the shins will change your life

So the first trailer for “The Runaways” came out today.  I’m really scared for it and for K-Stew because, well, HOLY SHIT YOU’RE PLAYING JOAN JETT.  I mean, is there any way she won’t screw it up?  I’m skeptical.  But at least the trailer has “Cherry Bomb” in it.

Anyway, there is a point to this post.  Stick with me.

There are a handful of seminal music moments in my life, moments where music left an indelible mark and, to quote Garden State, totally changed my life:

  • Hearing my dad sing “Michelle” and “Yesterday” when I was a kid, which made me realize how beautiful music could be.
  • The first album I ever bought with my own money was Beastie Boys’ “License to Ill” in 1987.  I was 9 years old.  I spent the next few weeks listening to it non-stop in my room.  I still remember lying flat on my belly on the ground with a yellow notepad, writing down all the lyrics and memorizing them.  It was the first time I truly became obsessed with music.  It also instilled my love for a good basic beat.
  • Hearing Erasure’s “The Innocents” in the back of my cousin’s car in 1989 while they were on the way to drop me off at the airport.  I had never heard anything like that.  I remember wanting my cousin to drive slower so that I could keep listening.  When we finally got the airport, they dropped me off, and I started walking towards the terminal when I spun on my heel, sprinted back to my cousin’s car, told them to roll down the window, and asked them for the name of the album.  The minute I landed I begged my parents to take me top the mall so I could buy it.  I ended up having to go to over 5 music stores before I could find it.  And thus began my career as a music chaser.  And a fag hag, apparently.
  • In 7th grade I was good friends with this girl named Sarah.  She was your cookie-cutter white kid from the burbs.  By the time 8th grade started, she had shaved her head, started wearing combat boots, and carried around a Fugazi lunch box.  She was easily the edgiest person at our school.  One day we were outside waiting for our respective rides and she had her Walkman on.  It was cranked so high that I could kind of hear the music.  It sounded like the stuff that I was too scared to listen to.  But I asked her if I could listen and she let me and it was the last minute of “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways.  I had never heard anything like it.  That song allowed me to discover Joan Jett and paved the way for my love for female fronted rock groups and general chick-badassery.
  • For the most part, my high school years were a musical black hole.  I listened to what my friends listened to, which was hip hop, R&B, and country.  Thankfully, Green Day’s “Dookie” and Weezer’s Blue Album rescued me in 1995 and made me realize that while I’ll always be able to appreciate other genres of music, I’ll always be a rock girl at heart.  And love nerdy dudes in plaid shirts with plastic glasses.
  • “Wonderwall”, 1995.  It made me pick up a guitar and learn how to play.  As for “What’s The Story (Morning Glory)”, it played on loop in my dorm room for the entirety of my freshman year.  Not sure my roommate was happy about that.
  • My sister is six years younger than I am so while I was in college, she was getting into the Backstreet Boys, Britney, NSync, etc.  On one particular afternoon I was giving her a lot of crap for liking BSB.  Yes, I was being my typical college music snob self.  Well my sister had enough and in tears she said this: “Can’t you understand that sometimes you just listen to music because it makes you happy?”  And in that moment I felt absolutely horrible.  But her comment has always stuck with me and it’s pretty much responsible for me liking and defending good pop music.  That comment is the reason why to this day, I’m not a music snob.  People should listen to whatever they like.  Unless it’s Creed.  Or Nickelback.  Or Black Eyed Peas.   Ok, so I’m still working on it.
  • I was interviewing a guy for a job at my firm in 2003.  He was lame.  He went to Yale, which meant I already hated him.  And the interview was so damn boring.  But I noticed on his resume that he was a freelance music critic.  So towards the end of the interview I asked him what the best album of the last year was and he recommended a band from Albuquerque called The Shins.  I ordered the CD and the rest was history.  I hate to go all Natalie Portman, but the Shins really did change my life.  It was a different sound and it pulled me back into indie music and reignited my fire for “the chase”.
  • The first time I heard Arcade Fire’s “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” I had to pull the car over and listen to it on repeat a good 10 times.  I’ve been chasing that high ever since.  It’s the reason I will still read through 15 music blogs a day in hopes of finding that next artist that will change my life.

So was that sufficiently music nerdy?  Sometimes I wish my memories were “deeper”.  Like I could cite cooler bands or older bands to up my cred.  But alas, I’m just me.

Anyone else have any good stories?

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3 responses to “the shins will change your life

  1. It’s funny you mention Arcade Fire, because my ex and I were talking about them about earlier this morning… he says he’d put ‘Funeral’ in his top 10 desert island picks, while I think it’s the ONLY album I’d take. I seriously love them that much, and I told you “Neighborhood #1” is my all-time favorite song ever.

    But anyway, the first time I ever heard them was this night in college, where he and I and two of his roommates got really messed up – they on homemade martinis and I on White Russians. We watched ‘Smoky and the Bandit’ and ‘Smoky and the Bandit 2,’ punched some holes in the wall, burned some stuff into the toilet… and the night ended with the 4 of us slow dancing to ‘Crown of Love.’ The whole night was just us living the hipster life. My whole college career was one big fucking hipster cliche, really.

    (And I feel like I ought to mention that was not my style, to get raging drunk. Just twice.)

  2. I wish I had good music stories! I mean, when I was 8 I had to save up my allowance and wait until my friend’s Mom took us to the mall to sneak away and buy Madonna’s “True Blue” album because my mother wouldn’t let me have it. But, uh, that’s not very deep.

    And when I was 6 there was a McDonald’s commercial with a little girl playing Fur Elise at a piano recital, and I begged my parents to let me take piano lessons so I could learn to play it. They let me start just after my 7th birthday, I played Fur Elise at my first recital and… commence 10 years of piano and voice. To date, music is the only thing in my life I’ve done where I had no interest in performing or competing, I just loved to play.

  3. It’s odd. The more I think about it the more I realize that if I were to write a memoir or something my entire life could be distinctly divided into chapters according to these “musical moments”.

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