When I entered college in 2004, all I listened to was country music. I was boot deep (figuratively) in Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Garth Brooks. These are obviously not bad musicians, but seeing as I grew up in the suburbs, it hardly resonated with me in any sort of meaningful level. However, it was what I knew, so I thought I wouldn’t need much beyond Randy Travis’ crooning baritone to keep me content.
Like most 18-19 year old kids, life changed significantly when I left home and went to college. When I initially started off at an East Coast school, I quickly realized how little I fit in. Country music in the NE Atlantic states wasn’t exactly the most popular music choice. Not to mention that my core group of friends/acquaintances came from such affluent backgrounds, that I hardly even felt comfortable even engaging in deep discussions with them, for fear of exposing my standard middle-class upbringing. Needless to say, I transferred after that year. I still didn’t want to move home with my parents, so I opted for a small liberal arts university out here in Oregon – and found my calling.
In finding niche in the world out here in the Pacific NW, that also meant that a lot of growing up had to occur. Over this time, I had to deal with the perils of transferring schools and figuring out how to make up credits, recovering from an injury to try to play collegiate athletics again, and attempting to make a whole new group of friends for the second time in 2 years. Not to mention that I parted ways with my long-term girlfriend and was dealing with personal family issues along the way. Basically, growing up was a necessity.
But this post is not my “diary”, it is about music. I just figured I needed a little back story leading up to this. In the Fall semester of 2005, I moved out of my dorm and into an off-campus apartment with a few friends. One of my roommates was a surfer who wore nothing but board shorts and Hurley t-shirts regardless of the weather. Since we were both not part of the school’s party scene, we spent most of our evenings and free time shooting pool on our hand me down table. And it was at this table where music first connected with me.
Our pool playing was one part competition and one part therapy. We took turns lamenting our existences and relationships (or lack thereof). I remember distinctly the first time he put in the album Futures by Jimmy Eat World in our stereo. I razzed him for the sheer loudness of the music and how “emo” it sounded. But as weeks went by, and hundreds of games of pool were shot, the album continued to play. Words started connecting in ways they hadn’t ever before. The darker tone combined with a poppy beat started to make sense. Lyrics got me through the college themes of “love” and hurt:
Stay with me
You’re the one I need
You make the hardest things
– Jimmy Eat World “Futures”
All of a sudden it clicked and made sense. Through AIM my roomie sent me an “e-Card” (wow, I feel old) of some teaser tracks by the band Anberlin. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of this music. I’m not sure what you want to call the music I listened to during that timeframe. It spanned many genres, from “emo” to “screamo, from “pop-punk” to “alternative”. Whatever it should have been called, it didn’t really matter. It was just Matt for that period of time.
The following playlist has over 30 tracks from these “golden years” of my musical discovery. Sure, there are no Beatles or Beach Boys on here, but that doesn’t mean that they still don’t hold a special place in my heart. I readily recognize that I wouldn’t listen to some of these bands anymore. But I can still sing/scream almost every lyric to these songs and be transported to somewhere in my past. And isn’t that what music should be about?