I Want A Range Life (Songs That Rock)
Graduating college is an odd experience. At least it was for me. I did it, shit, five (!?) months ago. Personally I couldn’t wait to get out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but part of me wanted to hang on to the incredible feeling of freedom one feels while in college. The oddness reached its boiling point when, for the last few weeks leading up to graduation ceremony, I stewed about how all the good times were over and it was time for the “real” world. In an ironic twist of fate, my very last night at school, the night before graduation, turned out to be one of the weirdest, craziest nights of all my four years in college. A nice way to go out I guess.
That night aside, the end of college was anti-climactic and left me with a lukewarm feeling all over. It did, however, give me time to reflect. As most college grads will admit, hindsight is definitely twenty-twenty. Analyzing the negatives is sometimes what I’m best at, but I made every effort not to think about all the dumb, irreversible things I did during my bout with academia. In order to avoid this inevitable action I gave myself a task to complete: make a list of all the music I started listening to in college. This would be a severe undertaking, but it would represent so much!!!!! Did I mention it would be in chronological order? So I worked on my list where else? during classes that had lost all impact on me many moons ago. Trust me, this was fun for me. It brought back so many memories, and it all started with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Let’s Face It.” Hearing the song “Rascal King” instantly brings to mind the smell of stale, cheap beer, i.e., piss. This album defined what partying in college was like for me my freshman year, an it always will. I’ve outgrown it now, listening to it is not nearly as fun, but it will always be around for me. Second semester and the summer of my freshman year is associated with Pavement’s “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.” My first exposure to this album dates back to the summer before when I heard it played before a Phish concert at Deer Creek. When I heard “Stop Breathing” and its remarkable and oddly psychedelic fade-out from the Creek’s amazing lawn, I had to know what I was hearing. No one around me knew, but when “Cut Your Hair” came on, Pavement’s brief brush with MTV-dom, I knew it was them (Yet another way Phish, however indirectly, influenced the music I listened to greatly).
I bought the album, but it lay dormant in a pile collecting dust until I unearthed it mainly out of curiosity. I had written them off too weird, sloppy sounding, etc. – basically, all the things that make Pavement great (and my favorite band to this day). Needless to say, the album spun in my head constantly for the next six months or so. The breezy elegance of “Gold Soundz” was the perfect background for the Spring-time, “Range Life” makes one long for sunny California.
moe.’s “Tin Cans and Car Tires” was released in the early part of my sophomore year. As a Midwestern boy going to school out East, I had a great appreciation for the hills surrounding my school. The band has often described this album as influenced by the peaks and valleys of touring the country, a “road” album I guess you could say. Either way it was the perfect driving music for Fall-time in Pennsylvania, as I spent countless hours driving through the hills with the windows rolled down and volume on 11. Al’s sweet Telecaster lines always bring back the feeling of driving my Jeep through the cool Autumn air.
The list goes on my teachers must have thought I was suddenly more interested in their class as I would sit in the back writing furiously in my notebook every album and song I could think of from the previous four years that held significance to me.
I soon found that songs were just as interesting, if not more, than straight albums. Dave Brubek’s “Take Five” the culmination of an evening that found me laying on my couch with the sun coming up while it was raining like hell. I swear the lightning went in time with the music or was I just imagining it? Crosby, Stills and Nash “Teach Your Children” my friend who only liked gangsta rap and techno occasionally showed his soft side when he would put this song on. It was the only song he liked that had nothing to do with computers. “Bling Bling” by rapper B.G. an absolutely awful song, but with some of the funniest lyrics ever. My friend actually explained the entire song to me once. Our friendship was never the same again. Ween’s “Mr. Would You Please Help My Pony?” will forever symbolize the peculiarities that exist between guys and girls no, the actual song doesn’t, just a time when I listened to it. But they are great lyrics.
Napster changed everything, though. First semester this year I got a new computer with a burner and a fast connection and I started downloading like crazy. Anything I heard of that was supposed to be good I tried out. My CD collection expanded by leaps and bounds. I felt dirty. Did I really need this much music? Amazing albums were being neglected. There was no album that defined this period, just a giant wall of new music. But Napster was shut down earlier this year and I’ve gone back to my ways again. The album that will always remind me of my last few weeks of college is Badly Drawn Boy’s “Hour of the Bewilderbeast.” There’s not much I can say about it except to hear for yourself.
College was a constant series of changes for me. All in a good way, I guess, I mean, I’ll know for sure in a few years. But the constant was music. And it changed with me. My tastes have changed, but there is an underlying theme to all the music I find enjoyable: it challenges me to think in a different way, but more importantly, it just sounds good.