A Challenge!: Adam edition

Me, I’ll be playing the Beatles when I get home. Abbey Road, probably, although I’ll program the CD to skip over “Something.” The Beatles were bubblegum cards and Help at the Saturday morning cinema and toy guitars and singing “Yellow Submarine” at the top of my voice in the back row of the coach on school trips. They belong to me, not to me and Laura, or me and Charlie, or me and Alison Ashworth, and though they’ll make me feel something, they won’t make me feel anything bad.
from the novel High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

A while back, when I was first seeing/ranting about subway ads for High Fidelity The Musical, I went back and read through the book another time. I noticed that one thing Hornby really captures is the attachment and associations we make, especially with music — nowhere better than in the above quote by the protagonist of the novel Rob. And I started thinking about this concept, of music that inspires us when we’re at our best or comforts us when we’re at our worst. So I’m putting a challenge to myself and the other contributors to do a post on the album that does that for him/her.

For most people my age, the Green Day album Dookie (Buy It) will bring back a flood of memories of those awkward years of late elementary school and middle school, which is partially true for me I guess. My music of choice in 5th grade was a tape of Aerosmith’s greatest hits that my aunt had sent me as a birthday present and the Beatles tapes around the house (somewhere in the back of my brain, there were my Dad’s jazz albums too, only I wasn’t really focusing on those at the time). But I have a clear memory of being in a Geography Bee that year with two girls in my class and both of the girls wearing Dookie t-shirts on the same day. A fashion faux-pas at any other age maybe, but we were a little too young for all that. I was mainly confused as to how their parents let them get away with wearing a shirt with a picture of crap on it, and pretty much oblivious to the fact that I was missing out on something big music-wise.

So, it goes without saying that by the time I ended up buying the album (my sophomore year of high-school), it was already revered as a generation-shaping classic. Of course I’d heard the hits that were played on the radio, the ode to lazy and bored masturbation “Longview,” the exultant slum-living story of “Welcome to Paradise,” and the insane/dumb self-analysis of “Basketcase,” but I’d never actually heard the whole album all the way through. I listened to it over and over again that year, and it began to mean something more than just some silly pop-punk songs. It meant tearing around suburbia after school on Friday afternoons with my friend in his sister’s car with the windows down and music blasting. Having no obligations, no worries and nowhere to be. While it’s true that not all the songs on the album are necessarilly ‘happy’ songs, they’ve all got a playful, scrappy energy capped with a self-deprecating, absurdist’s sense of humor. The same breakneck speed and recklessness and freedom in those afternoons were in those songs, and somewhere subconsciously it carved itself out a pleasant little niche. And so when, a couple years ago, I hit a low point in my life and couldn’t bring myself to listen to any music at all, I could somehow listen to Dookie. I’d pop it into the CD player, and it made me feel something, but never anything bad.

Green Day – Burnout

Green Day – Welcome to Paradise

Green Day – Sassafras Roots

Green Day – F.O.D/All By Myself

posted by Adam

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One response to “A Challenge!: Adam edition

  1. Abbey Road is one of my favorite albums.

    Green Day’s good too though.

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