The Boy Looked At Johnny
2003-04-14 17:36:52 (UTC)

Hey, indie-rock music geek, read this one

I think I'd like to talk about records today.

There's obviously dozens of records I love, but I'm
thinking today more about the really important ones, the
ones that are so crucial to a certain time and place
because of how you felt when you bought them, or what you
were doing while you were listening to them, or how you
hear them later and either want to start crying or dancing
or both, simultaneousoly. Those are the records I'm
thinking of.

There's been a few. Funny thing is, some of them aren't
really that great. I don't even at least one of them

"Singles Going Steady," by the Buzzcocks might be a start.
When I got my car, when I was 19 or so, I only had three
tapes: "SGS," the Ventures' greatest hits, and "Dig Me Out"
by Sleater-Kinney, with the songs randomly taped out of
sequence. They remind me of driving around at night,
aimlessly, just to get out the dorm, maybe going on dates
with scary southern Indiana girls I'd met online. Kind of
lame, but really, I was a sheltered teen. It was my first
time really being on my own. I appreciate that.

"Moon Pix" by Cat Power is much more hard-hitting
emotionally, though. That's the soundtrack to age 20,
really. More driving around, but that's when I got my first
apartment at 2001 Bardstown Road, which I have written
about in the early parts of these pages quite extensively.
That was me and April's favorite record, we played it all
the time. The best times we had together -- kind of few and
far between, in retrospect -- were accomponied by the
lovely shaky crooning of Chan Marshall. Another record that
take me back to that time is Blonde Redhead's "Melody of
Certain Damaged Lemons," which I'd bought down the street
at Ground Zero and which I played a lot. I don't think I
have it anymore. I played Slant 6's "Inzombia" a lot at
this time, too, and it remains one of my all-time favorite

So thre breakup record was Travis' "The Man Who." Which is
weird, because Travis is always lumped in with bands I
really hate, like Coldplay, Idlewild and Radiohead, that
sort of whiny English school of sad-pop. But I don't know,
it's a great record. April and I broke up in October of
2000, and it was a bleak, gray, cold time of year. Totally
awful. I'd mope around the apartment, stay in bed, drive
around aimlessly, sort of zombie-like. The Travis record
was a great soundtrack for that -- it was really miserable
and depressed, yeah, but there was such a sweetness to it
that worked beautifully. In the end, it was a pretty
uplifting record. I never listen to it now, but I could
never sell it. It's like a religious artifact.

Roseanne used to play stuff like the Magnetic Fields and
the Smiths when we were together. It worked very well at
the time, but after we broke up it sounded like poison. I
still hate hearing MF's, and it took me awhile to
rehbilitate the Smiths. She liked Weezer, too, and I hadn't
really been into them -- when everyone else was cultviating
the cult of "Pinkerton" in high school, I was listening to
the Stones and Zeppelin and starting to wander into the
Velvets and Big Star a little bit. Anyway, after we broke
up, there was another depressive period, and I was still
over in the Bardstown Road apartment. A the same time the
green Weezer record came out, and there was a lot of hype
about it; remember kids, this was pre-Strokes and there was
no good rock music in the mainstream, or even a lot in the
underground. So I bought it, and really just absorbed it,
listened to it daily. It fit my mood perfectly. I would
read Roseanne's weblog at this time, and she'd be talking
about it, how much she liked it, and at the time I would
just want to close my eyes and imagine us listening to it
together, sort of torturing myself. So you can
see, perhaps, how the manifold miseries of Mr. Rivers Cuomo,
like in a song like "O Girlfriend," would fit the
zeitgeist like a glove: I mean, read the lyrics yourself, bub:

Sigh. So this went on for three months, probably. I really just
burned the record out, to the point where I'd listened to it so much
I didn't need to listen to it anymore because it was so deeply
ingrained. I think I sold it eventually while in a financial tight-
spot. I'm not really a Weezer fan at all -- they're OK, sure, but I
don't own any of their other records and woulnd't necessarily plan
to. Maybe "Pinkerton" down the road, when I have the money to
assemble some sort of "definitive" record collection. But insofar as
the green album is concerned, it's just that it came along
at the right time and did the exact right thing. It was pretty
disposable in retrospect, but there's no shame in that. Disposable
pop is absolutely vital to this boy, and I thank Weezer for lyrically
living out the worst of my unhealthy emo-boy fantasies for me (to an
extent, anyway, but look at that link above again and be convinced).

Later through 2001, through that summer up through moving into the
Birchwood apartment I played the first Stephen Malkmus record and the
first Strokes record a lot. The Malkmus record was a constant
companion, and the Strokes record -- this sounds so very tacky, but
bear with me -- was just a revelation. It came along at a time where
I figured it was time to get my shit together, stop wallowing in
misery and clean up my apartment and try to act like a functional
human being again, so while I stripped carpet and painted the walls
and hung Christmas lights around the perimeter of the ceiling I
played it, opver and over. No one will admit to liking the Strokes
now, and the whole "garage rock" hype-machine that the Strokes helped
midwife is roundly drubbed by critics and indie snobs alike, but it's
really hard to overstate how exciting that record was when it came
out -- independent music, hell, most kinds of music had seemed so
boring for so long, and the Strokes, for all their NYC '77 rip-off
moves and silly posturing and prep-school fuck-upedness, seemed
really thrilling, really vital. The songs were tight, fun to sing
along with, fun to dance to, and there was a very attractive
vulnerability at the core. Hell, it wasn't a lot different than the
damn Weezer record, both sonically and ideologically: Rivers Cuomo
and Julian Casablancas are both heart-on-sleeve boys pining for
failed romances, but Julian, unlike Rivers, is filtering his lessons
not through a depressive haze, but rather through the filter of his
own idiotic, drug-addled slacker hijinks. Rivers is moaning at you
from the back of a dark bedroom playing old English mope-rock and
Brian Wilson records and downing Prozac by the handful, whereas
Julian is recounting his tales to you over a Heineken at a shitty bar
at three in the morning while the Velvets play on the jukebox and
you're both drunk enough to be a little depressed, but not depressed
enough to not want to keeo pumping quarters in the jukebox until
you've made it all the way through "Loaded." Julian's way seemed more
productive at the time, and complemented my general mood. And I'm not
sure that if the record had come out at another time, like when I was
younger, in my late teens, or older, like 24 or 25, I really would
have cared as much. It's a record for 22-year olds, basically,
perhaps not timeless in the way that "Loaded" is, but definitely OF a
certain time in a person's life. That had a lot to do with it, I
think. Consequently, I played it a lot, saw them live to confirm it,
and unlike a lot of these records, I still throw it on pretty
frequently. I've become a kind of Strokes apologist, and by
extension, a "garage-revival" apologist. Not the most enviable
position for a presumed snobbo like me to be in. Strange the way it

Oh, this is so monumentally self-indulgent. Why all the talk about
records, Andy? Why the dry rehash of events past? Why not tell us
what's really going on in your life right now? Ha ha! You jerks!
There's nothing going on.

And this record business has got me fited up. I'll finish the recent
post-Strokes history later on. Then we can talk about the Stratford 4.