What if Stephan Jenkins was your boyfriend?
If you based your answer as if his lyrics were a true reflection of what kind of man he is, you’d probably be able to consider yourself lucky. But the poem is never wholly the poet, the singer rarely the song. That’s not to say, of course, that pieces of us aren’t grounded in the art we create. (But there’s a danger in falling in love with the performers that make the music/art/poetry/whathaveyou because we are taken with what they’ve created. Take it from a woman who knows!)
Today as I walked in the park, Stephan Jenkins held my hand (well, it was actually my ear drum) and we felt the almost fall-like weather together. Geese sailed across the pond and I laughed at his overemphatic ululations about love and sex and the crazy state of the world. I sang aloud with him and didn’t care who heard me. The geese didn’t seem to mind.
For whatever reason, I call Third Eye Blind my guilty listening pleasure. I say guilty, though, because of the bold and creative discourse on sex that sometimes appears in the lyrics. Maybe, as I watched teenagers find an abandoned bench to make out or wait for a turn on the swings, I love them because they take me back to a younger me. I think I’d really like them even more if I was a dude. But for me, I am transported directly back to the front room of my first boyfriend, whose door was a sliding glass one and whose stepmother was a peeping pain in the ass. The band has a way of singing about passion and longing and sex in a tactful and tangible way. You find yourself torn between wanting to laugh about their candor, (or maybe because of the sexual elements) and standing back and saying, “Damn, that’s great stuff.”
It was 1997, the time of my life when Third Eye Blind’s debut album became the soundtrack to my first love and my first almost everything. It’s possible I can sing every single word to that whole self-titled album, from the opener “Losing a Whole Year” to the beautiful swan song “God of Wine.” In concert, they usually end with this one and Jenkins will empty a bottle of wine slowly (either onto the stage or into his mouth, depending on his mood) during the opening, while the guitars are soft and beckoning.
Don’t be so quick to judge them by the overplayed, buried, dug up, shot again and left for dead radio edit “Semi-Charmed Life” or worse, “Never Let You Go.” These radio cuts do nothing to justify the truly dense talents of the band. They are decent enough, but the radio has definitely overplayed them, and sadly, that is all that some listeners know of the band. Jenkins is able to mesh a hearty stockpile of freestyle singing and plain-old rocking out. One thing that allows them to stand free of the mainstream is their unique driving rhythms and Jenkin’s freestyle vocal tracks.
After 14 years, the band still has a following and goes on tour. Should they be in your neighborhood, you simply must see them. First, they give one hell of a show. They play for a long time, induce a lasting energy and good relationship with their fans and are just downright fun. When I saw them (only once, in 1998 with my best friend, Lindsey) Jenkins chided the dudes who were trying to crowd surf. “Man, don’t you know?” He called out. “Crowd surfing is for chicks!”
If you are just getting into them I do suggest you check out the debut album, but you might also check out the latest, Ursa Major. The album has great promise and gives me hope that they’re still alive and kicking.
I’ll admit at first I wasn’t too crazy about their follow-up album, Blue. But it is good in its own way. It was one of those albums that I had to put away and come back to, and sure enough, I learned to love it. If you are planning a sunny drive somewhere, you have to have Out of the Vein. One of my favorites, “Can’t Get Away” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc98m5-LnFM
finds me, hand out the driver’s window, surfing the wind and singing the “Bop, bop, bop ba-ba bop bahs” in the chorus of this one, with my boyfriend, Stephan Jenkins. The bops are pretty fun, I won’t lie; and as I cruise the cratered streets of Pennsylvania, I wonder if there is a deeper truth to the lyrics after all:
“And I walk alone
And the ghost that I carry is your
Tiger shark in azure blue
The vision that we had will all return to you, return to you, return to you.”
I have to give him credit for using the azure in a song so well.
When the parade of sun and clouds had passed this afternoon, I found the swing beside me empty but was comforted by the “Dao of St. Paul.” If you do nothing else, check out these tracks:
Bonfire (Ursa Major) http://3eb.com/discography
Dao of St. Paul (Ursa Major)
Slow Motion (Blue)
Motorcycle Drive By (debut / self-titled album)
Can’t Get Away
Or two, because I can’t help it:
And I know you’re bouncing up and down to hear about the Bouncing Souls show. I’ll get there when Stephan drops me off…thanks for your patience!
Be well and rock on,