Thursday, December 22, 2011
For Dianalee... with a big thanks to friends past and present!
Dianalee- Nerf Herder IV
I Wanna Thank You- Sloan Navy Blues
Blame It On The Kids- The Pets Misdirection
Formal Letter- The Laughing Dogs Meet Their Makers
Second Hand Man- John Keaney Nashpop: A Nashville Pop Compilation
Ash & Earth- Velvet Crush In The Presence Of Greatness
New Promotion- Hubble Bubble Hubble Bubble
Everywhere- Translator The Best Of 415 Records
^Thank U Very Much- The Scaffold Thank U Very Much
Can't Hardly Wait (Tim Version)- The Replacements All For Nothing
Lipstick- Advertising Advertising Jingles
One Look At You -The Smithereens 2011
Rustle- The Tories Wonderful Life
If It's Not Too Much- The Keys The Keys Album
*Thank You- Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias Heads Down, No Nonsense, Mindless Boogie
*Thank You- Barry & The Remains The Remains
*Thank You- Lost In Kostko Extended Play
*Thank You- The Redwalls De Nova
*Thank You- Descendents Everything Sucks
Heaven- The Del-Lords Johnny Comes Marching Home
On Every Page- Jimmy Silva & The Goats Heidi
Niteliner- Urge Overkill Rock & Roll Submarine
Good As Gone- The Vacant Lot ...Because They Can
Out There In The Night- The Only Ones Special View
Runaway- The Adicts Smart Alex
>Thank You Friends- Big Star Big Star's 3rd: Sister Lovers
I Can't Do Anything- X-Ray Spex Germ Free Adolescents
Thanks- Arrows First Hit
^Power Pop Peak: #69 Billboard Hot 100 2/10/68
*SacroSet: Songs Called "Thank You"
>Power Pop Prototype: 1978
"Thank You For The Music," ABBA really hit the nail on the head with that one:
So I say
Thank you for the music,
the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it,
I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me
Not a day goes by that I don't listen to or think about music- it has been a constant presence in my life. My friend Ted Maguire called in tonight and when asked what he was thankful for, "music" was his immediate response. I've known Ted since high school and it was music that brought us together. Same story with my friends Frank and Jim. (In fact Ted, Frank and Jim were also the first people I was in a band with back in the Maguire's basement in Duxbury.) Cousin Rich is a blood relative but music has always been our common language as well.
The bands I loved were a huge part of my identity growing up. My music tastes painted a picture of how I wanted to see myself and be seen by other people. I was a shy kid so I let the music do the talking. Rather than join the ranks of Springsteen and J. Geils Band fans, however, my friends and I loved The Ramones, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, etc. While our love of this music set us apart from 99.9% of our high school classmates, it also helped forge life long friendships. And really, how many friends do you really need?
Another important factor in my friendship with Ted, Frank and Jim was their rejection of drugs, alcohol and using the word "party" as a verb. This further distanced us from our high school peers. I had started drinking and smoking pot years earlier at age twelve but at sixteen I'd had enough. This lead to a falling out with my best friend Paul, which was hard because I didn't have many friends at school. I'd "quit" before (it was what you said for two weeks after getting busted by your parents), but this time it stuck, largely because I had started hanging out in Ted's basement. My new friends all had their own drunk stories but mocked Duxbury High School's drinking culture and our classmates who seemed to make obtaining/consuming alcohol their life's work (as I had six months earlier).
Interestingly, I've only known one woman who was as wholeheartedly devoted to music as Ted, Jim, Frank, Cousin Rich and I. One woman who could fiercely debate a band's worthiness or spend as much time in a record store. One woman who would fight her way up to the front row at a show no matter how gnarly the mosh pit. I met Michelle my first week at Emerson College in Boston. She made quite an impression: spiked hair, leather jacket, punk rock t-shirt, bondage pants, combat boots, and a f**k you attitude that could peel paint. Michelle loved hardcore (Discharge, Minor Threat, Battalion of Saints, etc.) which was new music to me at the time (I had Black Flag's Jealous Again, but that was about it). She was a sophomore and had been at all the 1981 hardcore shows at Gallery East and the Media Workshop. The local hardcore scene received national exposure the following year with the release of the album This Is Boston, Not LA on Newbury Comics' Modern Method label.
