A lot of artists have rituals both on stage and in their creative process. Some like to play barefoot. I’ve seen good luck charms, favorite t-shirts, beloved guitar picks and certain movements that people think will warrant them a good show or album. Hell, even I have to write this column sitting in one of two places. They aren’t necessarily about superstition or guarantees, A ritual is defined as a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value.
We all have them in some way. Certain songs you always play at certain times, playlists for different places. Music is inherently linked to our patterns and moods so it naturally becomes a part of our regular actions. I have several music routines in my life, but one always sticks out when I’m about to embark on a certain stretch of highway. Going to my hometown always scares me. Along with birds pecking out my eyes, men with small hands and wind turbines, spending more than 3 days in the place is right up there on my list of irrational fears.
But of course, I miss my family and friends, so twice a year I embark on the 8 hour journey north to my place of birth, somewhere I’ve always felt like a foreigner, even when I lived there. There’s a wind in the broken highway just before the road turns into town and for as long as I can remember, I have played this song as soon as I hit that bend. It’s as much of a part of my coming home habit as putting gas in my truck; its necessary.
I got this album, A boy named goo, from a friend in 1995. It was a pretty integral part of my transition to a small town, and this song always stuck out to me. It always perfectly embodied the feeling of nostalgia I associate with my hometown; that feeling of leaving something behind, even when you wanted to.
Since their inception in 1985, the Goo Goo Dolls have transformed from their angsty rock sound to a little more commercial, but lyrically they have always been brilliant and melancholic. I’m headed home today. I know I’ll be nervous and excited, and I know I’ll be playing this song on the way. Thomas Wolfe said ‘You can’t go home again’. Maybe you can’t. Maybe once you leave something behind it will never be as it was. But maybe home isn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. Maybe home is wherever the people who love you are and where you always know what song to play.
“I think about you all the time, but I don’t need the same . If it’s lonely where you are, come back down. And I won’t tell ’em your name……….”