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Sep 26, 2014 11:14AM ● By Elena Hutslar

Paul Cotruvo

Over the last few years, I have done many interviews with local musicians, and I always ask the question, “If you were a song, what song would you be and why?” I do not ask this question lightly, nor am I trying to channel my inner Barbara Walters. I truly believe music can shape our lives and inspire all of us to be better human beings. The answers are always interesting and revealing. I was asked this question in an interview a few years back and I still stand by my answer. The song I chose was, “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Remember the lyrics, “What would you think if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key. Oh I get by with a little help from my friends.” I think this little song by the Beatles really inspires me to be a better person.  We should all be helping each other every day! So I thought it would be fun to ask a few local dignitaries this question, “What song inspires you, or if you were a song, what song would you be and why?” Here’s what they had to say:


Zac Shess, board member of the Pleasant Hill Rec & Park District, said, “There are so many songs, but I'm taking your question literally. I'm not picking my favorite song to listen to or my favorite song to work out to, but the song that inspires me. Mine is from a rather obscure ‘80s project band called The Style Council. The song is called ‘Headstart to Happiness.’ Headed by one of the more underrated musicians of that era, Paul Weller, the song itself is a nod to several genres, including big band, ‘80s synth-pop and even a little dub-step. Anyway, the song is very upbeat and speaks to a hope of a new relationship and looking forward to the future. I guess that's what we're all trying to do is get that headstart to happiness.”


Ann Luke, executive director of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, said, “If I were a song, I would be my favorite one, James Taylor's ‘The Secret of Life,’ and I would be very smart! Every time I hear it, I'm reminded that life is ticking away and I should be enjoying the passage of time! (The lyrics are) ‘It would be easy... after all, any fool can do it, there ain't nothing to it, nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill, but since we're on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride!’”


Here is what Jay Lifson, executive director at Lafayette Chamber of Commerce had to say, “Tough question. I don’t have an anthem or a theme or a ‘my song.’ When I was young and the battle was raging in Vietnam, I think Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve of Destruction’ was what was on my mind. Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’ was a particularly bitter song, but it struck a chord with me. Funny, the first two songs I thought of are pretty negative. I belong to the church of ‘Don’t be an ***hole.’  These songs identified what I did not like in this world. So I am thinking what song speaks to the hope and wonder in my life. How about ‘The Attics of My Life’ by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead? For me, it is not religious or deeply spiritual, just what is possible.”


Pleasant Hill Mayor Tim Flaherty chimed in with, “This is a difficult question for me to answer. Songs evoke memories of a certain time and place in my life, but none that I can immediately identify as the tune of my life. As a (very) young boy I recall gathering around the portable phonograph and singing with my dad to Mitch Miller and ‘Mairzy Dotes.’ Later on it was crushing on the girl across the street to the Beatles’ ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ and later still (after fast forwarding through what is now called classic rock, disco and Cher), smitten with the charms of the woman across the street, it was Hootie and the Blowfish’s ‘Hold My Hand.’ Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ comes as close as any song to being my personal anthem. Work hard, make thoughtful choices, and live them out loud. Stand up for the downtrodden. Be confident, but not arrogant. And most importantly, have a good time.”


And finally, Sheila Cotruvo, chair of the Pleasant hill Civic Action Commission (my beautiful wife), says, “The song that inspire me is the Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun.’ It has seen me through some very sad times and always brings me joy each time I hear it. It reminds me that each day is a gift, and yes, the

‘Smiles (do return) to their faces’ even after the darkest of times.”

 What song are you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 Quote of the Month:

“You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”  --From the 2007 movie, August Rush.


Paul’s picks for October:


October 10: Ken Cooper, Back Forty, 100 Coggins Drive, Pleasant Hill, 6pm

October 11: The Spazmatic’s, Dan’s Bar, 1524 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 10pm                  

October 12: Storm Large w/ Swoon, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm  

October 16: Duo Gadjo, Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista, Martinez, 8pm

October 17: Lumberyard, Vinnie’s Bar & Grill, 2045 Mt. Diablo Street, Concord, 9pm

October 18: Mutha Cover, Dallimonti’s, 1932 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 9:30pm

October 25: Matt Owens & Friends, Roxx on Main, 627 Main St., Martinez, 7pm

October 30: Sin Silver, Rocco’s Pizzeria, Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, 8:30pm       


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