Tuesday, August 05, 2008

they were all in love with dying, they were doing it in Texas



just because this popped into my head today and I realized it's one of my very favorite songs of all time. It reminds me of Camp Wildwood, being a semi-weirdo wannabe skater brat, sequestered in a tiny Maine backwoods town in a sports camp for the summer. Normally, when not in camp, I was a devout MTV zombie, at the ripe age of ten years old literally absorbing every single detail of every alt rock video they played on the channel until I could call each one before the credits popped up in the left hand corner after about 10 seconds (REMEMBER HOW VIDEOS USED TO HAVE THOSE CREDITS??? THEY DON'T EVEN DO THAT ANYMORE!!) This was a good way to pass the time and a fun game to play with my orhtodox or Israeli babysitters Ronnie, Atara, Orit. They were always very impressed. So when I was at camp I had to gage what was going on by infrequent trips in camp vans to random field trips or sometimes sneaking a listen to my counselors radio or even heading up the radio station and browsing through all the CDs they had there (one of the only trophies I ever won there was Most Improved for Radio. seriously, if that's not the most embarrassing thing ever...I feel like I should go back in time and tease the younger version of myself). I have a vague memory of this song having its little moment in that summer, which would have been 1996, my tenth year of life on this planet. What isn't vague, though, is the impression the song has had on me since then. The chorus is so engrained in my consciousness I feel like even if I hadn't ever thought of it again I would still know every single word to it when I'm 80 years old like some sort of lullaby or collective consciousness folklore nursery rhyme. Whatever cultural currents or perfect storm of post-Nirvana, height of MTV-fueled alt rock surge this song caught in order to propel itself to #1 on Modern Rock Tracks I'm glad I spent my formative years gestating within them. Just the fact that the Surfers managed to make a hit song is enough to realize how fucking cool the 90s were. Something like this could never EVER be a "popular" song again. It's half-rapped but stream of consciousness and abstract. It's chorus is steeped in reverb. The whole thing breaks down into a swirl of guitar feedback and tape loops. But people were feeling it. Now we have Nickelback and Flobots. The shit they played on MTV back then sounded like this!!!! Is that mindblowing to anyone else but me? It's like how me and my friend Danny decided that the litmus test for your child's future drug use when we were kids should have been whether they enjoyed Ren & Stimpy: if they did, you got a pothead, mom and pop. Loving "Pepper" as a ten-year-old should have been a similar tip off for my parents, except not just for pot but for everything else, too.

22 comments:

Dan Reich said...

You should write a book entitled, "The Litmus Test for Your Child's Future Drug Abuse".

Chapter 1: Ren and Stimpy
Chapter 2: Reality TV
Chapter 3: Sponge Bob
Chapter 4: Pepper
Chapter 5: Blatant Ineptitude
Chapter 6: Wanting to live on Langdon Street

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