Coming to Terms With Your Favorite Song

Awards season is virtually over, with the exception of one or two more relatively insignificant, trophy-tossing events.

There are the Daytime Emmys (big for soap fans) and the MTV Movie Awards. But if you find MTV categories like "best screen kiss" and "best villain" to be compelling, than I assume you'd also be interested in another version of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here starring the likes of Mindy Cohn from The Facts of Life and Anson "Potsie" Williams from Happy Days.

In the weeks following the Oscars, the only things entertainment-related that I've come to learn are the following: The late Michael Jeter was underrated as an actor; Lisa Marie Presley clearly has as many issues as her late father; and Russell Crowe has to be stricken from my special list of dirty-looking bachelors who I'll never get a shot at, but could go for if the situation arose.

Thus, I will either enthrall or burden you with another one of my musical experiences.

Everyone Has a Favorite Song Even now, in 2003, not everyone has cable, not everyone has the Internet. But everyone has a favorite song, a quintessential tune that means more to you than any other because it's the one that brings us back to a favorite moment in the past. A particularly meaningful song provides the background melody when we fall in love.

When you're young, you have your "mostest favorite song in the whole wide world" and now, once in a blue moon, when you hear it on the radio, it never fails to grab you, and you just have to say, "Oh my God! I used to love this! Turn it up."

My heart-stopper was always the Patti Austin/James Ingram duet "How Do You Keep the Music Playing." It was the theme song to the Burt Reynolds/Goldie Hawn film Best Friends.

When I saw the movie and heard the song, I immediately rushed out for the soundtrack and listened to it a million times. I swore it would be the song that I would play at every significant moment in my life — when I graduated school, lost my virginity, married, gave birth, and celebrated my 50th wedding anniversary.

Ultimately, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," would be played at my funeral as Rick Springfield, the love of my life, wept over my coffin, and recalled our glorious years together.

All poor Rick would have to look back on is the song in video form, featuring a montage of Rick and I frolicking on the beach, tickling the kids, etc. … should anyone want to produce it.

Same Tune, New Magic

Suffice it to say, the life I had planned took its first wrong turn when my virtue got lost to the jukin' sounds of the Stray Cats' "Rock This Town."

Many years have gone by since "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" was released. I changed. My musical tastes changed. Many years of education at the School of Infinitely Hard Knocks confirmed to me that life's plan does not play out to the tune of your favorite song.

Or so I thought …

One upside to being an entertainment journalist in New York City is that when something strange happens in show business, it usually happens here — and a publicist will want you to see it. Recently, I got an invite to the stage show Puppetry of the Penis featuring an "all new" cast (of what?!) and I wasn't too excited.

Here's what tickled me to death: A press release for a Patti Austin performance as part of a songwriter's series.

The venue was quite intimate and Austin was only slated to sing a few songs. I wasn't really sure she'd sing the one song I wanted to hear, but finally, she closed the show with "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," and it was magic.

I hadn't thought much about the song since back in those days of naïveté, when I thought it'd be the breakout hit on the soundtrack of my life. As I listened, it dawned on me, some 20 years later, what it all meant.

My "mostest favorite" song was being performed live while I sat beside a person I loved.

My life might not have been what I envisioned when I heard the song as a teenager (Rick was still wearing the skinny tie back then), but it certainly fit the present.

Wartime makes many of us nostalgic, yearning for the purity of our youth. I guess Rick Springfield will never be my husband. I guess it's also realistic to believe that things happen for a reason. Somehow, life manages to offer a perfect moment, even in these most imperfect times.

Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.