As usually happens on this blog, it’s time for this segment to take a turn towards the more personal. In the past few days I’ve posted songs from before my time, songs I never really heard as a teen, and songs that looking back at were just plain horrible. But today, I present to you the songs that I remember getting me through my very own teenage years.
It’s easy to look back at our adolescence and remember only the good times, and the music associated with that. Songs you listened to with your first girlfriend. The first album you bought. The song you listened to every day at the pool one summer because you were doing nothing, and it was awesome. But for most of us, the music also helped us cope with the horrible unfairness of those years. The girl who didn’t reciprocate that affection. The time you didn’t make the basketball team. Or any time you felt sad and moody – as all teenagers do.
This was the soundtrack to all of those times – good and bad. And while I can’t place each and every one of these songs, I certainly can place a bunch of them. I remember first hearing a live version of Crash Into Me, after having bought “Listener Supported” while on a camp trip to K-Mart. We got back to camp late, and I was laying in bed, checking out my new CD on my Discman. And when Crash Into Me came on – I was floored with how gorgeous it sounded in a live setting. I remember jumping out of bed and running out to the porch of the bunk to excitedly rave about the track to a music-loving counselor of mine.
And then there are songs like U2’s One, which I listened to on repeat all day on September 11th, 2001. It was one of the first times in my life that nothing made sense, and for some reason this song spoke to me more than anything on that day.
There was The General, which a former band member of mine (we were called “The Matzah Balls”, he’s now ultra-Orthodox and stopped listening to music) emailed me, urging me to download an mp3 player and play the song. That was my first taste of Dispatch, listening on Winamp on the family computer – with me absolutely wowed at this song.
I remember listening to 3AM while driving to Toronto, hearing Till I Hear It From You and In The Meantime on 99.1 WHFS, and Shimmer as we were walking to the Aerosmith concert from the parking lot, having missed most of Fuel’s set due to traffic.
And then there were those two singers who had voices that stood out above all the rest, and whose clear sense of yearning and loneliness spoke to me. Heart Shaped Box scared the hell out of me, both lyrically and vocally. And Release was just an outpouring of emotion that struck me as something special. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that it was about Eddie’s relationship with his father – but even independent of that information, I knew I was listening to a gem of a song.
These are the songs of my teens. Our songs – that got us through those crazy years. The music that took us from being children to adults.
Dave Matthews Band – Crash Into Me
U2 – One
Matchbox 20 – 3AM
Gin Blossoms – Till I Hear It From You
Spacehog – In The Meantime
Fuel – Shimmer
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
Pearl Jam – Release