As I was driving home from the mall yesterday, listening to Pandora radio, a few familiar chords came on and I immediately smiled; it was the opening of “Going Away to College” by Blink-182.
It wasn’t necessarily that song that evoked my positive reaction, but rather, Blink-182 in general. As I drove along, singing along to every last lyric, it dawned on me that this band stands out to me as THE band I would want to accompany my life’s soundtrack – all the way back from 8th grade, when my best friend Liz told me about them – to now, as I reach my mid-20′s. I don’t know if she saw it on TV or whatever, but the fact of the matter is that she discovered them, got the CD and we.were.hooked.
From “dammit” – the adolescent anthem proclaiming today’s blog title as a lyric, to their homage to Star Wars in “A New Hope,” this album was on a constant repeat through my teenage years – a time that I look back upon with both humor and a resolute contentedness of never having to go back to! Despite that, the simple three-chord songs and dualing vocals between Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus serve more of a happy reminiscent reminder, more than anything.
Over the years, Blink-182 released quite a few more albums, which I always promptly purchased and as I became more of a fan, I collected some of their earlier releases as well. As evidenced purely from their cover art, their humor could be classified as unrefined, or even juvenile, but it was the heart behind so many of the lyrics that really drew you in. The topics of breached friendships, divorce and even suicide were intermingled with lighter themes, like the thrill of a first date in the aptly titled, “First Date.”
“In the car I just can’t wait,
to pick you up on our very first date
Is it cool if I hold your hand?
Is it wrong if I think it’s lame to dance?
Do you like my stupid hair?
Would you guess that I didn’t know what to wear?
I’m too scared of what you think
You make me nervous so I really can’t eat”
It was that montage of serious and fun that illustrated each studio release, making them so re-listenable that you couldn’t help but memorize the lyrics – a fact that really occurred to me in the summer of 2000, when my sister, cousins and I drove down to the Post-Gazette Pavilion outside of Pittsburgh, to see Blink-182, with openers New Found Glory (another favorite of mine.) I remember singing along to every number, despite the fact we had really unruly concert “neighbors” – still, it marked the one and only time I’ve seen the band live in concert.
I also distinctly remember hearing “What’s My Age Again” on the radio, back on good ol’ Eagle 810 Radio and worrying for a moment that the success of the band might change their sound too much – or cause them to “sell-out.” While they did enjoy lots of success, and I am guessing, more than enough monetary reason to do so, I feel they did keep true to their beginnings.
When their self-titled album was released in 2003, I enjoyed their integration of advanced production techniques and obvious upgrades in recording equipment. Although the album felt a little darker, it was still them; my stand-out favorite (above the radio-darling, “I Miss You”) was “Go,” a song I often include in iTunes playlists for treadmill-time:
Soon after, and intermingled in there with their “Greatest Hits” album (I never purchased that one -I had all the songs already) the band made an amicable split (dubbed an “indefinite hiatus”), joined and rejoined several side projects, including Angels and Airwaves and +44 – then re-grouped after the 2008 plane crash that almost ended drummer Travis Barker’s life. In February 2009, the band announced they were back together, subsequently went on tour, and are said to now be recording a new studio album.
Through all the drama and events, I stayed – and am still – a big fan. Blink-182 introduced me to the concept that we really are not alone in this world; whether you think of that in a deep, philosophical way – or not. Their lyrics, though simple and sometimes downright silly, bridged that emotional gap between awkward teenage years and ‘discovering yourself’ as a person – and it’s okay to laugh at life!
What band would write your life soundtrack?
All album cover images, Amazon.