Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Song and a Story

Basketcase by Danielle on Grooveshark

Sometimes memories of mine are so vivid, so real, that I can close my eyes and go straight back, feel the actual emotions of that moment, and be there again. It's strange to me that one of my most tactile memories is of a random day in middle school, in 1994, sitting in the cafeteria after school, waiting for the first meeting of the field hockey team to begin.

Two things about this that strike me as odd now: one, that I was ever interested in playing field hockey (I did just for that one season, between dance and soccer), and two that at age 12, I walked straight into that meeting confident as can be, all on my own. I think back to this in surprise a bit; I was never a shy person but even now attempting something brand new to me, being the lowest rung on the totem pole, all alone, might make me a bit apprehensive. But interestingly, not then.

It's so funny- one of the clearest parts of it all is my recollection of sitting on the bench of a long cafeteria table and smelling the leftover tator tots from lunch that day. Weird, right? But remember those benches? Either side would fold up, and then the entire huge table could be wheeled away. And that cafeteria smell. No matter what school you visit, it's almost always the same, old food and Styrofoam and that weird quiet desperation of adolescence somehow, if you could manage to bottle it up.

So I sat there on that blue and gray bench in the Multi-Purpose Room, which served as both our lunchroom and auditorium, surrounded by that cafeteria smell and a team of older girls. I was in 6th grade, and almost all of the girls were in 8th. The cool girls. The cool, older girls. And two girls in particular, Amy and Jessa, were sitting up on the table, sharing a pair of headphones, listening to something, and bobbing their heads. I had no idea what it was, but my interest was piqued.

Strangely enough I can still remember what they had on, or at least pieces of it all. There was flannel and Doc Martens and Jansport and a floral dress, and even in my 12-year old mind I recall thinking, "so, so cool." So I asked them if I could listen too. And this is where it could have gotten tricky. At that tender age- not quite a teenager, not quite a kid, looking up to the older girls so much- being ignored or snubbed may have been devastating to me. But instead, these two girls, who later that year would also get suspended for smoking weed in the back of a school bus, looked at each other, smiled, and told me to come up on the table and sit with them. My tiny self sidled up next to them, and Amy put her bright pink headphones on my head, no music coming out of the earpieces yet. I sat there in silence for a moment as she rewound the tape. I had no idea that my mind was about to be blown as her Walkman's gears whirred around and around, then finally clicked to a stop.

Have you ever heard a song, or a band, and from the first moment you knew it was something special? As the tape began to play, and the first words of Green Day's "Basketcase" were piped into my ears, I knew. And it's interesting to look back now to being 12, from where I sit here at age 31, and see what an impact music has had on my life. It's been everything to me, and in that very moment, in 1994, when those two girls showed me that song, there was this entire world that opened up to me. Music was not just what my friends listened to, or what my parents liked, there was all sorts of things to choose from- angry music, screaming music, music that conveyed so much emotion that I would find myself waiting for it to come on the radio, then panicking to record it in time so I could play it over and over again that night.

When I first heard this song it changed me, and made me want more. It led me to so many musicians and bands I never would have discovered otherwise, gave me an outlet, and filled up my library card with tape after tape I would check out every week from our tiny local library. The bands I would later discover would lead me to more and more bands, and later shows, and later the friends that would introduce me to my husband. It's amazing what a moment, or a song can mean to a little girl trying to find her way, but it's pretty neat to be able to look back and pinpoint a pivotal moment like this in those often blurry years, and know that yes, that very song changed my life.


42 comments:

  1. I love hearing stories of how music affects people. It's so beautiful to hear why certain things stick with us after so many years. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I agree- I love reading about stuff like this too! Thank you for commenting :)

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  2. I don't know why but the past few days I can't stop singing this song. AND I haven't sung or heard any Green Day songs in a very long time. But seriously just the other day I kept singing..."I am one of those melodramatic fools, neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it" over and over again.

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    1. Oooh we are on the same wavelength! And now I have that song stuck in my head again! haha.