Michelle and I had a mutual friend named Howard, a ranting English contrarian sophomore. Just as he had turned his back on the music he brought from home freshman year (famously throwing a Spandau Ballet single out the 8th floor window of the Charlesgate dorm), Howard was done with hardcore a few months after I got to school. Luckily for me, I was there to stop further vinyl destruction and he gave me his singles by Minor Threat, SOA, Infa Riot, Anti-Pasti, Discharge, The Necros and a few other bands. I would see several of these groups play in the coming months, often buying more singles from members of the band out of their van after a show. It was very exciting taking the T out to some middle of nowhere teen center or VA hall (hardcore was first and foremost all ages music) with Michelle, Howard and a few other friends to see some band tear it up. Minor Threat were the best, The Meatmen were the funniest and Boston's Proletariat were the most intense.
I doubt I would have had the strength to keep my high school no drugs or alcohol pledge in college if Michelle and Howard hadn't been devoted adherents to the Straight Edge philosophy introduced by Washington D.C.'s Minor Threat in 1981. I was inspired by songs like "Straight Edge:"
I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and smoke dope
'Cause I know I can cope
Laugh at the thought of eating ludes
Laugh at the thought of sniffing glue
Always gonna keep in touch
Never want to use a crutch
I've got the straight edge
and "Out of Step"
At least I can f**king think
I can't keep up
Can't keep up
Can't keep up
Out of step with the world
As the songs show, Straight Edge means no drinking, smoking, drugs or promiscuity. The funny thing was that by the time I got to Boston in 1982, a lot of the kids with Straight Edge X's on their hands on the cover of This Is Boston, Not L.A. had gone back to drinking and smoking pot. There were even rumors that Springa, lead singer of Boston Straight Edge stalwarts SS Decontrol, dropped acid. In any case, my new friends at Emerson remained loyal to the Straight Edge, helping me do the same. While I bet few use drugs, I may be the only one of my Duxbury or college friends that continues to avoid alcohol (admittedly I fudged it a little on the "no casual sex" tenet in my early 20's). I haven't thought of myself as "Straight Edge" in 25 years yet, while the superiority complex and preaching are long gone, the label pretty much still applies today.
Talking about my wife Jaime in the last post I referenced taking the "terrifying plunge into 'more than just friends.'" It's terrifying because the stakes are so high- if the newly defined relationship doesn't work out, you could lose a close friend. I learned this the hard way with Michelle at Emerson. My closest friend freshman year, by that Spring she wanted to take the relationship to the next level. I really cared for Michelle, just not in the same way but I went along with it anyway. Even writing this today, I have no idea why I did, because it was a colossal mistake. Over the summer I brought her home to Duxbury and got a stern talking to from my father about my "foul-mouthed girlfriend" (Dad was okay with her combat boots, but nobody drops the f-bomb in front of my mom). In August I broke up with Michelle, over the phone no less, and it was AWFUL. We tried to rekindle our friendship at school in September but it was awkward as hell, especially when I started seeing my next girlfriend Sue around Christmas.
The next year I heard Michelle's mom won the Massachusetts Megabucks lottery for $16 million or so. Despite my friend Carl's assertion that she was going to hire a hit man to kill me, I was happy for Michelle and her mother. About five years after this I was walking down Boylston Street with Jaime when she made a comment about "the homeless girl up ahead." Much to Jaime's dismay, I responded "oh, I used to go out with her." Sure enough, it was Michelle, though what Jaime had mistaken for "homeless" garb was actually high-end fashion. All kidding aside, I feel lucky that I don't have many regrets in life, but I'm ashamed of the way I treated Michelle. Who knows, had I been a better friend we still might be arguing about music today.
I've known many people who seemed to love music when they were younger (I've always thought of the musical "sweet spot" as age 16-24) but their interest in music has fallen off over the years. I know this is not the case with Ted, Frank, Jim and Cousin Rich and I bet the same goes for Michelle. Tastes may evolve but our overall passion and commitment to music remains consistent. So to all my Duxbury and Emerson friends I dedicate tonight's Power Pop Prototype, Big Star's "Thank You Friends:"
Thank you, friends
Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you
I'm so grateful
For all the things you helped me do
All the ladies and gentlemen
Who made this all so probable
Thank you, friends
I rejoice to the skies
Dear ones like you, the best I do
As far as can see my eyes
All you ladies and gentlemen
Who made this all so probable
Without my friends I got chaos
I'm off in a bead of light
Without my friends I'd be swept up by the wind
Thank you, friends (thank you, again)
Dear dear friends (I wanna thank you again)
You can download tonight's show below (Right click and "Save Target As")