Yesterday was a fun little walk down memory lane when we posted up some playlists and thoughts on the state of pop-punk in the music scene. I had a great time reading through all the comments, re-visiting a lot of the albums from my youth, and checking out some of the nu-pop-punk bands that are out there today. While I was getting lost in that thread, I started thinking about how much music can impact, change, and mean to all of us. It's one of those things that sometimes gets lost in the drama and gets overlooked in the "right now" culture of the music industry. This thought has been percolating all night -- and while reading over Adam's post earlier this morning, the lead quote once again caught my attention. So, with today's "Thursday Discussion" -- I'm in the mood to really explore those albums and moments in music that flat out move you.
Those moments that make you realize why you love music.
Those moments that with forever stay with you.
While we have a lot of fun searching out new bands ... I think it's because we're really looking for that "fix," we're chasing that aural dragon clamoring for the next rush. I've got more vivid memories of those times where a song grabbed me by the throat than most anything else in my life. That's why I'm here writing, why you're here reading, and why we both reach for the play button when life acts like ... well ... life. It's that communal search for moments and the transcendent nature of music that brings us both here -- and with that in mind, I want to share the top 3 moments where music has completely floored me. As always, I'd love to hear your stories as well. Anything from a particular lyric, an album that changed your life, or even a live show that was something of a religious experience ... at the core: why do you listen?
I'm going to go Rob Gordon and attempt a chronological journey ... let's see how this works out. I went with only three, because, well, they're long. And I tried to pick the big ones, spread out at relatively similar intervals, as all the little stories could fill novels.
Middle school was rough for me. I'm sure the story's not much different for most people. It's a time where everyone is trying to fit in and where any misstep during the day can lead to you being ostracized and mocked mercilessly by everyone else trying to avoid that same fate. Basically: fuck middle school. I enjoyed music in that "if it's there I'll listen" kind of way. My dad would play the classics on the turntable at home, and I listened to the radio, mimicked Michael Jackson and Elvis alone in my bedroom -- and really didn't give it much thought. I was just old enough to be stupid enough to think I understood love. At a time where most of my friends were listening to Metallica and Pantera, basically one girl in the entire school wanted to talk to me (until she didn't), and life at home wasn't particularly a picnic ... a friend left his CD case over at my house. I was just bored enough that night to pirate his music collection -- by that I mean do what we did in the early 90s: open up this zipper pouch abomination and look for a plastic disc that was probably scratched to shit. I listened to his Everclear albums. I listened to his Metallica collection. And for some reason, I decided to see what this this band with giant bull-nuts on their album cover was all about. That changed everything. It's the first time I remember thinking that there was someone else out there ... that got it. That I wasn't the only awkward moron that got dumped, got picked on, enjoyed dick jokes, and, fuck, liked Star Wars. And the way the music came out ... so completely unlike what I'd heard before. So completely unlike what my friends were listening to. So completely unlike what my parents were listening to.
Within a few short years, Blink-182 would arguably be the biggest band in the world and every guy I knew wanted to be Mark or Tom. While some lamented their favorite band getting huge ... I finally felt like I fit in - somewhere. I finally felt like I could relate to a group of people ... and that feeling of musical community is one I've quite literally tried to recreate. Listen: Blink-182 - Dude Ranch
I went to southern California for college to search for basically the opposite of rainy Oregon. I wanted the beaches and I wanted out of my town. I wanted a different lifestyle. My favorite bands were coming from Cali ... and in one of those weird twists of fate: my randomly assigned freshman roommate came from Poway. You know, where Blink's from. He's remained my best friend to this day. College is a completely different lifestyle. I wanted freedom? Fuck, I got freedom. I wanted sun? I got sun. But with all of that comes a completely new level of responsibility as well. The truth is you can move all over the country hoping that a change in scenery will bring a change in life ... but if all you're changing are the colors outside your window, you're never going to see the changes you're really hoping for. You're trying to find yourself in a world that does not give a fuck about your individual journey. 9/11 happens. Over night, the world virtually changes -- but, with time, you find that it does start spinning again. You find that that shit you were insecure about before you left home? Still there. The scars? Still calloused. The search for comfort within the songs? Still a nightly obsession.
Music became my drug. Lyrics my sedative, guitar riffs my Prozac, bass lines were pumping through my veins at such rates that I thought, at times, they were all that were keeping my heart beating. No wonder I came up with the tagline for this website one night sitting in bed, yeah?
