The power of music is defined in its’ ability to help relocate faded memories once thought to have been forgotten (whether we like it or not). There have been countless moments in my life that would have remained adrift had it not been for the existence of a particular song that helped to define a moment in time.
1994 marked my introduction to high school life. The time where the choices I made would begin to have great impact on the man I would eventually become. To say that I was naive, impressionable and innocent as a fourteen year-old is an understatement. In fact, looking back at it now, I don’t think I realized how important high school was to me as an individual. It has taken me years of excessive contemplation to arrive at this conclusion*.
In retrospect, some of my most vivid memories are from high school. I am not intending to state that these memories are particularly positive or negative, but rather they are simply just memories. And as stated above, certain songs will trigger an illicit memory thought lost in the clouds.
Grade 9 is best remembered as post-grunge for me. Popular music was currently in the midst of a massive transition from grunge music to post-punk (or Pop Punk). Kurt Cobain was dead and so was the’ I Hate Myself’ movement. The bands I best remember from this grade were The Offspring (‘Come Out and Play’, ‘Self Esteem’, ‘Gotta Get Away’), Rancid (‘Salvation’)** and, of course, Green Day.
Conveniently, my first introduction to Green day occurred during music class. As I sat there silently in the second row with my alto saxophone awaiting the commencement of first period, I happened to look up and spot my buddy*** walk in with a shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Green Day’ and ‘Dookie’. I had no idea what Dookie was, but I was intrigued because my friend was always an influential trend setter in what music was ‘cool’ to listen to.
Green Day became everything to me in grade 9. To say that I was a moderately obsessed ‘basket case’ is fairly inaccurate commentary. In fact, I became so obsessed with Green Day in grade 9 that I decided my first act of rebellion would culminate with the alteration of my physical appearance. As I stated prior, I was highly impressionable (a child influenced by everything around him). Whatever spoke to me, I wanted to become. This adolescent behaviour led me to the decision of dying my hair blue to emulate these punk rockers from California****. This choice to dye my hair blue also led to the first outright lie my mother ever told me (that I can recall). She ‘honestly’ told me that my natural hair color would never grow back the same, and that it wasn’t worth it to do it. In my naive state, I believed her. What if I changed my mind and wanted to dye it back? It would be impossible as a result of my rash decision to become a troll doll. Suffice to say, I didn’t go through with it.
Looking back on it now, I’m definitely grateful that my mother prevented me from making a complete fool of myself. But, in another way, I’m saddened that she didn’t allow me to express myself in the way that I wanted to. In all honesty, my mother wanted to protect me for as long as she could, but there was no preventing the rebellion that grows within the hearts of teenagers. I would soon get my time.
Other notable bands/musicians/songs from grade 9 that impacted my musical understanding/appreciation were the Beastie Boys (‘Sabotage’, ‘Sure Shot’), Bush (‘Comedown’, ‘Glycerine’, ‘Machinehead’), The Cranberries (‘Ode to My Family’, ‘Zombie’), Live (‘I Alone’, ‘Lighting Crashes’, ‘Selling the Drama’), R.E.M. (‘Bang and Blame’, ‘Strange Currencies’, ‘What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?’), Stone Temple Pilots (‘Interstate Love Song’, ‘Vasoline’), Weezer (‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Say it Ain’t So’, ‘Undone-The Sweater Song’)
*And, of course, the countless teen movies that constantly reiterate this idea.
**Their mainstream hits, Ruby Soho’ and ‘Time Bomb’ would hit me the following year.
***The same friend that introduced me to Metallica and Michael Bolton!
****This choice came about after I watched a taping of their appearance at Woodstock 94 in which lead singer, (a blue haired) Billie Joe Armstrong, curiously ate a patch of mud on stage prior to the song ‘When I Come Around’ (Hey, a rock star can do that and look cool and inspirational simultaneously).