22 Oct My Life In Albums: Part 1
Its pretty amazing to think what music can do to influence and shape someone’s life. It helps introduce you to lifelong friends, meet the love of your life, or even inspire you to write your own music that may in turn inspire others. Albums play an important role in shaping who we are as people. The best of them act as milestones in our lives, marking an important change that brings us to who we are today. That is why I’m embarking on this mental journey backwards through time. I want to figure out which albums have acted as milestones in my life, and have helped bring me to where I am today mentally, physically, and musically.
Part I: Blink 182 – Self Titled (2003)
Let me just paint a little picture of where I was almost 13 years ago: Twelve year-old me had finally settled into a new school and new home after leaving New York a year earlier for the suburbs of New Jersey. It was a pretty rough transition to say the least. At this point though, I had finally found a decent group of friends to hang out with and life was starting to feel more normal. Luckily for me, girls and music were about to consume every thought in my mind so missing my old home was a fleeting thought.
As cheesy as puberty driven thoughts of love sounds, (or what I thought was love) it’s probably where my affinity punk music all started. Unfortunately, a nerdy, slightly chubby twelve year-old doesn’t exactly kill it in the lady department. I had all this pent up angst and frustration even though I didn’t know jack about being in a relationship; but, as luck would have it, all of these frustrations and no outlet led me to my first milestone album.
At this point in time pop-punk was reaching an apex in the history of the genre. Much to my own ignorance, bands like New Found Glory and Jimmy Eat World had already released some of the most influential records in our scene to date (New Found Glory and Bleed American respectively).
Then there was Blink-182. They had almost single handedly paved the way for pop-punk’s journey to mainstream culture with their critically acclaimed albums Enema Of The State and Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. Of course I didn’t know any of that at the time, but there next release was going to turn my musical perspective on its head.
Before Blink’s Untitled was released, I was floating in this ambiguous musical space like many other kids my age. Top 40 radio and MTV was pretty much where I was absorbing most of my new music, but it was all the same crap. Then, one fateful day while sitting through an episode of TRL, I watched Carson Daly queue up a new video music video from the band Blink-182. That song was “Feeling This,” and as soon the video started my eyes were glued to the television. Just the overall atmosphere of the song mixed with the edgy cinematography was enough to get my pre-teen blood boiling. I loved the angsty driving distortion of the guitar mixed with the call and return lyrics of Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus. Also, I had never heard anyone tear apart the drums like Travis Barker. From that moment on I was hooked.
When the album dropped in November of 2003 I had to have the first day. I remember cheesing all the way from the Best Buy back to my house, just itching to get that bad boy into a cd player. It was one of the first records I had ever bought on my own, and I reveled in all 50 minutes of sound that plastic disc had to offer. There were these crazy spikes of emotion throughout the album that just seemed to hit me in all the right places. I felt like I could relate to everything Tom and Mark were lamenting about, even though I had experienced none of it. They had this way of pulling you in with their introspective lyrics and made you compare everything with your own experiences.
From the first day I listened to “Feeling This” until now, I have a been a product of pop-punk. Untitled opened the door to so many other great bands and albums throughout my life, and it led me into starting a band with my friends in high school (more on that in Part II) and eventually co-develop Punks & Recs. While I don’t listen to it quite as much as I used to, I still try to give a spin every now and again. It brings back a lot of great memories from when I was younger and reminds me of where it all started musically. I get to reminiscing about all the times I’d throw on these songs with my friends, talk about girls, and just jam out.
I feel privileged that I have an album like this to mark such an important turning point in my life. It’s something that will stay with me until I die, and will be a constant reminder of who I am and where I came from.
To see if all of my accolades still stand true, I went back and re-listened to Blink’s Untitled this week. As I expected, all of the songs that stood out to me as a kid are still my favorites. “Feeling This” is the only song I can see as the opener for this record, as it really sets the mood and the tempo for the rest of the album. “I Miss You” comes in as a great change of pace before the rest of the emotionally hard-hitting songs come through in the midsection of the album. The Interlude after “Violence” into “Stockholm Syndrome” is still one of my favorite transitions off of any Blink-182 album to date, and I love how the connection develops a script within the record. “Go” has, and always will be the only dead spot on this album for me. It feels like a leftover from Take Off Your Pants And Jacket and is a bit out of place from the overarching theme, but everything forward from this point is an unwavering path to the end. “Always” and “Here’s Your Letter” round out my favorites from the second half and break up the slower pace from some of the other songs.
Overall, I think the most polarizing thing between listening to the album now and 12 years ago is that I have a lot more to say when it comes to critiquing. When I was a kid all I cared about was loud factor. Now I can look back and think about transitions and melodies, and try to figure what draws me to that specific song. Other than that I don’t think my opinion about the record has changed. This will always be one of the most successful albums of the genre, and that’s not without merit. The songs stay true to their roots, but allow themselves to be absorbed by a much larger audience. Also, the production value still feels relevant and fresh, which explains the staying power of this album. I wish I could say the same about some of the band’s most recent releases, but I’m hopeful for the future.