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  3. I love this! And ironically enough, have very similar memories from my childhood. We're only two years apart, so I can totally relate to the description (and smells) of that cafeteria and the outfits of the 90's... (Remember Kriss Kross?) I too got a taste of music, probably Greenday, and it led me to a whole new world. It gave me confidence and a chance to really discover who I was (At the time, a hormonal angst filled teen). Music was an escape from whatever was happening at the time. And when I discovered "the scene" with a new show every Friday & Saturday night in some run down municipal building, it was then I fell in love with it all. The gritty underground music blaring through the woods from our own tiny little universe. I lived for those shows. And, like you, it eventually introduced me to my now husband. A memory, we both share now, of a time so long ago.

    I'm not into the same music I was back then, but still have such an appreciation for music and how it has the awesome ability to transport you right back to a place and moment in our brains. Such a cool and mysterious thing.

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    1. AHH yes! Kriss Kross! I got lunch detention in maybe 4th grade (?) for turning my clothes backwards with some friends. So funny to think back to that. I love that you and I are so close in age and have such similar experiences. So neat.

      xo

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  4. it is the first song i heard by green day and was the one that made me love them too. it brings back so many teenage memories... like when we were on a class trip, my best friend and i were always sitting on the edge of the top bunk bed in our plaid pants and chucks and listening to that song on repeat. we felt like on top of the world. we were the cool kids because we didn't listen to the kelly family or weird dancfloor music like everyone else did.

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    1. It's so crazy how music can evoke such deep emotions and memories! And plaid pants...yes!

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  5. I love your writing style... This is so true. I have a similar memory, but it was Ani Difranco in my older sister's car on the ride to school. Music plays such an important role in our lives at that age. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Jessie
    http://mymessielife.com/

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    1. Aw thank you so much Jessie! I love that you have a similar memory too.

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  6. I love love love this story!! It is so great and amazing awesome that you can recall this story about how song changed your life I feel like so many people have these moments and don't even realize it!
    What a great song too :)

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  7. That is amazing. Music is.. like nothing else. I loved this story. I need to sit and think of I can recall specific music moments in my life.

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    1. Yes! And then make a blog post and send me a link! I love reading stuff like this.

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  8. i so relate to this story. Green day stayed in my walkman from 6th to 8th grade... i had a green day patch on my backpack, which is how i accidentally met my best friend. i'd like to think people thought we were cool because of that :)

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    1. Oh gosh how could I forget BACKPACK PATCHES?! Those were the best.

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  9. i LOVED this! i know moments like this all too well!
    xx

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  10. This definitely reminds me of some special moments in my own life. The fact that this song made such an impact gave me the chills, because I have very important memories linked to their music. Whenever this song pops up on the radio, it's followed by much flailing and screaming and singing by me. *I've probably already mentioned it in the comments at some point, but the Broadway musical American Idiot made me fall in love with them all over again. Every single note of every single song made me feel something extraordinary and I adore them. There really isn't anything like a good rock song.

    (*I saw that show 27 times during it's run and after the final performance, Green Day came out and played a long set and there was crowdsurfing and thrashing and it was beautiful.)

    The Rambling Fangirl

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    1. Hi Cristina!

      You know what? I've never seen that musical! I definitely need to. Thank you for that reminder. From what I've seen via your comments I think you and I are quite similar, so if you've seen it 27 times I bet I'll love it too! :)

      <3

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  11. So funny... I don't remember the exact moment but green day is one of the bands that made me explore the world of punk (and fall in love with it).

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    1. That's so cool we both share that! Another big one for me was Nirvana. Kurt Cobain was my biggest crush growing up, besides all of the grungy pro skaters I loved. hah.

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  12. When my son was born last year and I would rock him to sleep some nights, I could never think of a nursery rhyme to sing. Instead, he had this song sung by his mama. Oh dear! xoxo

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  13. I can absolutely relate to this. Listened to Colbie Callait when I went home early from school because I had found out my first love had kissed another girl at a party the night before. That's four years ago now. I was crying on the train ride, I was crying on the walk up the hill to my parents' house, and I can not listen to Colbie Callait's first album ever since. It's horrible, it makes me feel weak and vincible and silly, because I cried so much over a guy who just did not deserve 18 year-old me. First heart break is no fun, nor is the music you relate with memories like that :(

    I don't remember any happy music memories I could share right now. I'm sure there are hundreds, but this is just the most intense one ...

