A song you hear shopping

Monday, July 25, 2011

Here we go again with the "American Songwriter" song extravaganza! This is a weird question, so it's going to get a weird answer that really has very little to do with shopping. But if you are at all interested in Jesse McCartney, I insist you read on.

The song, first off, is "Beautiful Soul" by Jesse McCartney. This is more of an inside joke than anything else, but there was one day when I hit the mall with my friends and I swear he was following us around. Or, more accurately, this song was. Now when he or this song comes up, we all start screeching with laughter and sing along.

(My guess is that Jesse is embarrassed by his first single, because the
official full-length version of the music video doesn't exist on YouTube or Vevo.
But if you are just dying to see it in full, you can watch it on Vimeo.)

But there's more to this story than that.

My history with this song dates back to about two years before it hit radio. By some stroke of ... fate, I suppose, I happened to go to high school with one of Jesse's childhood friends. Who, without revealing too much, began dating him around the time I came to know her and when Jesse was first preparing to launch his solo career. I don't remember exactly how this all transpired, but somehow I got my hands on what was possibly the earliest version of "Beautiful Soul," which was a little different from the version that eventually ended up on the radio and on his album.

Beautiful Soul

At the time, I was one of the few people who was in this girl's social circle who had really even heard of Jesse McCartney (or JMac, as he was calling himself back then). I'd heard briefly of the boy band he'd been in (Dreamstreet) and had seen him on television performing before. Oddly enough (seeing as he was totally my type at the time), I wasn't attracted to him. After I started hearing stories about Jesse and his band practices on the regular, though, I randomly started dreaming about being his girlfriend. I shrugged this off because I didn't think too much of him.

Fast forward a year or two, when "Beautiful Soul" did actually hit radio. I was like, "wow, he really made it." That was around the time the song started "following me around." In my dorm room during winter break, I stepped away from my room to take a shower and came back to my laptop playing the "Beautiful Soul" music video on a streaming video site, though I had paused -- if not stopped -- any players before stepping away. And in time, he and his voice grew on me. I'll even admit I had a little bit of a crush on him.

Fast forward another year and some. It's summer and I'm an intern at a magazine. Jesse's about to release his second solo album and my supervisor is going to a show he's taping to interview him. I jokingly drop a couple of hints to her about wanting to tag along. To my sheer amazement, she loves the idea. She puts a request in with his publicist. Two days before the interview, I score free tickets to a concert he's giving from some giveaway I'd jokingly entered. The concert happens the night before my interview.

The concert is fine, and the sound at the venue isn't great, so he sounds like a woman. But I'm more excited about meeting him the next morning anyway. The next day, I meet my supervisor downtown at a television studio and we wait in the green room with a bunch of Production Assistants and random people. We graze over the (really lush) catering table but don't really eat anything -- I'm too nervous! We go out to watch Jesse tape his television interview and performance (which he does multiple times; he seemed to be a perfectionist), and after some time, we are led to his dressing room.

The room is teeny, like a narrow closet. He's already in there, I think with his mother and two siblings, and we wait for his publicist to join us before we start firing the questions. After he answers the questions, we talk to him for a few minutes. When it's finally my chance, I tell him I went to his concert the night before.

"Oh yeah?" he asks, "What did you think?"
"It was better than I thought it would be! I was pleasantly surprised."


He laughs, or something, and my supervisor looks at me like I'm a champ. Someone comes in at that point, or in any case interrupts the conversation, and we shake hands and take leave of the place.

Outside, my supervisor says, "I can't believe you said that to him! That was awesome!"

Maybe. I felt bad, a little amused, and kind of proud of myself. I felt that I had come "full circle" with Jesse McCartney. But to this day, my friends love to pretend I had some sort of fling with him, or at least tease me about it.

For one of my birthdays, they Photoshopped my face into a photo with him and had it screenprinted on a carrot cake. They still bring the story up to this day ... apparently the baker asked them several times if they seriously wanted that photo on the cake:

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