Tom, Mark and Travis, The Real Blink-182:

Guess what? I LOVE your music. I was 14 years old when I first heard Dude Ranch. Wow! I felt indestructible when I listened to that album. The song “Dammit” hit the nail on the head. The angst, profanity and humor that made up all the songs continued to do so for years to come. Thanks to you guys, it’s the kind of music that I learned to love. My skateboarding years would not have been the same without you. 

Next up was Enema Of The State. I was so happy to see you guys getting the recognition you deserved, and didn’t even know what you looked like until I saw the video for “Adam’s Song.” You really started to show your true talent when you wrote that song. You could have fun, act childish, and still write really good, popular songs about the sad parts of life. Impressive! That was just the beginning for you guys.

Take Off Your Pants And Jacket!!! What the hell?!?! Did you guys know that I was going in to my senior year of high school and write it specifically for me? Seriously, I can’t thank you enough for that brilliant mixture of songs. I still listen to “Reckless Abandon” to this day and feel like I’m 18 again. “Stay Together for the Kids” was the start of my addiction to Tom’s voice and unique style of singing. “Shut Up” was extremely vulgar, but I love the song and the fact that you guys aren’t afraid to piss people off. 

How about the self-titled album—you know, the one that everyone was pissed off about because you actually changed the way you sound? Typical for that to upset people. You didn’t even completely change your sound—it was only slightly changed, for the better. Seriously, who didn’t like “I Miss You”? It was so catchy and dark. Love! Love! Love! that song. Who would’ve thought that Robert Smith would sing on one of your songs? What a legend! You guys gained even more of my respect by including a short, impressive instrumental song on the album. I still listen to the whole album without skipping any songs (which means a lot to me). 

I had to wait eight more years for another album. I waited patiently. I knew you were having issues, but still had all your other albums to fall back on. I was/am a HUGE fan of Neighborhoods. I’m glad I waited and didn’t give up on you guys. “Ghost on the Dance Floor” is like a grand finale at the beginning of an album. “Wishing Well,” “Snake Charmer” and “Kaleidoscope” take me back to my early teens—in a good way—and make me smile ear-to-ear. Bravo!

I don’t know enough about California yet. My wife bought it for me a couple weeks ago and I haven’t had the chance to listen to it. I’m sure I’ll like it. I’ve enjoyed all the music you guys put out, even if there are certain pieces missing. +44 was good, I had a huge crush on Boxcar Racer and Angels & Airwaves is my shit!

I wear Hurley clothing because you got me in to it, I started getting tattoos because you have them, AND I stood out in the pouring rain and risked my health to see you perform live. If I’m not your biggest fan, then I don’t know who is.

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Tom’s gray t-shirt is probably Hurley

Love you guys,
Gregory

I say “The Real Blink-182” because how dare you guys try to go on without Tom DeLonge. However, I’m not going to waste your time with bitching and moaning.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Dammit

Stay Together for the Kids

After Midnight

Dearest music of Kathleen Hanna and friends,

Outside my older brother’s door, in between sounds of Skinny Puppy and Cannibal Corpse there was a moment where I paused; I listened. Too afraid of teenage wrath that I may encounter, I stood attentively in the hallway. It was an earnest, fierce woman vocalist rocking out in a way I had not heard before; singing lyrics straight out of my feminist/activist/angry teenager heart! Later I discovered what I was hearing was a dubbed tape cassette copy of Kathleen Hanna’s first musical project Bikini Kill. The song was “Feels Blind” (still one of my faves).

I didn’t fully fall in love until later as I was incredibly uncomfortable with my own inner Riot Grrrl at the time. I truly have to dedicate this letter to my bro Duane. Without you dude, this letter would not exist!! I can say that for many of the tunes that I may write about in the future.

Bikini Kill made its way in and out of the soundtrack of my teenage years, following me thru years of punk rock shows in fire halls and crazy nights in dank and dark warehouse spots and church basements in Philly. Bikini Kill’s song “Rebel Girl” still gives me chills. When I landed in the state of Washington, birthplace of the Riot Grrrl movement, I would discover a whole world that Bikini Kill inspired.

