Mar 232009

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Elvis Costello & The Attractions. As much as I love the guy’s music (mostly that done with The Attractions but some other stuff as well), he’s not an artist whose lyrics often mean a lot to me. I usually think they’re cool and find a couple of key couplets to latch onto for meaning, guidance, and inspiration, but he’s not the sort that I’d quote in my high school yearbook, if I could go back in time, as I might any number of lyrics by Paul Weller or Graham Parker, to cite two contemporaries whose music I like a lot but otherwise find not as rich as Costello’s.

One Costello lyric that might be the exception, that might be the one I would have used in my high school yearbook had I been able to make my selection when I was about 30 years old, when I had a better idea of what life was meaning to me, is from Imperial Bedroom‘s “Kid About It”:

So what if this is a man’s world
I want to be a kid again about it
Give me back my sadness
I couldn’t hide it even if I tried girl

I had some rough emotional patches over the weekend – nothing horrible, nothing earth shattering, but the kind of stuff that puts me in touch with the kid in me. I don’t know about you, but as I’ve aged and matured, some feelings that used to be on the surface and readily available with associated artists/albums that spoke to those emotions have become less prevalent over time. As a result, I spin those records less often than I once did, despite still loving the music as much as I ever did. The first two dB’s album mean less to me on a day-to-day basis these days, but this morning, hearing “Ask for Jill” pop up on my iPod, I was able to tap into what the band meant to me every day of my life in my early 20s. I’ve been listening to those first two albums since and enjoying revisiting those vague, hopeful, fragile feelings that the older, wiser, sometimes too-fucking-real me of today doesn’t feel as strongly as he once did.

Do you ever have experiences along these lines with your maturing emotions and aging record collection?


  25 Responses to “Kid About It”

  1. sammymaudlin

    I won’t leave ya hangin’ bro.

    For the most part I find that lyrics that I clung to as a lad, I’ve mostly grown out of.

    I truly am not angry anymore.

    Message of the hour, these days, is Love can be power.

    One my most hypocritical turnarounds is “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to.” Well, that’s where I live now and am not only content with it, I celebrate it.

    When going thru the rough emotional patch I seek solace thru my personal relationships. Music was the place I went to when I felt I was all alone and/or too proud to reveal my pain.

    Not to say that music from my youth doesn’t still connect me to that time, place both physically and emotionally but it is the music more than the lyrics that do that for me.

    Mr. Mod turned me onto those very dBs albums when I was a freshman in college and to this day when I hear them I’m brought back to that xmas break and bringing that cassette he made me home to AZ. Listening to it in my bedroom and (and in a very Wonder Years like moment) realizing that everything was different now, scary and exciting.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks, my man, although I wasn’t expecting quick replies from this lot. I am asking Townspeople to open up and share something regarding EMOTIONS. Oooooh!!! (Next thread: Top 5 Emotions or Quiz to Tell You What Emotion You Are?)

  3. I’m actually having difficult contributing to this thread, only because, Mr. Mod, you so perfectly expressed my quite-similar feelings as well. I was most intensely into Elvis Costello in college — despite going to college in the mid-to-late ’90s — and thus his music is in many ways tied up with the person I used to be back then, someone who felt things with an at-times unhealthy intensity. So I don’t listen to him as much either, although I must admit that I’m oddly pleased whenever I spin Blood and Chocolate. It’s like a weird time-capsule piece of those strange feelings, not just in the lyrics, but also music, production and instrumentation. I can listen to it, still “feel” the intense emotions, without having to live through it all over again.

    And in many ways, I like to think I’ve moved on from songwriting that merely captures my own solipsism, hence my interest in the rhythm and musicality of words as much as their content. This was not something I was very interested in when I was 19.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Well, this is a sad observation, but true: for me, the biggest change in emotional-ness of music has to do with albums that made me feel hopeful and empowered back when I was young and hopeful. These same albums now make me feel a bit depressed. They conjure up memories of my formerly hopeful self which don’t match the jaded, cynical old turd I’ve become.

