I’d heard “Hooked on a Feeling” before it was popularized again in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but I’d logged it away in the way that you hear songs but don’t realize you’ve heard it until you’ve heard it again somewhere else. But the movie’s trailer, I think that’s where I heard it next, brought it back to me. Brought me back to it.
It’s strange, my relationship with this song. I really enjoy it, but it makes me terribly sad. As I’m sure many people do, I strongly associate songs, particularly ones I play on repeat as I did with this song two years ago, with what, where and who I am in that moment. “Breezeblocks” brings me back to the summer after my junior year, working at a soccer store and melting daily in that Missouri sun.
Lil Wayne reminds me of tooling around the streets of Kansas City with my friends, down dark streets flanked by old, dignified trees, their expressions like the clock in “Beauty in the Beast,” noses upturned, buttressing the upper-middle class fortress. That’s what I remember when I hear Lil Wayne songs. Loose happiness.
But sadness is what I feel and hear and breathe when I hear “Hooked on a Feeling.” It’s a happy song, a song about how love is intoxicating, a drug, but also a safe house, an existential embrace. A reminder, a reassurance, delivered and demanded.
So why do I keep saying, in such an irritatingly overwrought fashion, that it makes me sad? Because it re-emerged in my life almost a year after the death of an old friend, and to my shame and sorrow that’s likely the only fair way to describe our relationship.
I fixated on the hooked on a feeling lyric. She died in a car accident, alone. But months before she died, she reached out to me, for the first time in six years. I didn’t reach back. A year later, and still really, I was hooked on the feeling that I’d failed her.
It makes no sense, I kept telling myself then and tell myself now, my doublespeak with this song. But I wanted somebody to quote the song to me, to tell me that everything was alright, and I wanted to believe it. To the credit of several people, I got half of that. But I was hooked on the feeling.
“I can’t stop this feeling / Deep inside of me.” It makes no sense, it makes no sense, it makes no sense. But I can’t breathe logic into it, can’t dismantle and discard my irrational association of Blue Swede’s blissful joy and my leaching sorrow. Don’t ask me to because I can’t. They’re pressed together at the top of the stack in the part of my memory when old didn’t proceed friends.
I love the song. I listen to it often. But it makes me terribly sad, and maybe it’s a good thing. No, it’s not. But I listen anyway, and pass my hand over my face, and remember.