An album to “Fall” for…

There are many great fall albums. This time of year is one of my absolute delights. Cool, crisp mornings (where I don’t have to scrape the car windows, of course)…the anticipation of wearing my 20 eyelet Docs in either black or brown, depending on my outfit…and my playlist. Playlist, to me, means the jumble of actual compact discs that line my office or my car. Yes, I do listen to Pandora and Spotify…and, more importantly, the record player my grandfather gave me. I could upgrade. I do want one of those lovely record your vinyl to CD and cassette-dealies, too. But there is a beauty in listening to my vinyl on the same record player my grandpa listened to his Beethoven or Daniel O’ Donnell or the Irish Tenors.
Currently, as I planned for one of my four college courses that I’m teaching this term (along with a part-time library job) I needed music. Here was a little self-conversation I had, as I picked up my Mumford & Sons Sigh No More vinyl I got from my husband last Christmas. “Yes, I like you, Mumford, but…not this morning. Fall. Hmm…aha!” I plucked Pearl Jam’s Vs. on vinyl…(go ahead, say it, it’s a fun alliteration. All unusually lettered alliterations are fun to say: versus on vinyl)…and put it on the turntable.
Why this album? Well, you know I’m an ENORMOUS FAN of the band. But this particular album reminds me of the Halloween where I realized I was too old for trick-or-treating and too young to take any little kid down quiet streets of the calm little neighborhood where I grew up. Mom was working two jobs to support us and Jeremy was always getting into some madness. But that night, he was there with me. I wanted to pass out candy to the little kids so I kept the porch light on, but didn’t dress up. I was a little depressed because I was not quite 12 years old and feeling the weight of young adulthood staring at me with zombie eyes.
Pearl Jam’s Vs. had been out approximately 11 days, so I brought my boombox to the living room and Jeremy and turned it on. At the beginning of the evening, a nearby neighborhood prankster came by—Aaron—and Jeremy gave him all the candy in the bowl and slammed the door and turned the porch light off. We kept the living room light off and sat in the corner listening to Vs.
I think I cried. Aaron was intimidating but had so many problems. He ended up imprisoned (I think it was drugs) and hung himself in his cell. That was half a decade after that night. I couldn’t tell if Jeremy was his friend or was afraid of him, but you never did know with Aaron. He was the type of kid who hocked “luggies” on the bus floor and then (sorry) inhaled them back up just to gross out the kids on the bus (it worked.)
I’m quite sure I cried, come to think of it. How was Aaron, age 14, trick-or-treating, if I couldn’t? I’m sure I could’ve but it didn’t seem fair with all the other little kids out there. And now Aaron made off with all our candy. Jeremy comforted me by sitting next to me (even though I was pissed off at him) and listening to Vs. “W.M.A.” creeped me out that night—it would have been the last song on side A—but by the time “Indifference” came on I knew, without knowing, that I was depressed. My absent father had once said to me, “I feel no love for her, no hate for her—only indifference.” He was referring to his 3rd wife (the one after my Mom) who was certifiably insane and had made threats to his—and our lives.
Hearing my fab five roll out “Daughter” and “Indifference” made a big difference to me. “Daughter” for one, helped me cope with an absent father. “Don’t call me daughter—not fit to—the picture kept will remind me…” and “how much difference does it make?” All this beautiful rhetoric with a fall backdrop of genius musical accompaniment soothed my angst. When I felt angsty, I could always just belt, “Drop the Leash! DROP THE LEASH!!! Get outta my (lucky) FUCKIN’ FACE!” I always thought he said the latter, or maybe I just wanted him to. So that’s what I sang along with him.
But this album isn’t all melancholy. The band delivers a message about gun control with “Glorified G” and makes the listener smile through the pain with “Dissident” because who can resist Eddie’s crooning to happy guitars, “he couldn’t hold on…he folded…a dissident is here…”
If you don’t own it, get it. My other recommendations are:
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
Radiohead’s Pablo Honey
Stone Temple Pilot’s Core
Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine
Hole’s Live Through This
And, if you are a fan or can tolerate Oasis, What’s the Story, Morning Glory? (I say that only because people either love or hate them. I like some of their music, but hi, you’re not the Beatles, okay?)
Until next time, I’ll see you in my “Rearviewmirror.”
Blessed be and rock on,
P.S. Thanks for listening.


Under the Bridge downtown…

…is where I first realized what hormones were. What? The song is about heroin, Rachael. Right, but it premiered as young Rachael (she was 9 years, 10 months old) discovered her ideal physically attractive man. Flea. No, I’m just kidding, really. Flea is an awesome dude, but young Rachael, even before Eddie Vedder stole her heart, found her heart in other parts of her body when she saw Anthony Kiedis in that slow running scene in the video where he’s wailing, “gave my life awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay–ayeee-yeah….”

Everyone pause and take a deep breath. That’s better. Now I think I can coherently write again. In all honesty, yes, I realize at age 32 years, 9 months and 17 days today (but who’s counting?) what that was all about for me. I remember sitting under a shady grove of pine trees outside my old apartment in Blacksburg. In fact, I laid back onto a bed of pine needles to enjoy the sound of the song floating from a neighbor’s kitchen window. I went back to that spot to write sometimes, but this particular day I was melancholy. We were moving from my hometown to the town just next door. But when you’re almost ten and still in elementary school that is approximately equal to 1,005,342 miles away.

I suppose I felt the despondency and lament of the song. At the same time, when I watched the video and saw Anthony Keidis running to an amazing accompaniment, I realized what kind of man my young self (and all my older selves) was(were/still am) attracted to. Long, flowing brown hair. Nice arms, not too big. Deep and thoughtful eyes.

It is no surprise that I’d fall for Eddie and eventually, my husband, Tom.

I remember, too, from the video, his giant tattoo on that muscular back. When my best friend, Lindsey and I went to see them in concert in 1999 with the Foo Fighters (an incredible show except that the crowd was lame and Dave Grohl had to stop his show to tell them to behave—boo and hiss) how much I wanted to see his back tattoo. My wish was granted.

Eventually, I realized the move to Christiansburg was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It would take a while, but whenever I felt angst, I’d meet Anthony and Co. under the bridge across town. Soon, they introduced me to Eddie, Kurt, Dave Pirner, Adam Duritz and his gang…and suddenly, the city of angels was my friend.


Be well and rock on,