    One such album is “Scatterlings” by Juluka. I remember when that album came out, it was a vital psychic bridge between my glorious, happy, sun-splattered high school years in Africa and the grey, cold, unfriendly world I inhabited going to an urban university in DeeCee. As a 20 year-old, the album made me *feel* the wide-open spaces, the mountain-top vistas, the endless promise of a joyfully chaotic, no-rules-here colony, where anything (it seemed) was possible. Now, I realize it’s most often not so. So when I listen to that album, I feel a surge of youthful happiness — followed by a sense of betrayal by The Truth About Life.

    Oh, well.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Good stuff to read, Oats and Hrrundi. You get what I’m getting at. I hope to hear from others. We sometimes talk about what it means to be a gracefully aging rocker, but along the same lines what does maturity do to our listening habits?

  6. The funny thing is, As I get older I am able to appreciate stuff that just isn’t complicated or deep. You wouldn’t catch me at 19 listening to “Wooly Bully”, but now, sure!

  7. dbuskirk

    It’s seems a little early in the season, sorry to hear you’re taking the Phils’ Sunday loss to the Red Sox so hard Mod.

    There is a school of songwriters to whom I have a similar emotional connection, probably more tied to my late twenties and thirties, which seem somehow connected to a loneliness I don’t have as a married man. I still enjoy much of their stuff but it doesn’t get me where I live in a way that it once did.

    The first two who come to mind is Sweet Relief recipient Vic Chesnutt and former Blue Rodeo keyboardist Bob Wiseman, but their is a few others as well. I love their records but I rarely try to turn others on to them, ‘cuz it is a personal thing, ya know?

  8. BigSteve

    I don’t know sometimes when I hear some of those ‘we can change the world/stop the war/find racial justice’ songs I think about how naive we were. But some times I think ‘Hey we were fucking right, you know?’ Cynicism is easy. Trying to do the right thing is much harder. It’s only trying to get everybody else to do the right thing that’s impossible.

  9. alexmagic

    I like to keep my emotions buried deep and locked away, which I am confident will never come back to haunt me.

    This does limit my ability to participate in the thread. But I do have one that I think goes in the opposite direction, a song that hits more close to home now than it did when I was in my teens and twenties. The Kinks’ “Nothing To Say” on Arthur is almost unbearably guilt-inducing at times now, and makes me cringe a bit every time I hear it and recall half-assed phone conversations with my parents, who are getting up there. Good song otherwise, though!

  10. mockcarr

    The ipod helps with this, since you have immediate access to those songs when the mood arises, but I guess the question you have is whether they are still effective. Repetition might be just as much a factor as a different perspective. I find the opposite happens, that you think of the things you felt when the song comes up, rather than feel something and then seek out the song that helped you in a similar situation before, to help you through it now.

    But I think you can stamp older meaningful songs with a new experience occasionally. I have a different appreciation for the songs for the Beatles’ Help because of how they played into my current relationship. Actually, the song You’re Gonna Lose That Girl worked a lot better for me this time around, for instance.

    Thinking about this thread reminds me of a scene in the Addams Family where Fester is depressed about being too hideous to get any, and when Morticia tries to console him by telling him he has a beautiful soul, he says “That’s even UGLIER.”

  11. 2000 Man

    I’m always surprised when I dig out something from my yoot and play it and find out how much I enjoy it. Sweet’s Desolation Boulevard can remind me of stealing smokes and beers and hanging out at the creek and smoking and drinking, but that only lasts a few seconds. I’ve been a pretty happy person since I was born (not to say I don’t have regrets), and there isn’t much music that reminds me of anything particularly crappy. Even the music I listened to around the time my dad died still makes me feel good, and that’s why I chose it to listen to.

    I think some of it for me is that the stuff I listened to the most when I inhabited a “room” instead of a place are things I listened to so much I’ve been tired of them for a long time. I seemed to like that big, epic noise that Yes and Genesis could make, and the older I get the less inclined I am to care about Carpet Crawlers and Starship Troopers. I just listen to that music so differently now.

