Saturday, February 1, 2014
Track of the Week: Soul Asylum, "Somebody to Shove"
Now that I teach high school and am immersed daily in the fevered adolescent world, I find myself getting strange flashbacks to my own high school days and things I haven't thought about in years come bubbling up in my memory. It is not an altogether pleasant experience, since I spent those years in a state of perpetual loneliness. I had grown apart from my best friends from early childhood, and the nerd crowd I had been part of in seventh grade decided in the eighth grade that I was way too uncool to hang with. (Yep, I was rejected by the rejects.) Of course, that didn't stop them from stealing all of my friends in the grade ahead of me.
In high school I basically had one true friend, but he had controlling parents, so we never did a lot together. To cope, I put a whole lot of my energy into extra-curricular events, especially marching band and debate. This meant that from September through March I did not have to face the sadness of a Saturday night by myself playing Nintendo and watching USA Up All Night. Once debate season ended, I usually fell into a sharp depression once I realized that my loser-hood was confirmed yet again.
I usually turned to music, my other great coping mechanism. On those lonely nights I would sometimes really want to wallow in my state by putting on the Smiths, but if I truly needed to feel sorry for myself, I would blast "Somebody to Shove" by Soul Asylum.
Soul Asylum is one of the great forgotten bands of the 90s alt-rock explosion. Unlike the likes of Silverchair and Candlebox, these guys paid their dues punk rock style, playing the bars in podunk towns and honing their craft along the way. By the time their breakout Grave Dancer's Union album came out in 1992, they had been around the block a few times more than many of the other bands that followed in Nirvana's wake. "Somebody to Shove" grabbed me with its combination of punky up-tempo thrash and soaring melodies, but most of all with its lyrics. The plea "I'm waiting by the phone/ Waiting for someone to call me/ And tell me I'm not alone" spoke to me. I desperately needed somebody to shove me out of the house and into the world. My insecurities and awkwardness, which were painfully evident in my social interactions, needed a good shoving out of the way. Most of all, I needed a shove to be able to talk to girls I liked without having a panic attack.
Of course, I figured it all out in due time, which is why this song no longer stirs my soul to action. But hey, I'm happier and better off, so that it makes me wistful instead of sick with regret. I wish I could go back in time and relay that message to my 17-year old self.