I was 12 or 13 years old when I had heard Buddy Holly on the radio. Not the singer but the song. Power 92, with Rob Christie and Audie Lynds probably played it every morning around the time when that song came out, which is standard practice for Pop stations. Play it until it dies.
I had a girlfriend at the time, and we were getting into that sort of Christmas spirit thing that young “couples” get into by giving each other significant presents. It was a big deal. I think that this was the year that I had given her a little chain bracelet with my name and a heart engraved on it. I was a big fan of The Wonder Years and was sure that’s what Kevin Arnold would have given Winnie Cooper. In return, my girlfriend gave me Weezer’s Blue Album.
As things turned out, Buddy Holly was the gateway drug into a completely mind melting rock album. I didn’t know it at the time, but at that young of an age, I was already hearing the best front to back album I would ever get to lay my ears on.
Everyone has a favourite album or two. It’s always hard to narrow these things down. Yet there I was, convinced that Rivers and the gang were the dudes would would save us all from the grunge backwash that we were all swimming around in at the time. This album made me feel so many things, and the main thing it did was make me feel really good.
I don’t bring this topic up at random. I was driving home from St. Albert the other day and I needed something to listen to. I dug around in our car and pulled out the disc. The exact same Christmas gift I received just under 23 years ago. Scratched up, but still ready to go!
The Blue Album is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Right from the start, when the guitar on My Name is Jonas builds in, I felt it in my gut. A flood of familiarity, digging its way right through me. I sang every word. Rarely do you have such a disc that will give you 10 solid, classic, must-never-skip songs. I sang along to each one, probably one of the only albums I have memorized.
Along with the familiar feelings, new meanings seemed to form in my mind as those same old words poured in:
In the garage, I feel safe, no one laughs about my ways. In the garage where I belong, no one hears me sing this song.
In my car, all alone, belting out these words made me feel comfortable in my own skin. These words just seem to make me feel good about myself. The whole album’s one big, courageous tossing aside of the slobber-soaked security blanket.
With all of the harmonies and songs about surfboards, it reminds me a bit of the Beach Boys. Their Greatest Hits was the first cassette tape that I ever listened to over and over. Maybe there’s a connection in my brain that’s making this all go together.
The Sweater Song, Holiday, Surf Wax America and, of course, Say It Ain’t So are all you really need to get yourself home safe and sound. Yet the best songs, the ones that linger, are The World Has Turned and Left Me Here and Only In Dreams.
They all mean something to me. From way back, feeling the sting of that same girl breaking up with me, on through towards High School, The Blue Album was a regular part of the journey. It all met up with me again the other day in my car. Solid, fun and poppy music. Swinging hard through the guts.
For as long as music has meant anything to me, this album remains the standard to which all else will be compared, and inevitably, the album that which all others will submit to.
Only In Dreams ends this beautiful mess, slowly fading out, then coming back again strong, one last time.
It really is perfect.
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