    Lots of love!
    Maria

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    1. It's pretty crazy how music can be so intensely tied to memory. There are many songs that take me RIGHT back to a moment in time, and yes, definitely some sad, weird times growing up. And of course happy ones too. :)

      Thank you for sharing this moment here! <3

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  14. I think I wore out the "Dookie" album to the point where I had to buy a new copy. That happened with No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom," too. This post opened up so many memories for me--particularly one friend I had in middle school who I thought was so cool. She was what I'll call "skater chic," as in she made baggy pants with ripped hems look amazing. We became friends in class and talked about music we liked; Green Day, Garbage and the Beastie Boys. This was the first time I discovered how awesome mix tapes were. One day in the hall, R handed me a tape of Beastie Boys songs and I knew we'd be friends all through school.

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    1. Oh goodness I loooved Tragic Kingdom too. In the 8th grade I insisted on wearing a little diamond bindi on my forehead to a dance to be just like Gwen. So funny.

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  15. haha! this is awesome. i love how you remember ever vivid detail, and i totally laughed when you mentioned the smell of tater tots because it's so true! i still rock out whenever greenday comes on the radio! this brought back a lot of memories for me too. sweet, sweet, adolescence :)
    xo
    jenna
    www.mamadazeblog.com

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you Jenna :)

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  16. Dang, girl, I feel the saaaaaaame way about Green Day. I remember hearing "Longview" the radio in early 94 (before I turned 11) and being like "okay, this music just sounds RIGHT to me."

    Also, I totally played street hockey, so we're in a not too dissimilar realm there, too!

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  17. My teenage years were very similar to this. You've just reminded me of how I used to make mix tapes from the radio and the clothes I used to wear - so unflattering! Khaki cargo pants and flannelette shirts! I remember discovering all those bands and Nirvana too. I hope my kids get as much wonder and joy from listening to new music as I did.

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    1. Yes! The mixtapes. Always the best thing ever to receive one from a friend- and we always talked between the songs too. So funny to listen back and hear our little voices talking about why this song or that song is so important.

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  18. Such an amazing story, it's so fun to remember things like this so vividly. I remember the first time I heard Dookie and it probably changed me too. I'm really looking forward to seeing Green Day again at Reading festival in a couple of weekends!
    Rosie x | <a href="http://www.everywordhandwritten.blogspot.co.uk>Every Word Handwritten</a>

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    1. So cool Rosie! You'll have to let me know how they sound! :)

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  19. I love this post! I had the same eye opening experience, with the same song by the same band at the same time in my life. It wasn't the cool middle school girls that introduced it to me, but a boy who had just moved to our small New York town from California. He was a 100% authentic California skater, and when he played Basketcase for me on his walkman in 8th grade science class, it literally changed my life forever.

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    1. Such a rad story and I love that you remember it too. It's amazing to think we can pinpoint an exact moment as life changing.

      <3

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  20. yes this song brings back memories for me to. the memory i have from this song is heading to the beach with my older sister and her friends. we would listen to green day, offspring, stone temple pilots, and more. so everytime i hear those songs i get these vivid momories going to the beach. absolutly love it. i started listening to all the 90's music while working out lately. im so sick and tired of the music these days so i needed to bring back the old days. oh and waiting by the radio waiting for a song to come on and then fantically pushing the record button was a daily ritual for me. haha wish we still had those days. i miss it so much. have you ever seen the movie now and then? these reminiscing memories make me feel just like the movie!

    -Lindsey

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  21. Your posts are seriously my favorites! You capture so much emotion in each one and I am like, YES, Danielle described those feelings perfectly haha. It is so crazy to me how one song can bring back so many memories but I love it.

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  22. A great story - and I definitely also have some vivid memories of middle school and high school cafeterias. I'm glad she let you sit down at the table that day - kind people really do make me ridiculously happy. Also, great song choice.

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  23. You have such a great way or writing that has me going "Yes! Exactly!!" after every sentence. Loved this post so much <3

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