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.


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