This is it: the moment none have been waiting for, though maybe some have questioned. What is Rusty's favorite album of all-time? The title of this post gives it all away, yes, but wouldn't you rather know the tale of how it came to be . . .
Today is my 24th birthday. Over the last 16 years, music has taken over my life: from the moment I remember sitting in my grandparent's house seeing the video for "100%"; that moment Bill Hanson played "Stars & Sons"; the night I met Bob Pollard; that time I went deaf seeing Yo La Tengo.
You would like to think that I would remember the first time I heard Adam & Eve, but I don't. Ok, I remember it vaguely but it's not the time. I'm listening to it right now and it doesn't take me back to that place because it's just .. not on my brain. The first time was not the moment when the world stopped to twirl on its axis. I wasn't really in to it. Hell, I don't even know how old I was but I know it was a Monday and it was March. The cousin was home on spring break, and we hopped in his beat to hell Chevrolet Corsica and headed down to the Owings Mills mall for some reason or another. He was all "Oh, Rusty - you need to hear this!" and he put it on and if it was 1998 and I was 13, it didn't do shit for me. The hidden opening was so-so, "Future Boy" did not appeal to me in the least. He also had a copy of Ultra by Depeche Mode in the car. I think I was more interested in listening to that at the time.
The moment when the world stopped spinning and it blew me away . . . I don't remember that either, but I do have a better memory of when it was. Summer, 2001 - I had just purchased my second car, my 1992 Acura Integra. There was this girl who was a few years my senior from work that I was totally in to but she was totally in love with someone else. I don't know why, but I borrowed Adam & Eve from my cousin. That and maybe another Catherine Wheel album. I was on the path of becoming Rob Gordon, the hero of High Fidelity, when it struck me. I was rather obsessed with that movie, wanting to become him, or John Cusack, or both. I owned the movie, I read the book. I compared the two every which way up and down. And then one night, I was casually paging through the liner notes to A&E when the first "mind=blown" moment of my life occurred. Page 2, left column, center, all alone, its own paragraph:
"Thanks to Nick Hornby for writing High Fidelity"
From every listen then on, I was pay real close attention to the music. "Broken Nose" became an early fave: when Rob Dickinson sang 'No one gives a crap for you' was he singing to Rob Gordon? Was the broken nose metaphor for a broken heart or a bruised ego? "Phantom Of The American Mother" spoke of 'Superman and Sonic Youth and fairy tales / it's time to face the truth". I loved (I still love) Sonic Youth. Was Dickinson again crying out to Gordon, telling him that maybe it was time to shape up, get a real job so your lawyer lady Laura would not leave you for I. Raymond.
One thing is for sure. Like the beginning, the end lays in hiding. That's one of my favorite things about this album. Looking at the back cover it just lists songs two through eleven - not the number one or twelve appear on the traycard. But, as "For Dreaming" explodes and fades away through the fog across the sea, a guitar starts to strum. Dickinson begins to sing, nearly word-for-word verbatim from the text-version of High Fidelity, page 158:
It's a song about a boy, who phones this girl
But she left town years before
And he's pissed off, that he didn't know
Cause he wanted to say goodbye
Tell her how he missed her
Wish her good luck
Put it to rest
All that unfinished business
I'm gonna phone, everyone that I've known
Through the downs and the ups
ANd who I suspect have written me off
As an insensitive fuck
And say good luck and goodbye
They'd feel good
I'd feel good
We'd all feel good
That would be so good . . .
I could've cried. Hornby's words didn't radiate that way off the pages, but when Dickinson put it in retrospect, in that state of mourning combined with false hopes, I could.
I listened more diligently, fall in love with each and every song on that album. I did some research. I think my cousin said it was their make or break album, or I found that out on my own. It sounded so different compared to their earlier records I would later acquire. The final section, from the building and building and its there and it's finally realized moments of "Here Comes The Fat Controller"; to the tape stopping on the "Controller" in to "Goodbye" where our hero excalims "Goodbye, I've finally arrived!"; to the end "For Dreaming" where we go in to the aforementioned outro. It all clicked it just hit me. I felt like Rob Dickinson was singing to me, singing for me. It came out in 1997, the most important year, My Formative Year, and it took me four years to discover it. I finally felt like I had arrived. Thank. God.
Download: "Broken Nose" [mp3] // "Here Comes The Fat Controller" [mp3] /// [Buy Here]