It probably wasn’t until Kathleen created Le Tigre that my heart really exploded with resonance. My ears were kissed with this lovely sound of wild women making history (a collection of Zine writers, film makers and talented musicians singing their truth and social activism) in many different forms. One memory stands out. It was 2004 in L.A., and after seeing David Bowie (my other love) at the Shine auditorium, my husband Khenu and I made our way to an electro clash night at some club named Blue. We entered the club, hungry for good tunes and high from our Bowie experience. We were greeted by Le Tigre’s song “Deceptacon” blaring on the speakers and wild, uninhibited dancing followed.  I was reminded how this group made me dance my arse off as well as feeling like when I’m dancing to their music I’m in solidarity with other strong feminine voices.

Jump ahead to exactly one year later in San Francisco and I was blessed with the experience of dancing my arse off once again to Le Tigre and this time, right next to stage where Kathleen Hanna herself stood opening up for Beck! It was a perfectly odd pairing of a concert and the whole night was super rad. I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle that night I was dancing so hard. I felt like a Le Tigre, Riot Grrrl, I’m-In-love-with-Kathleen-Hanna cheerleader and was unabashed in sharing my love for them that night. The crowd seemed inpatient for Beck to play so my husband Khenu and I really had to represent our love! So there wasn’t the electro mosh pit that I had envisioned yet it definitely goes on my list of top-five concerts.

When the documentary The Punk Singer came out, I was even more inspired. I was impressed with how she was so vulnerable; sharing about her music and the inspiration being from a troubled childhood and trauma that unfortunately many young girls and women go through. The fact that she sings about it and then makes a movie where she is so straight up about the horrible struggle with her illness (she has Lyme disease) and her hiatus from music is really brave. It doesn’t hurt that her hubby Adam Horovitz makes some appearances (yay Beastie Boys!).

Kathleen’s latest Bust magazine interview continued her truth telling. She shared how working on her Julie Ruin project helped her establish an identity outside of her illness (go music therapy!). Right now the pearly colored vinyl of Hit Reset is sitting atop my record player.

Soon after buying the album, I drove into San Fran to meet with a dear friend that I haven’t seen for years. I was about to bring her the Bust magazine article to give her in hopes that the article could add to her courage and strength to continue to fight her disease. This friend has also struggled with the symptoms of Lyme disease and has been through hell and back. As I brought this up to her she smiled with that smile of recognition of a synchronicity. She had been feeling ill for a long time, and didn’t know for sure that she had Lyme until she watched The Punk Singer! Since Kathleen was so authentic about her illness, my friend recognized that she had the same symptoms and it encouraged her to get tested! One example of how Kathleen, being brave in sharing her unedited truth no matter how messy, touched a soul.

Using the words of the same dear friend, “I plan to marinate in this latest Julie Ruin album” until we go and see her perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco in October! I feel so grateful to be able to witness Kathleen’s music again and to do so along side a fellow strong female warrior!

In closing, being an expressive arts therapist I have been and always will be magnetized to people that sing from their gut and from wounded places in their heart and bear their truth to all of us struggling humans. I aspire to have the same outlet and fearlessness as I continue to combat my own personal illness. Listening to the music now for me is helping me to reclaim my body, continue to fight for the right to have presence in this society as a woman, own my strong feelings and creative voice.

Kathleen, you are my Queen! Thank you for sharing yourself – even the darkest parts. In doing so you have shown light into the dark places of me and in many.

With love and admiration,
Heather

“Singing is my life, and I have to do it, or I’m going to go totally bananas.”
Kathleen Hanna

Flashback Fives: True tales from a real-life musician

Along with our letters, we also publish “Flashback Fives”—a list of five moments when each writer fell in love with a song, album, artist, genre, et al. This list was submitted by Ezra, a transient fugitive who has secret hideouts in Oakland, California and Chicago.

One. I was twelve when I found a copy of Green Day’s Dookie lying around somewhere in my house. My older brother had bought it and lost interest quickly. As for me, I had never heard punk music before. It was the first band I truly loved as my very own, and I became ravenous for punk bands. Eventually I outgrew Green Day, but it took a long time, and that nineties stuff still sometimes grabs me and doesn’t let go all afternoon.

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Two. I wanted a guitar because a friend of mine told me punk was really easy to play, you just learn one chord shape and move it around on the guitar neck. My mom told me I could get a guitar under two conditions: a. It had to be an acoustic guitar, and b. I learned to play songs that she liked too, like Bob Dylan. I didn’t know who Bob Dylan was, really. She got me a cheap but good acoustic guitar and a book of chords to about twenty Dylan songs. Once I learned to play I agreed to learn one Bob Dylan tune to pacify her and then go back to my punk songs. The book was alphabetically organized so I decided to learn the first song, “Absolutely Sweet Marie.” It was from Blonde on Blonde and my mom had a copy. The song comes fading in like a freight train of tremendous energy, and Bob sings in an insane voice that was different than any singer I’d ever imagined, “Well your railroad gate, you know I just can’t jump it.” I realized something special was going on here and I devoured the whole album, became obsessed with it. That’s when I decided I had to become a great songwriter. It really wrecked my life.

