I went to a conference this past weekend at Asilomar, which is on the Monterey Peninsula, moody and rainswept in February. Somewhere south of San Jose, hitting the radio again, I caught the second half of “Add It Up” by the Violent Femmes, and it sounded so exciting and stripped down and full of awkward rage and lust, it catapulted me immediately back to high school when, one day (skipping classes), some friends and I wandered over to the UofA student union and down, I think on the second level where the mailroom was, found the Femmes playing an acoustic set to a crowd of, like, three, looking all misfit, because instead of drums they had what looked like a plastic bucket or a metal pail, and Gano skinny, sweaty, eyes closed, was singing that shocking ohmymymymymyohmymotherrrr.
It was great to hear that song again after years, especially on 101 South, after driving by the exits of my working past – Fashion Island, San Antonio Road, Oregon Expressway – remembering long-gone commutes and carpools and speeding by them.
Later on, going for a run along the ocean view road, past a sandy golf course and exotic flowering succulents, I got the song stuck in my head again, (ohmymymymymyohmymotherrrr, I would love to love you lover). And it was great, running in the rain, skipping out on a part of the conference, being someplace new, and actually, staying up late and hanging out being a little bit high school. Though nothing’s ever like that again.
I’d gotten the idea stuck in my head that some tragedy had befallen the Femmes, something befitting that utter vulnerable rawness of the set I’d seen as a teenager skulking in the university student union. And when I got home and thought about writing this blog post I looked them up, thinking that maybe the guy had committed suicide or something. But no, what I found on Wikipedia was that the singer had sold rights to “Blister in the Sun” to Wendy’s for something to do with hamburgers!
How perfect is that? Somebody’s hallowed past is another person’s hamburger jingle. It reminded me to enjoy my memories but not get too choked up over them. And if I had to be honest, I’ll admit that the other song I had stuck in my head while I went running in Pacific Grove was the cheesy Flo Rida remix of Spin Me Round (You spin my head right round right round, when you go down). Nothing hallowed there – just radio randomness and a long drive in the rain.