Skip to main content

Selling the Drama

Last week, there was a thread floating around Facebook about albums you listened to in high school. It was a fun rundown of records that made a significant impact on you, but there was another side to it.

Some Facebook friends rhetorically criticized selections on people's lists. They sarcastically thought a lot of people lied. "All these dudes my age trying to act like they didn't like Korn in their formative years," wrote the singer of a doom metal band I admire. I agreed with him, and I saw how the conversation turned deeper. There's a good question of, are you exaggerating the importance of these records, or are you being highly selective in your choices for fear of not being accepted?  

I do not claim to having some sort of credibility 20 years ago when I was in high school. I did not try to be the cool older brother or a know-it-all music critic to anyone. I would correct people on things from time to time, but my music listening was mostly a private matter. I was a budding music fan, finding my way through anything that came into my life. (I was still that way in college, but when I worked at Best Buy, I was the guy who didn't get why so many people liked the Titanic soundtrack, but I was not going to stop anyone from buying a copy of it.) My high school years were this: I liked Hootie and the Blowfish and Nirvana. I liked Pavement and Snoop Doggy Dogg. I liked Weezer and Metallica. 

Even though the CD was the format for owning music between 1993 and 1997, I spent more time listening to singles on the radio and seeing videos on MTV. (It sure was enjoyable to have my cousin share what he thought about songs I liked in high school.) I wasn't pulled into picking up Cracked Rear View, as I heard half of that record on a regular basis for about a year and a half. I was drawn more to the stuff that wasn't constantly on the radio or MTV. 

In writing my list on Facebook, I thought about albums I genuinely listened to many times on dubbed tapes in my 1977 Pontiac Catalina. Driving around Kingwood, I rarely turned on the radio in my car, preferring to focus on albums. All of these records stood out and resonated with me, and I'm happy to say they still hold up today. Here's the list.

face to face, Big Choice
Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Everclear, Sparkle and Fade
Sunny Day Real Estate, Diary
Foo Fighters, s/t
Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen
Jawbox, s/t
Ash, 1977
Therapy?, Infernal Love
Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

Did I own Bush's Sixteen Stone and Korn's first album, as well as Dream Theater's Awake and 311's self-titled album and Live's first three albums? Absolutely. Yet when it came down to impact then and now, those albums didn't make the list.

I wonder why people hide what they loved when they were younger. Is it the fear of being less of a music fan because your tastes were not ready for Neutral Milk Hotel or Chavez in the '90s? You have to look at the present. The people we are now (who have a pretty good idea of what we like and don't like) versus the people we were then. 

Why is it whenever we talk about our high school years, we get a little testy and defensive about what we liked? Moreover, who we were? I still struggle with this, but it is a lot easier now compared to a few years ago. I like to joke, if you think I'm emo now, it was even worse in high school.

I think it comes down to how honest one wants to be to an audience. Do you tell a version of yourself that is filled with context or without? Do you want to be selective, focusing on what matters instead of what all happened? Neither is wrong, but I have to wonder, especially if high school was many years ago, have you come to accept what it was?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

It's a Long Way Down

There was a time when I listened to Ryan Adams' music practically all the time. Back in 2001, as I finished college and tried to navigate post-college life, the double dose of Whiskeytown’s Pneumonia and Adams’ Gold led me to everything else he had made before. It was countrified rock music that spoke to me in a deep way, mainly on the musical front. I don’t tend to really pay attention to lyrics, but I connected with Adams’ lyrics about being young and perpetually heartbroken. I thought some self-inflicted mental pain about awkward and failed attempts at relationships put me in the headspace to relate to songs by Adams, as well as Bright Eyes. There was so much time and energy spent on anger and sadness directed at myself for things not working out, so I found solace in songs like “Harder Now That It’s Over” and “The Rescue Blues.” As it turned out, there was a pattern in my life: if I had a little taste of a feeling of sadness or anger, I could relate to those who had it

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catherine Wheel

Originally posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 Despite managing to release five proper albums, Catherine Wheel was one of those bands that always seemed to slip past the mainstream rock crowd. Yes, they got some nice airplay in their day, but people seem to have forgotten about them. You may hear “Black Metallic” or “Waydown” on a “classic alternative” show on Sirius or XM or maybe even on terrestrial radio, but that’s about it. For me, they were one of most consistent rock bands of the ’90s, meandering through shoegazer, hard rock, space rock and pop rock, all while eluding mainstream pigeonholing. Led by the smooth, warm pipes of vocalist/guitarist Rob Dickinson (cousin of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson), Catherine Wheel featured Brian Futter on lead guitar, Dave Hawes on bass and Neil Sims on drums. They weren’t a pretty-boy guitar band, but they weren’t a scuzzy bunch of ragamuffins either. Though the band hailed from England, Catherine Wheel found itself more welcome on American

Best of 2021

  Last year, my attention span was not wide enough to listen to a lot of LPs from start to finish. Too much went on in 2020 to focus on 10-15 albums, so I went with only a couple to spotlight. Well, 2021 was a little better, as I have a list of top four records, and a lot of individual tracks.  (I made a lengthy Spotify playlist ) So, without further ado, here’s my list of favorites of the year: Albums Deafheaven, Infinite Granite (listen) Hands down, my favorite album of the year. I was not sure where Deafheaven would go after another record that brought My Bloody Valentine and death metal fans together, but they beautifully rebooted their sound on Infinite Granite. The divisive goblin vocals are vastly pared-down here, as are the blast beats. Sounding more inspired by Slowdive, the band has discovered a new sonic palette that I hope they explore more of in the future. It’s a welcome revelation. I still love their older material, but this has renewed my love of what these guys do.  J