Sunday, May 12, 2013

Track of the Week: Beck, "F#*@in With My Head (Mountain Dew Rock)"

Nineteen years ago this week I graduated from high school.  I've now lived more of my life away from my home town than in it, which seemed an impossibly far-off milestone back in May of 1994.  It's been so long that sometimes I need to listen to certain evocative songs to remember just exactly what my life was like back then.  After leaving home, I have lived in two different countries, four different states, and seven different towns.  There have been so many transitions and changes that the place where I spent half my life feels increasingly alien in my memory.

Since I had a tape (yes a cassette tape, they once existed) of Beck's Mellow Gold in the tape deck of my Mazda Protege on a nearly constant basis around the time of my graduation, I was inspired two nights ago to stream this album over Spotify.  Times have definitely changed, but Mellow Gold really brought me back to my emotions in that transitional period in my life.

I was restless and lonely back then, going crazy with the anticipation of leaving home and starting a new life.  I was never all that well accepted by my peers, and while they bawled their little eyes out at graduation over leaving their friends behind, I was more elated than I perhaps had ever been in my life. That restlessness manifested itself in a lot of aimless driving around town in my car, listening to music on the tape deck with the windows open.  While the place I grew up is not all that culturally interesting, it is full of beautiful parks and pleasant, tree-lined avenues.  Nebraska never looks better than in May, when the trees and flowers explode in color, before the onset of the pitiless scorching summer heat, which usually arrives some time around Memorial Day.  I spent that summer working in rubber parts factory tending machines with metal plates heated to 400 degrees, which made being outside on 100 degree days in late July feel like a respite from where I spent my working hours.

The precious weeks in May I had between graduation and work were spent in slackerdom, mostly driving around town and listening to music.  My one close friend had already skipped town, anxious to get away from his contentious relationship with his father.  I reveled a bit in my laconic, wannabe bohemian lifestyle.  Perhaps that's why I was drawn to "Fuckin' With My Head," since it tells the story of a man who lives in an old tool shed and drinks his "coffee from a hub cap."  It's also got a drunkenly loping folk-rock with distortion riff that was perfect for cruising the dusty streets of my hometown.  Music really was my escape in those days, and without any internet or anything interesting on TV, aimlessly driving and thinking was my primary way to pass the time.  While I'm glad to have moved on with my life to places that are more exciting, I do wonder if I would be able to be alone with myself that much today is such an isolated place without going crazy.

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