone asked my why I was into music, and for whatever reason, I hadn’t really thought about it before and gave kind of a bland answer that basically amounted to “because I like it.” Well, yesterday evening Sonny Smith gave me a better answer, and I want to thank him for it.
It was a normal day at work and normal commute home, but right as the BART train I was on was coming out of the tunnel between Lake Merritt and Fruitvale, Sonny’s “Pretend You Love Me” came on. It’s a song I’ve heard many times and always enjoyed, but for some reason, this time it turned that moment into the best part of my day.
The hazy yellow sun over the standstill 880 traffic through the grimy BART windows were all of a sudden pure beauty. I’m extremely fortunate to be in only healthy relationships and really have no worries whatsoever, but Sonny made me feel his character’s pain and yearning and optimism combined with a heavy dose of realism. I think I got goosebumps. As I got off at Fruitvale, I thought about downtown office workers on their way home to unhappy marriages, about Sonny’s Fruitvale album and how much I loved it, how great those tacos smell, Oscar Grant, how much I love a pedal steel, how perfect this rhythm is, how lucky I am to not be a sad person, flutes, and a whole lot of other stuff over five and a half perfect minutes. And I realized why I like music so much: this guy named Sonny released a song four years ago that I’d heard dozens of times, but it came on at just the right moment at just the right place and completely transformed how I looked at the world.
So anyway Sonny, thanks for writing “Pretend You Love Me” and giving me a better answer to the question “why are you into music?”
If you see Sonny around, you should thank him, too, for writing that song and lots of other stuff, like making rad videos and doing weird promos and supporting and working with younger local artists releasing album after album after album (including an incredible spoken word one!) and never sounding the same. Actually, you should probably go buy tickets to his shows and buy his records (new and old) and consider yourself lucky guys like Sonny are still in San Francisco.