    There’s plenty of new things that make me wish I could grow a beard and follow raindrops down my window, though.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    2K, the concept that listening tastes can be influenced by living space is pretty cool. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone speculate on the correlation between small living quarters and grand musical settings before.

  13. dbuskirk

    The Lovin’ Spoonful spread lots of hippy good vibes in the region as well.

  14. Mr. Moderator

    db, I get the sense you were commenting in the wrong thread. The Lovin’ Spoonful were presented alongside The Rascals in my premise that there was a dearth of hippies from the Northeast Corridor. I’m willing for my premise to be wrong, of course, but please prove me wrong (or show support) in the proper thread’s comments:)

  15. I want to offer a slightly different history relative to this post.

    The time when I most turned against my early and juvenile taste in music was my mid-20s. I was leaving DC and going to graduate school and couldn’t take (and partly didn’t want to) all my records. So I sold the ones that I felt that I had outgrown emotionally and would never need again–all the genuinely stupid and a little stupid and actually half smart heavy metal and hard rock that had been crucial to my high school soundtrack.

    Through graduate school, with my mind on other things, I never seemed to miss Black Sabbath or Judas Priest or Lynyrd Skynyrd. But once I was out of school, working various jobs and trying to have more success as a writer, I suddenly felt like I wanted to hear that music again, and I bought most of it back (or at least a good portion of it, along with some good best-ofs as summary replacement, in some cases–I never repurchased all that fucking Jethro Tull but I do have a BO).

    These days, whether it’s dB’s or other consciously youth-oriented material we’re talking about, or Black Sabbath’s first six records or something like that, I have no problem whatsoever enjoying music that speaks to younger emotions or spoke to my younger self. I don’t feel removed from it at all, and in fact I feel more removed from the self who thought I was ever going to be too mature to love what I loved at that time.

    In short, I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for sharing, Mwall and all of you. I hope you have found this thread as emotionally liberating and healing as many other RTH threads are constricting and scarring.

  17. I totally relate, mwall. There were two bands that I attribute to teaching me to rock (for better and for worse): Kiss and AC/DC. I liked Kiss when I was five years old because I was five and they looked like superheroes. I had know idea what “Plaster Caster” was about or “Christine Sixteen” but I knew every word and every lick. They were part cartoon and they rocked. I had no idea about how “good” music was supposed to sound, I just liked the sound and look. When I entered into my middle school years, I fixated upon Angus Young and AC/DC. This was likely a direct rebellion against all the hair metal music the radio told me to like. These guys weren’t pretty and they looked like normal blokes in their jeans and tees (with the exception of the devilish schoolboy). They were even dangerous Satan worshippers (or so I was told). Plus, their lyrics were written for 12-14 year-old boys the world over. Sexual innuendo is genius when your that age. It’s funny that they’re Wal Mart poster children now, but more power to them for making a buck in this music industry. I grew up from that to Metallica before they went Black Album and google platinum (that’s perhaps another story).

    I went away. Got to high school, then to college. I was a music student. I couldn’t be bothered by “simple music”. I knew how to analyze a G7 chord, for crying out loud! It was all Zappa, Varese, and The Beatles for me. A whole new world. Was a pretentious little prick I probably was.

    Then I found a copy of Love Gun in the college bookstore. I remembered this old childhood friend. I took him home. I listened to it and found that I still knew every single word. I listened again before I called my parents to ask them why they let me listen to such risque stuff. Weren’t they afraid that their little boy would grow into some sexual deviant hooligan? (I didn’t and I am glad they let me listen to this stuff.)

    After college, I immersed myself in the sounds of the 60s and artists that I was supposed to like. It was then that I became a serious student of Rock and discovered a ton of music that spoke to me and still does. Since then, I have disovered lots of people that have helped me through different periods of my life. And I have loved most of them unconditionally since, some of which has been discussed here.

    I still listen to old Kiss. I have almost every single AC/DC record. And I love The Beatles and Zappa. I love them all. And I’m still looking for great new music.


    PS–Rock Town Hall reads my mind again! I currently have the fisrt two dBs albums in my car stereo right now.