Three. There’s no story here really, but when my friend Zach first played me his CD copy of the Pixies’ Doolittle, I was flipping out before the end of track 1, “Debaser.” I had never heard them. I loved them, I needed them. I still do.

Four. I was at some kid’s house on a Saturday night because there was going to be a reunion of my summer camp there. We were watching Jack Black host Saturday Night Live and waiting for the other fifteen-year-olds to show up. The Strokes came on as the musical guest and they were magnificent. They played “Last Nite” and later “Hard to Explain.” I got lost in Julian Casablancas’ wounded, searching eyes. I could see how much he felt as trying to pretend to feel nothing. At a time when I mostly listened to classic rock and assumed contemporary bands basically couldn’t be good, the Strokes were very much needed. But on some emotional level I connected all too deeply with the tension between their ultra-cool aesthetics and their troubled songs. They were my favorite band for years after that.

Five. Freshman year of college, I had a friend named Erin who knew a lot of bands I’d never heard of. She loaned me Disc 2 of the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs. I think she had mislabeled them and meant to loan me Disc 1. I was kind of skeptically listening to it and growing more and more intrigued, though not sure about their theatricality and unrelenting irony and cynicism. I remember it was during the song “Promises of Eternity” that I realized all in a rush, simultaneously, that a. Oh wait EVERY SONG IS BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN, and b. the sarcasm is actually indistinguishable from the deep, deep sadness and also somehow joy that draws Stephin Merritt to write songs. It’s all one sincere and deeply alienated worldview, I realized during that song, and I became a disciple of that wonderful band.

Magnetic Fields: Promises of Eternity

Dear Jeff Mangum,

It was Seattle 1999. Many days of rain and clouds led me back to the video store down the street from my house (they still existed then!). My love for film led me to bump into a fellow film and music obsessive who at first I called “video store boy.” As video store boy and I also both frequented a place called Cranium—a coffee house, another Seattle survival tool—we discussed films and then started to swap mixed tapes (yes these still existed then too!).

Geeking out over lattes and comic books and old-school toys at Cranium, I was handed the first mixed tape, and heard your song with Neutral Milk Hotel, “Oh Comely” off your album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. When you sing, “Thunderous sparks from the dark of the stadiums / The music and medicine you needed for comforting” it speaks to me of the time I saw you play live.

Fast forward to 2013—where my family and I lived and still live in Oakland, CA—when after a long hiatus (I thought I would never get to see you play) you announced the tour and your reunion with Neutral Milk Hotel and I saw you sing your heart out at the Fox Theatre. The words of “Oh Comely” literally came alive for me as the theatre was transformed into a psychedelic-indie-folk-punk church with everyone singing, crying and laughing in utter joy.

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It is so cliché, yet it was one of the most musically spiritual moments of my life. I felt I somehow knew everyone in the audience and I knew you too. To hear your raw, shaky, soulful, authentic voice filled with melancholy, hope and wisdom in real-time instead of on our record player at home or in the dark, damp basements of Seattle was a dream come true and a checked off box on my bucket list. Thank you Jeff for following your creative darkness as well as your creative bliss to flourish back in Ruston, Louisiana.

Backtrack again to the late 90’s in Seattle, as I struggled to get through school and find my place 3,000 miles away from my family in the never ending grey skies, your music was a golden thread to validation for being outside the box, for being able to see the deep, dark beauty of the world and for it to be okay.

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After playing your music on long road trips with my husband, he also became a convert. When I had the flu and gave his best friend my ticket to see you in Neutral Milk Hotel instead of solo, I knew he would represent my devoted love at your concert. My husband and his friend still talk about the amazing synergy of the horns (bagpipes too), the vocals, the audience love, the “thunderous sparks from the dark of the stadiums” to this day. They were so grateful for the introduction to your music.

