Remembering the Dumb Moments That Shaped Me Through Songs
All the important moments of your life are soundtracked, whether you know it or not.
Built to Spill “Carry The Zero” & Hole “I Think That I Would Die”
I finally have my driver’s license. It takes me two tries. The first test ends 30 seconds after it starts when I smash into a parked car while backing out of the stall. The second time, I pass, but my first fail is still legendary. So, I finally have my license and I drive around stoned in my mom’s bright blue Astro van which one of my friends renames “The Juice Box." I have one cassette tape I listen to in the car. It’s a mix that was half-made by my much cooler friend who has put on things like Built to Spill, Elliott Smith and campy Billy Joel songs, while my half of the mix is all Hole songs. I’m really getting into Hole. Whenever I’m driving fast I seem to get to the part of the tape when “I Think That I Would Die” by Hole comes on. I drive even faster. When the song is over, I flip the tape and “Carry The Zero” by Built to Spill starts straight away on the other side. It’s perfect. For some reason, Built to Spill makes me want to drive faster than Hole does.
Misfits “Hybrid Moments”
I’m in grade twelve. My parents are out of town, but I have the keys to my father’s Ford Blazer. I’m using it way more than I should. This skateboarder guy who I let finger bang me in a hot tub weeks earlier keeps calling my parents house and telling me to come out to a party that is happening a couple blocks away. It’s almost 1am on a Friday night. I’m young and desperate for male attention, so I drag myself off the couch, into the Blazer and go to the party. The skateboarder guy acts like a jerk to me. It’s his immature way of trying to get me to care about more than I should. I run into a guy from my school (who I have always really liked) named Nic. He is also a skateboarder. He is really excited to see me and greets with me a big hug. It feels really good after the boy who invited me was being so cruel. Nic and I end up in the basement, drinking and blasting Misfits “Hybrid Moments” from the desktop computer speakers. He is hollering along with Danzig at the top of his lungs and lounging around on the furniture. We dance a lot. It’s the first time I’ve ever really had fun and felt comfortable around a guy. I think I give him a ride home, but don’t remember. We started dating a little while later. I would give him a lot of rides home for the next five years of my life.
Cat Power “He War”
I’ve moved from the city to go to school in a really sleep island town. I’m living with a woman getting her masters in mechanical engineering. She’s almost seven years older than me (I’m only 18), but she is taking a lot of anti-depressants because of her recent break-up with her fiancé. Our apartment is mediocre, but it’s my first apartment so I love it. In my room, I have a small CD player and a “dresser” I made out of cardboard boxes. My bed is two single mattresses pushed together and covered with a piece of foam. Before I get a desk, I do all my homework on my gigantic desktop computer hunched over on the floor. I listen to a lot of Cat Power. It takes me three months to figure out that I can control the heat in my bedroom so all through out the winter, I am freezing cold whenever I get out of the shower. I sleep, what feels like, 90% of my day and feel like garbage all the time. Going to class is hell because my body is always sore and tired. I assume it’s because I too am depressed. I lose my job at the bakery and feel like a total failure. I listen to Cat Power all the time. I learn all the songs on my guitar, but “He War” is my favorite. When I go home I see a few doctors. I find out I have had mono for a long time. The whole thing feels very Wayne’s World of me.
Nina Simone “Baltimore”
I’m 24-years-old and dating a DJ who is a lot better looking and well dressed than I am. We are doing a lot of drugs. Every drink I have past midnight has GHB in it. We spend the really late hours hanging out at our friend’s really nice apartment which is full of drugs, records and nice furniture. It’s a really comforting time. I’m doing every drug imaginable, but these really beautiful, wealthy people surround me. It’s magical, and fake, and feels like a movie I should not be allowed to be in. I always feel slightly off. One night, I’m lying upstairs on a little couch, high on MDMA, listening to everything around me. Someone puts on Nina Simone “Baltimore." It is the best song I ever, ever heard in my life. It becomes the soundtrack for MDMA. I demand it when we walk into our friend’s door at 2am and hover around the kitchen counter for our dose. The song catches on. It becomes the MDMA song. A bunch of rich white kids doing drugs in a nice apartment to a song about an impoverished, fucked up town across the continent.
Shocking Blue “Rock in the Sea”
It’s one of my band’s first tours on the East Coast and we have gone along with a hardcore band called Pollution. We are in a really nice van with a good stereo system and AC. I know we won’t have luxury like this again for a long time, so I’m soaking it in. One afternoon, I’m half-asleep in the back seat. The guitar player in Pollution, Sean, has put on a Shocking Blue album. All the songs are good, but I’m not freaking out about any of it, so I continue to half-sleep. Suddenly, “Rock In The Sea” comes on. It’s one of the smartest pop songs I have ever heard. I jolt up from my nap position and demand the name of the song. I learn a lot about music from Sean on that tour. He shows me Butterglove and Lush. I become obsessed with “Rock In The Sea” for the rest of the summer and play it so much I wear it out. I play it for everyone, as though it’s this really important manifesto that is going to change the world. It’s not. It’s just a great pop song.
To be continued….
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