My Very Favorite Album – Hammering Heart

del-amitri-hammering-front

There were two things that annoyed me as a teenager: disaffected, cynical teenagers; and just about everything else. The irony of this may have been lost on me at the time, but without  emotional contradiction, adolescence is just one long series of trips to the shoe store. Other annoyed teens in my midst drowned out their own screaming brains and gasping hearts with slacked expressions and screamo punk that to them was the only real music, or else radio rap so over-produced, under-thought, and distant from anything that could be defined in good conscience as music that it would form a glaze of apathy over them, hardening with time.

I couldn’t stand a cliché. At least, not once I’d noticed it. The frustration for me came from lack of recourse. Every type of emotional reaction felt cliché to me. I couldn’t stand the scripted timbre of a person’s voice when they’d say things like, “Apparent-LY!” Or worse, the lines peers would lift verbatim from TV and movies and apply to their own banal lives. “You don’t understand me!” or “You’ve ruined my life!” Fuck off, your life is fast food and field hockey. Some little kid somewhere just lost his arm and now he’s got to find a way to work the fields without it.

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My Very Favorite Album – Heard Through a Wall

The summer of 2000 was pivotal. Having survived the Y2K scare unscathed, I found myself free to explore the spoils of adolescence, which lay buried thinly beneath the more oft-publicized layer of adolescent frustration–I couldn’t yet grow a decently Hasidic beard;  I couldn’t yet adequately express myself to a girl despite wanting to to any girl; I couldn’t yet act upon my ambitions solely by my own means. But I had another kind of freedom that only young people have. Adolescence is, to be sure, a magical and privileged time.

Over the two years of high school that had preceded, the Scottish band Del Amitri had wormed its way into my heart as the Official Band of Greg’s Adolescence. I listened to them the way a born-again Christian listens to Christian things. I quoted them in day-to-day life the way a collegiate quotes things by mandate in term papers even where no quote belongs. I did sit-ups to their CDs at night, and greeted the day to them, albeit begrudgingly, in the harsh high school mornings. Forced cups of orange juice burned like upset bile, I tell you, but the Dels’ sweet, maudlin melodies rang true and filled me with emotion beyond my own means as a middle-class American teenager.

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