I'm willing to bet most people know where this is heading right now ... right? Sophomore year of college. Summer of 2003. A spaceman hovering above a dismal sea. I'd argue in a move that shifted the music scene, forever, Brand New released Deja Entendu. I remember hearing the album for the first time and having a feeling that I'd just heard a generational album. I'm pretty sure I posted, on some old ass version of this website, a blog post along the lines of "every generation needs a voice -- this is ours." I (probably rightfully) took a lot of shit for that in those days -- but the way that album hit me felt so unique, so personal, and yet I've heard it repeated so many times by people I talk to on a daily basis. In bedrooms, dormrooms, and basements across the world ... we got rewired. At a time where I thought just changing zip codes would change my life -- I found someone singing everything I wish I could say. At a time where I felt like the world was spinning wildly out of control -- I found comfort in slipping on headphones and pushing play. That made sense to me. That made everything seem like it could be ok.
Toward the end of 2007 I ended a relationship that, at the time, I thought was "the one." Now, I was living alone, back in Oregon, and having one of those moments that always predates some kind of breakthrough (or breakdown). One of those moments where - when you're in it - you feel like the whole world is sitting on your back. I was running AP.net full-time - as a career - and I was doing so with a perpetual chip on my shoulder from all the people that told me I'd fail. I was probably blogging all kinds of emo shit about no longer believing in love and was stressed out, daily, with how the webservers couldn't handle any increases in traffic we saw. Wound tight? You bet. However, between the August of 2007 and the next ... one of the users on the website (RyanFTW if memory serves) told me I needed to check out this band. I get a lot of recommendations on a daily basis and honestly I do my best to listen to as many of them as I can. I can't remember the exact reasoning that led to me deciding to check out this particular album late one night ... but I remember ceasing to give a fuck about anything else going on in my life about 10 seconds into the first song.
In another taste shifting moment ... The '59 Sound made me re-think virtually everything I thought I knew. The vocals, lyrics, musicianship ... fuck me ... I didn't know what I was getting into. I was welling up through, "Here's Looking At You Kid," and by the end of the album it felt like a weight was lifted. I spent that night walking down the middle of the street and hitting repeat. This moment crystallizes for me because I remember this being where I realized I had a lot of things I needed to put in the past. I had a lot of things I needed to let go of ... and that if I was ever going to have a shot at reaching my goals, it was time to start now. That if I really wanted to do the things I wrote in letters to myself - that changes needed to be made. I can trace who I am through the albums I've listened to; I can see who I want to be through the songs I keep playing.
"Music became my drug. Lyrics my sedative, guitar riffs my Prozac, bass lines were pumping through my veins at such rates that I thought, at times, they were all that was keeping my heart beating. No wonder I came up with the tagline for this website one night sitting in bed, yeah?"
I'm not going to write out the stories right now, but it's safe to say I've had many of these moments and, considering I'm still in college, I'll have many more. My big three (so far):
Middle school (2001-ish): Less Than Jake-Pezcore: I've never stopped thanking my cousin for handing this down to me. Totally opened my eyes to a genre of music that I hadn't managed to hear of yet.
End of middle school/beginning of high school (2003/4): Senses Fail-From the Depths of Dreams/Let It Enfold You: Thus began my love affair with music from my home state. Senses Fail has been one of my favorite bands consistently ever since, and I doubt I'll ever let them go.
College (2010/11): Silverstein/We Are the In Crowd: Two bands that sound nothing alike. I'm not even listing individual cds for these two. I just forgot why music had meant so much to me for a while. They reminded me why I had loved it, why it had been my entire life all through high school. WATIC reminded me why I thought the scene back home was so great when I was growing up.
In 8th grade I discovered ...Is A Real Boy after hearing "Alive With The Glory of Love" on the Scrubs finale. I was already listening to a scattered assortment of blink-182, Green Day, and other assorted bands at the time, but this record floored me and completely opened my eyes to how ambitious and different music could be. A victim of the Itunes generation, it pulled me into understanding the idea of albums instead of just collections of songs. It brought me to this website, and was a year or two later the reason I made an account, for a chat prior to the Two Tongues release I think. So through that, I think it opened me to almost everything.
Fun.'s Aim and Ignite in partnership with The Format's Dog Problems gave me a wild and unquenchable love for good pop music later the same year, after seeing Fun. talked about around on the site. And look where they're at now.