I still am holding out to see you in Neutral Milk Hotel as part two of my bucket list. Please, please come back to the Fox Theatre in Oakland. I feel you may have gone back into your bear cave which I understand of course. How else could your brilliant lyrics be written? As in “Someone Is Waiting” on the album On Avery Island; “Someone is waiting to swallow all the halos out of you / As your face blows / Through my windows / Sending pieces flying all around the moon / And I love you / And I want to / Shoot all the superheroes from your skies / Watch them bleeding / From your ceiling / As their empty anger falls out from their eyes / All alone….” I know you need to continue to create yet I beg you don’t stay in your cave too long. Please don’t sequester your magic alone anymore, share it with the world and know you are loved.

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You’ve even touched the heart of my five year old son Kirin. He heard “The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One” come on today and he jumped up, left his Legos (what!?) and began to dance. After twirling and spinning and making up cool dance moves, we had a beautiful mother-son dance inspired by you. My nine month old Saoirse claps and smiles with her two teeth which is her way of saying “Keep on keepin’ on.” And as they say out here in Oaklandia, “You are my spirit animal Jeff Mangum!”

Your obsessed fan and admirer forever,
Heather

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Someone Is Waiting

Tip 1) Listen to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea from start to finish as it is a reflection on the Diary of Anne Frank. The album tells a haunting and creative story that is illuminated listening from the beginning to end.

Tip 2) Neutral Milk Hotel Pandora station is really enjoyable as you will deliciously swim in the sounds of Elliott Smith, Jose Gonzales, The Shins, Violent Femmes and so forth…

 

Dear Ben Folds,

There was a time—months—where I couldn’t get through The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner without crying. As a junior in college, there were several things I couldn’t get through without crying back then (the angst of puberty hit me very late—I needed your “punk rock for sissies” very much in 1999), but nothing really got me going like that album. I’d put it on in my bedroom while I attempted to write a paper, but the by time “Mess” was transitioning to “Magic,” I’d have my head down on my desk, sobbing quietly so my roommate wouldn’t hear me. You sounded so sad—my friends and I would say to each other, “Ben’s not okay,” our eyes bright with worry. You were simply “Ben” to us by then; we had all dispensed with formalities.

It feels like you’ve always been there as the background soundtrack to my everything, but there is a very bright line between Before Ben Folds (BBF; 1978–1996) and After Ben Folds (ABF; 1997–?). The first of your songs I ever heard was, like a lot of people, “Brick,” which was released right around my 19th birthday, and I have to be honest: I didn’t love it. A freshman in college, but not yet quite given over to the indie rock nerd I would become, I listened to the hard rock station in Pittsburgh almost exclusively and groaned every time your sad, slow song came on. Was it about abortion? Maybe? Did it matter? I didn’t know. Over Thanksgiving break, I went back to work at the flower shop where I spent most of high school working, and the most unlikely person answered those questions for me. My boss’ boyfriend Jim, a big lovable guy who listened almost exclusively to classic rock, defended “Brick” to me when it came on the radio. Fifteen years older than me, maybe the lyrics hit him in a place I couldn’t yet fathom. Or maybe he just had better taste. Whatever it was, Jim made me take a better listen to you. Thanks, Jim.

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I don’t remember when I bought my first Ben Folds Five album, and I can’t remember if I bought Ben Folds Five or Whatever and Ever Amen first, but it doesn’t really matter because I fell in love with you head over piano-rock heels. By summer 1998, I was watching you at the Y100 FEZ-tival in Camden, NJ, completely mesmerized as you slammed your piano/drum stool, against the front of your piano, hitting the keys so hard at the end of “Jackson Cannery” that all 10 years of piano lessons in me winced. You were an animal that warm Sunday afternoon in June. I loved it.

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I fell for you all over again when you released Rockin’ the Suburbs. Oh, I mourned hard when I heard that Ben Folds Five had broken up. But then! Then there was this gift of your solo album and suddenly it was all going to be okay. I think I listened most obsessively to this one; to me, it represents growing up in so many ways. I had just graduated from college and was working at my first of many dead-end jobs, living with the man who would become my husband. Rockin’ the Suburbs was released on September 11, 2001—do you ever think about that? At first I had to make myself listen to the CD, pull myself away from the news and conspiracy theories on the internet, but it became a balm of sorts to me during that time, those first notes of “Annie Waits” ringing out and lifting me out of whatever funk I found myself in. You sounded so much happier on this album; I was happy for you. It seemed like you were maybe finally settled, wife and kids. I felt myself sliding into that stage of life as well. Four years later, my husband and I had our first dance at our wedding to “The Luckiest.” We sang “Still Fighting It” as a lullaby to both our sons when they were babies.

