Over the past fifteen years or so, I have purchased an exorbitant number of albums. Although I frequently adopt a supercilious tone that suggests some sort of infallibility, I will be the first to admit that I have bought numerous CDs that are excruciatingly bad. I’ve paid money for some of the most abysmal junk ever offered as a viable work of art. So this is it: I’m outing myself. I’m letting you know that I know that what I have said, or might say in the future, could be absolutely senseless garbage. For instance, many of you, I’m sure, have owned Green Day’s “Dookie” or Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” at some point in your lives — I have. Additionally, I have had Green Day’s “Nimrod” and Sheryl Crow’s eponymous release and liked them (in my younger days, of course). I figure that if I want to keep prattling about my abhorrence of most of today’s new releases, I must admit that I have aided and abetted the process by which these releases have reached the shelves. In this season of renewal, I have chosen to cleanse my soul and finally confess my most egregious blunders.
Possibly the most hilariously humiliating example of this behavior happened in fifth grade when I became so infatuated with a popular song that I placed the album on my Christmas list. The lyrics verged on nonsense, but that could not stop me from singing along whenever the song came on the radio. When Christmas morning broke that year and I found the cassette among my new trinkets, my Sony walkman sprang into action and did not stop until my Duracells begged for sweet mercy. The song? “Informer.” The album? “12 Inches of Snow” by Snow. “A-licky-boom-boom down” indeed.
Now that we’ve all had a nice chuckle at the expense of my 10-year-old self, it’s time to get serious. In the words of the Catholic Church, that was venial, and now it’s time for the mortals. Until I was about 16, I participated in some of the most grotesque, shameful and shameless instances that good old-fashioned conformity had to offer at the time. I, who have incessantly cursed the banality of jam bands, received Phish’s “A Live One” for Christmas six years ago. “Chalkdust Torture” was my favorite song, probably because it was the shortest. Although this may not appear to be strictly conventional, I also accepted Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash” that same year. IT’S TRUE. Many times I lain in bed listening to “Tripping Billies.” This is perhaps my most deplorable admission, and I cannot tell you how exhilarating it is to get it off my chest. All I can say, dear reader, is that I have plunged into the farthest reaches of hell and emerged relatively unscathed, though it does take several years of repentance to truly feel worthy of anything in the history of rock music.
Before this particularly nefarious period of my life, the dying breaths of grunge continued to ring in my ears and provoked me to consume all sorts of trivialities. Even my involvement in several music clubs could not quench my thirst for crap. In no particular order, I bought and/or ordered: Foo Fighters, Sublime, “Purple” by STP, “Throwing Copper” by Live, “Tragic Kingdom” by No Doubt, and even the soundtrack to “Clueless.” I sang along to songs about placentas hitting floors, spiderwebs, Vaseline (NOT counting the Flaming Lips one) and even the dream of becoming a supermodel.
There are some guilty pleasures for which I cannot sincerely apologize. Queen’s “Greatest Hits” sits in my cabinet, and even though I never listen to it, I’m glad it’s there because Freddie Mercury will always be cool. At least his audacity wasn’t artificial. And Abba has written pop songs that are so perfect they seem aloof and frigid.
Still, I have Hootie’s “Cracked Rear View” sitting in my mother’s closet for no apparent reason. I also had to discard a Fleetwood Mac “Greatest Hits” album once I witnessed my mother’s approving smile. Oh well — at least I learned my lesson before Sugar Ray or (wait for it) Third Eye Blind.