In his book ‘Killing yourself to Live’, one of my very favorite music writers of all time, Chuck Klosterman wrote:
“Whenever I find myself in an argument about the greatest rock bands of all time, I always place Zeppelin third, behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This sentiment is incredibly common; if we polled everyone in North America who likes rock music, those three bands would almost certainly be the consensus selections (and in that order). But Zeppelin is far and away the most popular rock band of all time, and they’re popular in a way the Beatles and Stones cannot possibly compete with; this is because every straight man born after the year 1958 has at least one transitionary period in his life when he believes Led Zeppelin is the only good band that ever existed. And there is no other rock group that generates that experience. You simply think, ‘Wow. I just realized something: This sh*t is perfect. In fact, this record is vastly superior to all other forms of music on the entire planet, so this is all I will ever listen to, all the time.’ And you do for six days or six weeks or six years. This is your Zeppelin phase, and it has as much to do with your own personal psychology as it does with the way John Paul Jones played the organ on ‘Trampled Under Foot.”
We all go through phases, musically and otherwise. There are years we define ourselves by a particular set of friends, by the clothes we wear and the music we listen to. I had a brief two-week phase into the gothic realm (quite unintentionally, I dyed my hair black and then got freakishly pale from mono the following week) and countless other genres that had specific sounds, looks and peers. But through all my experimentation of different realms, there are a few things that have remained constant. My love of old melancholy punk lyrics, my preference for ripped jeans and one of my very dear friends, he loved me no matter what colour my hair was or what I listened to.
I grew up an only child and therefore spent my childhood wishing for a boisterous family full of siblings. I fantasized about a big brother that would protect me from men with grabby hands and commitment problems, one that would swoop in and keep me safe. When I was 14, life gave me the brother I asked for, in the form of a gangly kid with a big heart that gave the best bear hugs in the world. We spent my formative years driving around our hometown in a beat up white pickup truck, chain-smoking cigarettes, talking about life and singing pop punk songs. And since that time, he has been that person I needed. He has rescued me and watched me cry and yell and babble on and on about the same things year after year. And in my greatest time of need, he always knows what song to play me to make me feel okay again.
I think that when it comes to music and to friendship, things only end if you want them to. If you don’t want to forget about a song, or about who you were when you listened to it, then you gotta keep those songs in rotation. If you want to remember a band, you play their music. If you want someone in your life, then you stay in theirs. People DO grow apart, but it’s because they let it happen. They make plans and then one cancels and the other one doesn’t reschedule and then one forgets the others birthday and the other is too busy with their new significant other to come their party or some crap like that and then they never talk again. That’s usually how friendships end in my experience. I think people in their twenties and thirties have such a hard time with this because when you’re young friendships are so effortless. They’re decided by geography and interests and who someone is dating or what they’re wearing or listening to. They don’t usually require a lot of effort to maintain until you get older and have all these time-eaters in your life you have to work into the equation.
So I’d like to take this weeks Music Monday to thank the man who has always made the effort to remain a constant in my life for the last 15 years. Someone who is the most decent, big-hearted person I know, who always blows me away with his complex and kind thoughts. Someone who will call me on my bullshit and who always has my back. Someone who is an incredible father, son and friend. He’s the toughest dude I know; by day he’s a rough miner and by night a doting father that keeps extra backups of his daughters favorite toy so she never has to be without it if she loses one. This song right here was one of our favorite songs to sing when we were younger. We would rush down back country roads and sing to each other ‘You’re a bitch, but I love you anyway. You make me sick, but don’t ever go away‘ and laugh at how clever and funny we were. I’m so lucky, it’s such a comfort to know that I can always jump in a truck with my friend, put this song on, and sing to my hearts content with the knowledge that no matter how many phases I go through or who I become, I’ll always have him in my life to sing along with me.
Happy Birthday C, I love you. (Even when you’re a bitch)