Florida Stories: A Soundtrack (part 1)

I made a playlist entitled “Goodbye FL / ‘ello London” as a little keepsake; a good time selection of music inspired by my life in the Sunshine State, and the possibilities of my future in another country. Yet I have not shared this selection of music, as it’s only a half-truth and bare outline of my last summer in Florida. How could I encapsulate that much time, energy, and fervor into a list? Perhaps, if I just touch on the music that is the unintentional soundtrack, one would get a hint of what my last few months have been like.

Let’s begin with the most annoying and pervasive song that I have heard at least once a day for the past month: Third Eye Blind “Semi-Charmed Life” (1997). At first, I relished the fact that “Semi-Charmed Life” made a bit of a comeback. I had just received an unconditional offer for my dream graduate program from Queen Mary, University of London and I felt pretty damn lucky – charmed, if you will. Singing along with the top down on my VW convertible with the sun shining brightly, the salty breeze swirling my hair towards the cloudless sky felt exhilarating for my joy rides would be coming to an end in favor of mass transit and fog. Suddenly, TEB began to follow my every move – earnestly playing in the grocery store, randomly blaring from the Bends’ jukebox, and seemingly on loop on the local alternative radio station – everywhere I go its, “Doo doo doo, doo doo-doo doo.” Every step scored by 90’s nostalgia and caterwauling, “goodbyyyyyyyyyyyyeeee” in unison with Stephan Jenkins.

I have nothing but good memories associated with “Semi-Charmed Life” upon its first release when I was 17 and a junior in high school deep into the underground punk/hardcore scene. A local band covered this tune at Battle of the Bands with ska-ish flare. It was a fun song to ironically like. No one in my circle of friends seriously liked that song, besides a few girlfriends and I. The cool kids were busy with screamo shows in downtown attics; incidentally, I was one of those kids fully engaged in hip idioculture. Upon multiple listens of SCL, all these old complex feelings surfaced, which I honestly found a delight in revisiting and parsing through faded memories. My teenage self was divided by a love of pop, hip-hop, and R&B to an equal affection for the subversive punk counterculture. Often hiding my guilty pleasures to win favor with a rather fickle peer group – never really being the real me. It took a decade to find my true authentic self and I honor her with lots of sing-along solo jams to whichever song I fucking choose simply because I can!

Now, that I have heard the song nearly 40 times free of my own volition, I would be more than happy to never hear it again. John Vanderslice agrees with me. Oh and its about crystal meth. Um, all right semi-handsome 90s dudes forgive me for not conducting a thorough analysis on the lyrical content of this piece of pop culture.

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