As with all love stories, there are ups and there are downs—I don’t have to tell you that, do I? Has anyone ever taken you to task over “Bad Idea?” It’s the only song of yours I refuse to listen to and won’t let my kids hear. The R-word, man. Why? I get that it was 1996 and things were different, but even when I first heard the song during that wretched movie it was in I cringed. Now, as a parent of a kid with special needs, I just can’t even, you know? I once interviewed Adam Horovitz when he and Amery Smith were touring as BS 2000 and asked him what he thought about all the misogynistic lyrics the Beastie Boys wrote. It wasn’t a terribly original question, but he still answered it passionately, saying he was embarrassed by his younger self and regretted those songs and that they would never perform them live again. I don’t think you perform “Bad Idea” anymore but have you ever been asked about it? What would you say?

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Ben, I feel like you and I have grown up together, despite you being 12 years my senior. I haven’t even gotten to your other solo albums or the recently reunited Ben Folds Five record (record! Good work, you!), or So There (I’m getting into it…slowly) or your TV appearances (bad fan; I haven’t really watched much). Your music has matured as you’ve gotten older—the last time I saw you play it was in front of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (it certainly made me feel mature watching that performance), and I recently watched an interview with you on CBS’ Sunday Morning (because I’m at a stage in my life where I religiously watch CBS’ Sunday Morning)—but it always manages to weave itself into my life in ways the girl who hated “Brick” could never have imagined. Thanks for being with me all these years.

With love,
Jenn

P.S. I once watched a karaoke DJ in the Denver, Colorado suburbs absolutely and un-ironically kill it on “Rockin’ the Suburbs.” You know that growly part at the end? He was the embodiment of it. I think you would have loved the whole thing.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Underground

Mess

Still Fighting It

Hello William,

Not sure if you remember me… I met you 20 years ago before a Foo Fighters show at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio… You were walking through the line of grungy kids before the show when my older brother, Jim, and I spotted you and yelled “Goldsmith!”, “You’re William Goldsmith!”, “You’re the best drummer in the world!” I hadn’t been that star struck since I met Sugar Ray Leonard at a Hills Department Store opening in the late 1980s.

You looked like a greaser with black dyed hair, a white t-shirt, and a black leather jacket as you shyly approached me and my brother… You smiled, we grabbed you, and you said “Holy shit! I didn’t think anyone knew me”. We continued to praise and grope you and you remained humble and were totally cool about the whole situation…. Thank you…

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To this day, you are still one of my favorite drummers and you have had such a lasting impact on me musically. When I am behind a drum set your influence on me is very obvious to other fans… Even when I am programming a drum machine it somehow sounds like I am copying your style.

Sonically, I have never heard a drummer who hits has hard as you while being so expressive and intricate with your rhythmic accents… I am a huge Brian Wilson fan and find you’re drumming layered and nuanced like a Beach Boys harmony. It tells a story on its own when you focus and isolate it within the mix…
While emotionally, I never experienced a drummer like you; For me, your drumming is raw and on the edge; you put everything into each down beat like a boxer trying to knock out it’s opponent with each punch.

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I have seen you in concert twice with the Foo Fighters. Once at the Agora Ballroom (above) and once at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio also in 1995. Me, my brother Jim, and our buddy Jon, made the trip from Pittsburgh. The first Foo Fighters’ album just came out and Shudder to Think was the opening band on that summer tour. We met Craig Wedren before the show because we arrived at the club four hours before the show… When the doors opened we rushed up to the balcony and stood our ground for about four hours because we knew that was the best spot in the venue to see you drum. No food, no water, no bathroom breaks for hours, no problem…

The highlight of the show was a new song that you started with four rapid bass drum beats to each snare hit… It was My Hero, which was not released and we had never heard it before that show. You left it all out on the stage that night… Thank you…

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Jim, Jon and I were dehydrated and disoriented as we wandered a supermarket in a strange town for food and hydration after the show. I grabbed the Taco flavored Doritos, Jim grabbed the Hostess frosted Donettes, and Jon grabbed a 1 gallon jug of generic blue drink. It was simpler and more carefree times; the days were golden and the nights sparkled with uncertainty, high hopes, and lofty Rock N’ Roll dreams of tour vans and small town takeovers.