This is amazing! I love Thursday Discussions. There have been a few big moments of clarity fueled by music over the years, but the most recent is definitely with the release of The Wonder Years' Suburbia. I had moved to Nashville to "escape" my suburban hometown & start a new kind of life. I stayed there after I graduated college and after months of searching & working retail & losing a job to outsourcing that I had expected to become a career, I was faced with the very real prospect of moving back to the hometown I had so desperately wanted to escape. I felt like such a failure. But then I listened to this album & realized so much. That I had been pushing myself too hard to "succeed", when my true success can be found in the fact that I had taken a chance & moved South. I had made a home there while maintaining friendships I'd had since childhood. It's not about where you live or the job you have - it's about how hard you're willing to try to chase down what makes you happy & if you have the courage to surround yourself with the ones who truly know & love you. Such a simple concept. I ended up staying in Nashville but the feelings this album inspired have lingered & will stick with my for a long time to come.
I'm just scratching the surface! I could go on & on with this. One of the most life-changing albums ever, along with Take This To Your Grave & blink self-titled.
I dno if I want to share this but i guess I will anyway, Ive always wanted to vent about it.
About 6 or 7 months ago things were getting really really bad for me. I was getting to a point where I basically hated myself, things were happening and I didnt understand why I couldnt get out of my rut. I saw everyone around me, all my closest friends happier than ever but i still felt awful everyday. Nobody knew, and still nobody knows to this day how bad things were getting for me. I am a really introverted person emotionally. I hate people knowing how I feel and what I am thinking. Keeping it all in was getting baad. I started blaming myself for everything that sucked in my life, and my self confidence was at a pretty low point.
I would rather not get into the reasons why I was feeling this way, but the bottom line is it really sucked and I have never felt like that before. Brand New has been my favorite band of all time, and I think a lot of you on this site know that, so im sorry to disappoint you with another "brand new fanboy post", but whatever. Anyway, I didnt think anyone felt the way I did. I thought what I was going through was the worst possible thing ever, for anyone.
Although I wasnt doing so consciously, I found myself listening to Daisy in my room alone, more and more and more. This record is and was the perfect depiction of how I felt. It didnt heal me, and it didnt so much make me happier, but it was comforting. It was a comfort to know someone else out there felt a similar way that I did. There are so many lyrics off that record that were spinning through my head constantly at that time.
It was the first time in my entire life where I wasnt listening to something because I wanted to. I wasnt listening to that record because Brand New are my favorite band of all time. I wasnt doing it even because of how much I loved the record. I was listening to it because I needed to. I dont know exactly how to describe it, but i just needed it. There would be days at school (pretty much everyday at the time) where I would be sitting in my last class of the day thinking "I need to go home and listen to Daisy".
Not only was it an extreme comfort to know someone else felt the things I was feeling, but like I said, it was the perfect depiction. looking back on it, it is almost creepy how much i related to that record. I used it as a way to vent to myself. I have never depended on music more in my entire life, and it completely changed me. I will never listen to that record again without remembering how much it impacted me.
that was a lot longer than I though, Im not really expecting anyone to read this. It's just something I have wanted to say for a long time. I hope it made sense.
I have told this story before but I will do it again...When I was 8 years old I my dad died in a drunk driving accident in which he was the drunk guy. My mom and dad did a pretty good job at keeping their problems away from me and my sister.
After that all of these problems were front and center. All of my mom's family talking about what a screw up my dad was, and I didn't understand why.
By the time I was 12 I was a pretty angry kid, I got in a lot of fights, got in trouble a lot at school, and treated my mom like shit. I listened to a lot of metal...bad metal.
Anyways, my sister was 17 and she was starting to bring guys home when my mom was gone. The nights were pretty much spent with them making fun of me. Then one night my sister had a party and told me that if I left my room she would strangle me. Between playing Spin Doctors and Tupac the music stopped and this song came on. It was unlike anything I had heard before.
I left my room so I could hear it better. There was this kid arguing with everyone else "just listen, this band is so good". Everyone disagreed, except for me.
That song was called Generator by Bad Religion. My life changed forever.
Sinking into bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, Lagwagon, and The Queers would prove to have a calming effect on me. It was therapeutic. It probably saved my life. All of the fuck up kids I hung out with in middle school ended up becoming junkies in high school, some didn't survive. I found friends in punk rock. There was a special kind of motivation with the skate punk kids, of whom I would eventually become. There was a sense of community, identity, acceptance, and brother/sisterhood in the punk scene.
I have other magical musical moments (watching my mom walk down the aisle years later to "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys springs to mind), but Bad Religion's Generator probably takes the cake.