  18. saturnismine

    mod, i couldn’t respond to this thread right away because i think i’m working with a different paradigm…or maybe it’s SO EXACTLY THE SAME that it doesn’t even register on me.

    maybe YOU can tell ME. here’s my response:

    embrace the too-fucking-realness. don’t let it get ya down. seriously. you’re refining your vision. don’t lament moving on.

    think of it this way: do you know ALL the lyrics to all those old songs by heart? probably not. so go back and check them out knowing that you’ll discover stuff that wasn’t even there for you before. inevitably, you’ll also discover stuff you never knew was there in YOU. your perception of it as vague is new, a revelation.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    I don’t let it get me down, Sat, thanks. What I was trying to get at, if it wasn’t clear, is that only when I get down in a certain way do I feel susceptible to some songs that once meant more to me. The songs still mean a lot to me – as songs, in particular – but they’re no longer “the soundtrack of my life.” And honestly, that’s cool. I can no longer imagine a life – at this point in my life – in which I’m excited/anxious about asking for that nutty Jill. I’m glad to have moved on from having those feelings on the surface as much as I once did, just like I’m glad to have some of the stuff that bubbled to the surface in my life not be as much an everyday issue as it was when I was, like, 12.

    I like what you say about seeing what new may come out of some of those old songs. I have noticed that now and then.

    One thing I find most interesting, as the too-fucking-real me listens to music, is that I can read more into what were probably innocent lyrics than I used to. I don’t want to tell you what was going through my head last week when watching that Mamma Mia movie, but trust me: it was a mind-blowing experience. That thing should be a midnight movie of epic proportions.

  20. I dunno. I feel as though it’s a 50-50 proposition with me. Many of the older things I loved “way back when”, I STILL get the same youthful rush from, others have either fallen away or if I do still get something out of them, THAT particular thrill is gone. I expect this will continue, little pieces falling away, like wet cake .

    I was so much younger then/I’m older than that now!

    Mod, you’ve got the oddest tastes when it comes to films you feel should be considered “cult” material. First “Straight to Hell”, now “Mama Mia”? WTF?
    I just watched “Troll 2” the other day. Now THAT’S a badfilm masterpiece on the level of Ed Wood, Jr.’s finest.

  21. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve been meaning to write up my Mamma Mia experience. I’m still trying to process its strange wonders. Maybe I’ll grab some time tomorrow.

  22. Maybe some of these things fall under the category of “too much of life’s experiences”. I remember the exhilerating rush of hearing The Beatles and discovering that music during my high school years. Oh, the excitement I heard in the opening notes of “Strawberry Fields Forever”. I put them on a pedestal and promptly set about discovering their influences and their legacy. I still love that music very very much but it just doesn’t have the same effect on me. I think it’s because I’ve overstuffed my brain with so much music that it’s harder for me to get as excited about. It makes me a little sad honestly.

    I was the same age as The Beatles when I was in love with them. Now, in my thirties, I feel I am looking back on those times and it’s a memory. I long for the day when I feel the way I felt for them when I was younger. I’m sure it will happen. I hope it happens. But, for now, it’s all academic. I think this was discussed earlier here in the Hall, but I don’t NEED to hear Revolver or Rubber Soul to know they’re brilliant.

    The Beatles are probably a bad example, but they seem to be a perfect example for me.


  23. alexmagic

    One thing I find most interesting, as the too-fucking-real me listens to music, is that I can read more into what were probably innocent lyrics than I used to. I don’t want to tell you what was going through my head last week when watching that Mamma Mia movie, but trust me: it was a mind-blowing experience. That thing should be a midnight movie of epic proportions.

    Mod, you know it’s “Waterloo”, all one word, right? Get your mind out of the gutter, man.

  24. mockcarr

    I know I’m supposed to be a grown man and everything, but I don’t want any part of that Mamma Mia movie. It just looks so awful that I’m afraid I might like a little of it and hate myself.

  25. Mr. Moderator

    Good stuff, TB!

    Alexmagic and Mockcarr, among all Townsmen, you two might be the ones who most need to see Mamma Mia. Maybe I’ll start a suppport group to help rock nerds through this difficult but rewarding film.

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