Sunday, August 30, 2009

the 80s: reckoning

As I've said here a couple of times, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year wasn't the best of my life. By summer's end I felt so down on myself that I couldn't bear to look at my own shadow, much less mirrors. No kidding. After that night staring at my whole, miserable life reflected in a plate-glass window I didn't want to have to be reminded of myself ever again.

So I was a pretty freaked out, hurtin' unit going into my sophomore year. On the other hand, I was just crackling with creative energy. I was drawing pictures, designing silkscreen t-shirts, publishing a new fanzine, writing articles for the school paper and scheming band ideas with my buddy Dave.

And my emotional rawness rendered music more beautiful than ever.

I still liked hardcore punk, of course. But now it was part of a spectrum of music I could draw on depending on my mood. In an instant, my taste had skewed eclectic. One minute I might be listening to Lightnin' Hopkins, the next caught in un-ironic admiration for The Romantics.

Still, I was in a lot of pain, and my top comfort album was R.E.M.'s Reckoning. I listened to that thing constantly. And every time I did I felt as though it was hugging me and reminding me that life is full of beauty.

That fall I went to see them by myself at the Mackey Auditorium on the CU Campus. As I drove there I remember listening to Peter Buck sit in as a guest DJ on KBCO. He played a wide range of music, but the one I remember was a song from The Band. I made a mental note to check them out.

The funniest thing about this whole period is that despite my extremely low self esteem, this was the only period of high school when I had a girlfriend. A senior, no less -- a really pretty one. I guess it's because I really was kind of suicidal so I wasn't really hung up about what girls thought of me. And that's attractive.

Anyway, her name was Rachel and she was on the newspaper. She was kind of goth before goth was goth, I guess. A little punk and a little new wave. She liked Bauhaus and I think Joy Division. But she also liked R.E.M. and that was kind of our band. We'd talk on the phone late into the night with Reckoning playing in the background, or the next album, Fables of the Reconstruction.

It wasn't long before I was back to my old self, whatever that was.

1 comment:

Chuck said...

REM was really close to making my Top Ten Rock Bands of All Time. The Talking Heads edged them out by a hair by virtue of being revolutionary from a musical perspective. REM definitely had the formula down, though.

Rachel is way cool. I was happy to hear from her on Facebook during my brief and disastrous foray into that creepy corner of cyberspace. Sophomore year was OK, but you couldn't pay me enough to re-live adolescence. For me it sucked, as I am sure you know.