An exercise in Pitchfork-ing
My Dad is my favourite person in the whole world. Ever. Of all of the people he is the best. When I was 5 he was going through school to become a nurse, and with odd hours of studying and a workaholic mother, we spent many a Saturday afternoon together. He would put on an album, crank it up, and dance us kids around the house while baking chocolate chip cookies. This is the song I remember being played the most (though Harry Nilsson’s The Point! is a very close second) and today shapes not only how I listen to music, but what I’m striving to feel at a show or hearing an album for the first time. I want to be swept off my feet, swung around the room, and filled with a sense of joy.
10 - Follow Me
I might have been 9, so I might be lying to you, but I have distinct memory of riding in my family’s van hearing this song on the radio. We were probably going to school or soccer practice. I would sing along, my little self having no idea what I was saying, and my mother probably cringing in the drivers seat. We had just moved to North Carolina, as culturally different as you could get from rural Ontario, and so I spent most of my time daydreaming, reading, or pretending I was a fish who could swim through veins. My Mum got in to a car accident sometime around then as well, with my little brothers in the van. This was the first time I realized any of them could die, and as traumatic and terrifying as that sounds, it probably helped with my appreciation for slightly dark and brooding songs.
15 - Mr. Brightside
This is the year I escaped the horrors of my private Catholic school, and rejoined the harsh reality that was public high school (and all of my friends), and probably was the most important shift in the kind of music I listened to. Here was the transition from consuming only top 40, to seeking out something different. For me, Mr. Brightside bridged that gap, and provided the sense that I was somehow being rebellious - I was leaving what everyone perceived to be this amazing school and listening to music that was not interested in feel good lyrics. The reality was that I was hardly anything different than the year before, just slightly more aware of my peers attempts at adulthood in their drug use and forays in to sexuality. I didn’t participate, and thats why I left. I didn’t care about having a designer purse at the end of the day, and would much rather be at field hockey practice than behind the school giving bjs.
20 - What to Say
I spent a weekend, spur of the moment, in New York when I was 20 to show one of my nearest and dearest some moral support as he and his band played one of the biggest shows of their careers (up to that point). They were touring with the Born Ruffians, and one of the best moments of my life was standing in the balcony of the Bowery listening to What to Say. It was the moment when I realized what I wanted to do with my life, when I realized that it could really happen, and when I realized it was ok to admit to myself that what I wanted was in no way related to what I had planned for at that point. I had been imagining a job in international development or diplomacy, focusing on health policy, and leading some kind of prestigious life that would make others more proud. The truth was that all I cared about was music, the arts community, and social justice, and that I wanted to find a way to make all those things happen. I cared about musicians playing great shows and getting paid well for it. I cared about hosting amazing shows and festivals. And more than anything, I cared about talking about why that was important for the world. I like to think I’m on my way to doing that now, and that show, and this song, made it possible.