Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music and Memories

This is slightly different than Postman's music post... but this memory kept coming into my head whenever I tried to think of a song to write about. So here it is.
I was 13, or somewhere close to that awkward, gangly, just-drifting-into-self-awareness age, and my music repertoire seemed to consist of Amy Grant, Hill Song, the Barlow Girls- in other words, soft and appropriate girly Christian singers.
I don't want to blame my mother. I am not saying that at all. And we did have lots of Beatles, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison drifting through the house. It's just, I don't know, I wasn't allowed to listen to the Spice Girls, N*SYNC, etc. I wasn't even allowed to listen to the radio, except the Christian station. I thought that rock and roll was evil. Corruptive.

But, when I was 13 or so, I did a lot of babysitting for my parents. And as a reward, every once in a while, my mom would take me to the Christian music store and let me pick out a CD.
This one time, the time I'm talking about, I was browsing the store. I found a CD with a bright pink cover, and it drew my eye. I pulled it off the shelf- Relient K. I had no idea who they were, what it was, but I took it over to the CD player and popped it in.
it was-
so dirty-
So very, very, unlike anything I'd ever heard before.
After the first few seconds of drums and insane guitar this sweet boy's voice was sing/speaking so quickly I couldn't understand the lyrics.
I stood there, mesmerized by the bass and the utter energy that came through the headphones and flooded my body. It made me feel angry a bit, passionate, like I wanted to run around and break things; shake my head and stomp my feet. It was as if They knew exactly how a confused, angsty teenager felt, and had put it into music and were commiserating with me. I couldn't get enough. I skipped through all the songs, listening to the first 30 seconds of each, and I was in love. Whoever these guys were, I had to hear more. Every day. All the time.
I knew my mother would never buy the CD for me. But I asked her anyways, and even made her listen to the first track, and she shook her head and took off the headphones after the first few seconds. Her brow wrinkled and she looked disappointedly at me-
Honey, I am not buying you this. Are you sure you don't want the new Jacqi Velasquez tape? Or that Point of Grace CD instead? What about this Rebecca St. James, she sounds good. I'll get you that instead.

I argued a bit. Probably whined. But she didn't buy me the CD.
I thought about them for a long time afterwards. Everything I listened to was too slow, too flat, too booooor-ing. Something I had heard on that Relient K CD had awoken something inside me, and it wasn't going away. I felt trapped, stifled, misunderstood. Unhappy for no apparent reason.

Christmas morning we were unwrapping our stockings, and I found the tell-tale perfectly square, flat shape of a CD. As I was unwrapping it, I spotted something hot pink. My heart sped up, and I ripped off the paper. There it was.  For some reason unknown to me even to this day, my conservative protective mother had changed her mind and bought me this punk rock boy singer's CD.

And so began my love affair with Relient K, the first punk-rock band I had ever heard. I got my brother and sister addicted too, and I swear they are the band that opened all 3 of us up to secular music and an entire exciting new world we didn't know had existed. My mother too gradually became way more liberal, and guess what- last Tuesday she even came to the Coldplay concert with me. Progress, friends, progress.


  1. How is it possible I've never listened to these dudes before? They're downright melodic for a punk band. Great post, really sets the mood and scene. Best song to wake up to on a rainy Saturday morning, too!

  2. Ahahaha this scenario! Echoed almost perfectly in my own experience. I remember groups like Relient K leading to harder Christian rock like Skillet and wondering if it was okay to listen to them, what with all that yell-singing, heavy guitar riffing, and intense drumming, but I loved them so much - they were all perfect for that 13-year-old "confused, angsty teenager" phase.
    Ah :)

  3. Postman- they have some memorable lyrics for sure, once you can pick them out!

    Christina- I know, I know, right?! The whole Christian-kid guilt thing, like reading books like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and feeling wrong saying "daemon", and I secretly read Harry Potter for a year when I was 10 years old before I could work up the courage to tell my parents I was obsessed by a book about witches and wizards....funny, though, that even though they approved of The Chronicles of Narnia and LotR, I was worried what they would say about Harry...