Christmas of 1994 was the first Christmas I celebrated after my mother died. It was somber and sad and I spent most of it locked in my room in my grandmothers basement. I had been there for the three months at the time and to try and comfort me my dick of a dad bought me a CD player. My first CD player. It was still a big deal in 1994 era North Carolina. I was still buying and playing vinyl records. I ha stacks of cassette tapes and I would mix them on my dual cassette deck for girls I thought were cute. While getting me the CD player (that I asked for btw), was a nice gesture on my estranged fathers part; true to form he neglected to get me any CDs. Which was find his taste in music was drastically different from mine at the time. I was getting more and more into punk rock, metal, and alternative bands of the time. My growing record collection contained a heavy amount of Fugazi, along side Suzanne Vega, Rod Stewart, and Prince. It took me nearly a month before I was able to make my way 40 minutes down the road to Winston-Salem and the Record Exchange. It was the only place I could purchase CDs by the kind of artist I was being exposed to on MTVs 120 minutes. Those two hours on Sunday night was the most time I would spend outside of my room anymore.
The first CD I ever bought was Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. I was really into them for a little while. The next month I went back to Record Exchange and picked up a copy of the classic 1980 debut album by a little known New Jersey band called the Feelies. I bought that because no one I knew had ever heard of them (and neither had I), and when you’re 15 that meant a lot. The month after that I went back for my 3rd CD and chose the Texas band The Toadies. Their hit single Possum Kingdom had moved them off 120 and onto heavy rotation during regular hours on MTV. I was in love with it’s creepy handling of a man apparently murdering either his bride to be or someone’s bride to be. It was an instant classic and I had to listen to that song for a month. Turns out the rest of the album was amazing and I fell in love with it. Despite them being MTV alterna-flavor of the month and one of the very first “Buzzworthy” bands MTV played when they were milking the mid-nineties “alternative” thing for all they could.
I never got the bands follow-up albums, I was way to punk rock by then and the Toadies were just my guilty pleasure secret, like Tripping Daisy and Matthew Sweet. When no one was around I blasted them and sang every word. I always wondered what had happened to them and why I never saw anything else from them after that one radio hit. How come no other singles made it of that album. There were several hits in there waiting to be exploited. A few years back when I was living in St. Louis I noticed they were playing a local venue there and I wanted to make it out to that show but for what ever reason never did. I regretted it and always wondered if I would have another chance to see a band that I once listen to obsessively for a month back in 1995. Last night I got my chance.
I was surprised to see that they had not only remained on the road but developed a rather hard core following. They’re sound is very classic down and dirty Texas funk, part ZZ-Top, part mid-nineties alternative Radio. But in a good way. Like a really good way. They rocked and the crowd was defiantly really into them. I was not alone in my obsession over that album from 195 however. When ever any song was played from it The crowd sang every word. There was an eruption for each track. Subsequent tracks from other albums did not meet with the same response. There were the devoted who knew all the other songs as well, but the bulk of the audience was there for songs off Rubberneck. I sang along too, at the top of my lungs. Despite the fact that I was supposed to be working the show. I thought it was a better deal to get paid to see the show (just in case they sucked). I looked out at the crowd and saw many faces as old as mine and older. We were all still holding on, clinging desperately to something we once felt a long, long, time ago.
I realize I have had a hard time letting go. This is anything but recent. I have always had a bit of difficulty letting these go, moving on, getting on with my life. People especially. I am staying currently with an ex. I’m at least Facebook friends with most of the women I have been even remotely serious with in my entire life. I have a problem burning bridges when it comes to relationships. I always wonder if I may have to cross that bridge again. Despite not having the best track record with said women. I keep people running on zig-zag loops throughout my life. In and out, in and out ad nausea. My Uncles were the same way with the women in their lives when I was growing up. They were trapped in vicious cycles with their girlfriends and baby-mama’s that often bordered on psychotically dangerous. My mother too was in and out/off and on with my father. The two of them didn’t get married until I was 10 years old. That only lasted three years. My dickish father was abusive even more so than the abusive women my Uncles were locked in torture porn romances with. Which never made any since to me. My grandmother who raised us all was strong and independent and let my grandfather a decade before I was born because he was a louse.
How was it that all of the children she raised became codependent, hope less romantics, who couldn’t seem to have a healthy relationship with anyone. It wasn’t because she set a bad example, if anything had we followed her lead we would all be much better off now and in the past. Was it because she coddled us? Was it because we saw her as loveless because she wasn’t having sex with anyone. Perhaps it was because she seemed alone and sad. She wasn’t of course we were all there and more than enough for her to handle. I remember when I was very little she had suitors that would come to call on her. A one armed baseball player that had been in a Richard Pryor movie. Curly from the Harlem Globe Trotters once showed up on my grandmothers doorstep when I was nine I was told to go play outside then. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with my grandmother or how she raised us. Maybe it has to do with genetics and we got these attachment issues from my grandfathers side of the bloodline. It’s impossible to know that I never really new my grandfather. He would blow in to town sporadically and drop off gifts. He had a new wife, and Irish woman with a thick accent I could hardly make out, and flame red hair like Lucille Ball.
This may explain many of my issues. My abandonment issues, my attachment issues, my fetish for fiery red heads. You know I rarely went out the entire time I lived in San Francisco. I went to shows with my girlfriend, but I never made any friends outside of her friends. A source of huge regret for me now. I wish I had explored the city more and made some friends that are not still directly tied to her. Not that they weren’t great friends, but maybe I could have met other people I could have crashed with until I got back on my feet and still be there enjoying that wonderful city instead of clinging onto people from my past. Part of me feels that there is nothing wrong with having people from your past that still care about me enough to let me stay on their couch for three months why I get my head out of my ass. Part of me sees this as another example of my inability to let go and move on. Much like my love of a band who’s only connection was that I was really intensely into them for a month, nearly 18 years ago.