As I was writing in my journal earlier, I took a peek at past years’ entries just to see my own personal growth through the years on this particular date in time. Today, I came across an entry from Triumphs & Tribulations IX in 2009. At the time, I was a few months into an exciting and mostly secret dating relationship with a British woman who taught English in the Aomori Prefecture of Japan, whom I met when we crossed paths in a Roppongi Hills pizzeria. You might remember her from this post as The Bodacious Brit. It was something of a whirlwind dating experience that included hosting each other on whole day dates in Tokyo and Aomori, respectively, as well as trips to our respective homelands—I took her to Los Angeles, she took me to London. It was during that London trip where I actually met her mother, who asked the most interesting question of the entire dating relationship during a dinner: “So, what are you two, really”? The Bodacious Brit answered, “We’re just kickin’ it, mum. He’s my American boy”. She had this peculiar, almost flirtatious look in her eyes as she said it. I was instantly reminded of a music track. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Estelle’s “American Boy”.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the track way back on April 30, 2008 while waiting for the Amel Larrieux show at Billboard Live Tokyo. The Billboard staff were playing music over the loudspeaker before the show and that was one of the many tracks they featured. I remember diggin’ the beat and the Kanye West rap. I wasn’t disappointed with Estelle’s vocals. They weren’t quite Corrinne Bailey Rae, Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, or Rhian Benson but they were nonetheless impressive and certainly caught my attention. I jotted down the name of the track in my iPod Touch and kept it moving.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, I didn’t think too much of the track. It was just another song with a very catchy beat and some fantastic wordplay. I was really attracted to the Kanye West rap: “Dressed smart like a London bloke/Before he speak, his suit bespoke/And you thought he was cute before/Look at this pea coat, tell me he’s broke”. When I met The Bodacious Brit, the track took on a new meaning. What she told her mother wasn’t necessarily untrue. We didn’t really put a label on what we were doing at the time. We were simply having fun and enjoying the moment, as early-to-mid 20-somethings dating in a foreign country should have. I was her American boy and she was my British babe. I don’t think it was anything more than that. The track embodied our situation.
What it means to me now? Obviously, the track doesn’t get much—if any—radio play today so I don’t hear it as often as I did several years ago. It is in my Windows Media Player library, however, and when it cues up in my random music listening, I’m reminded of that carefree dating relationship and the places it took me…literally and figuratively.