Our Rock N’ Roll dreams never came to fruition. We grew up and apart and our musical relevance and coolness waned along with the rest of the Generation Xers… Everything we did and were that was not cool then became cool 10 years too late, which of course makes it totally uncool now…

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However, “classic” Rock N’ Roll music holds up and can bend the space-time continuum… Whenever I want to escape to a world where Rock N’ Roll Dreams still exist, I put on Rodeo Jones. The beginning of the song is somewhat benign… It is like a warm up, which is helpful as you stretch the tired and dormant muscles that hide and hold the stress and tension of your true self; your sixteen-year-old self… You begin to tune out reality around and inside you as the groove continues….

The race starts at the 1:11 mark… Your body temperature rises, your muscles stretch, and your stress leaves your body as you are floating above the colosseum of your life as the mighty Sunny Day Real Estate is taking a victory lap at the 1:35 and 2:50 marks…

I don’t want to get too negative (edit, edit, edit), but what Dave did to you was not cool and the Foo Fighters have not been the same band (edit, edit), since you have not been a part of it. I am sorry that this happened to you… You deserved more respect.
It’s a shame, since I feel that you bring out the best in other musicians you play with. I love Jeremy’s music, but it is different without you… It’s missing something… In SDRE, Nate was like Mike Mills was to REM; he had a pivotal role in the band; his bass lines were interwoven into the melodies and rhythms and became the melodies at times. However, in the Foo Fighters, Nate is more like Michael Anthony is to Van Halen; his bass is buried in the mix, he is simply a body on the stage and bassist for the band’s promo pictures, since Rock N’ Roll bands have bass players…

When you were the drummer for the Foo Fighters, you were the artist that brought out the artist in Dave like Kurt had before… There is more to Rock N’ Roll besides loud guitars, banging drums, and screaming men. There is sincerity, vulnerability, and strength. All attributes can be found in you and your drumming and for that you are my (Rock N’ Roll) Hero.
Matt

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Sunny Day Real Estate: Seven

Sunny Day Real Estate: Rodeo Jones

Foo Fighters: My Hero (Early Live Version)

 

To Adam Horovitz, Michael Diamond and Adam Yauch,

1992. I was twelve years old. My compact disc collection was infantile, my room still being full of cassette tapes. Music was always such a mood lifter for me that when I got grounded, it would be taken away from me and that was horror in my mind. End of the world, apocalyptic heart attack serious. In this day, akin to throwing away my hard drives and removing all wifi. Deserved, though, as I was a huge pain in the ass. That got the point across. The refreshment of getting back what means the most to you is indescribably elating. What meant the most to me in 1992, other than little girls and trouble, was my microcosm of a music collection. My first discs were Nevermind and Check Your Head. Monuments. 

Starters, I can still listen to this album today and thoroughly enjoy it. Not because of pure nostalgia, more so due to the awesome amalgamation that was/is Check Your Head. I had been a huge fan of Licensed To Ill and Paul’s Boutique, but never saw this coming. LTI was a trumped up braggadocio, bravado, intentionally in your face parade of hormones and hedonism. Paul’s was a total departure, and pretty much overlooked by most until further listening. Leaving Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin was a definite turning point, and opened up creative endeavors. The bouillabaisse at the end of that album should’ve prepared me.

As soon as the first track starts, I get goosebumps. You can feel the passion, angst, purpose, and love immediately. No major hip-hop acts were doing anything like this at the time. I was floored. So much so that I purchased this twice on VHS…

…and I still don’t have a copy due to pilfering after viewing, like the way loaning books means they’ll never return. The artwork alone sold me on this album. Browsing through music shops was much like grocery stores—design and packaging would lure me in. The design of this, prior to listening, made me want to grow up fast and create aesthetically pleasing things. Basically how you eat with your eyes first.

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This was one of those meals that looked terrific and did not disappoint. Everything was about shedding light and peace and happiness, whilst sounding badass. Which, in my opinion, is as essential as altruism. I did not have a chance to be present for this tour but got to see the Ill Communication tour with A Tribe Called Quest. I get the polar opposite of douche chills just recollecting that.

(This is a taste, although a few years later:)

The energy and uplifting spirit of your output, particularly on this album, inspired millions. Most importantly, myself. The letting go, and just doing what you felt like doing in your hearts, comes through incredibly. Kicking expectations and outside judgments to the curb, and letting each member coalesce, conveying much in such little time, resonates to this day. Harmony. The thing everyone searches for. Somehow, my budding naïve mind could feel that, and still does.

You made me grow as a person, and I am forever grateful.
Dan

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Pass the Mic

Gratitude

So What’cha Want