Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do. Especially when you’ve been together for over 17 years.

About a month ago, I said goodbye to my favorite band, They Might Be Giants. I can still remember being a freshman in college back in 1989 and someone down the hall played some cuts from the Lincoln album. It was love at first sound. I loved the irreverence. I loved the embracing of geekdom. I loved the lyrics that sounded good but really didn’t mean much at all. I loved the hooks in the chorus. But mostly, I loved the sense that these guys were having a blast every time they picked up a guitar and accordion. Yeah, that’s right, an accordion. I don’t care what you think, their shit was good.

And maybe it still is. I don’t know. All I know is that I haven’t really loved the last couple of albums that I bought and I haven’t bought their most recent albums either. It’s not that they’ve gotten too weird, or too alternative for me. I just kind of feel like they really haven’t gotten any more anything.

And that’s too bad.

They sound pretty much the same as they have since they started playing, and I guess I’m just a little sad that they haven’t grown up with me. Since I started listening to them, I’ve finished college, put myself through graduate school, held a couple jobs, got married, got a dog, got a mortgage, and had a kid. I’ve held my two-pound niece in the palm of my hand the day after she was born. I watched my brother go through a divorce I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I lost all three of my living grandparents. I’ve been given an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for kicking ass at work. I’ve watched my beloved Red Sox win a World Series. That’s a lot of milestones.

But I never really felt that TMBG was there for any of them.

People would ask me who my favorite band was and without a beat I’d say “They Might Be Giants.” I liked saying that. It wasn’t that I liked liking a band most people hadn’t even heard of. I liked saying it because deep inside, I felt like I knew them. That they were my friends. But then, one day a couple of months ago, I paused before answering the question.

Sometimes, all it takes is one pause and it all comes crumbling apart.

I thought about them for a long time. When I hear most of their earlier work, I’m suddenly transported back to a time when I felt like I could do and be anything I wanted. I’ll always have a soft spot for those early songs. But I hear them now and I feel like I’m looking for answers I know I’ll never find in their disjointed lyrics. Heck, I can’t even tell you the last time I popped in one of their albums because I was just dying to listen to it. So, I took a good hard look at them and said, “I think it would be best if we spent some time apart.”

It still makes me kind of sad, really.

I’ll be driving to work and WXRT will suddenly play “Ana Ng” and I’ll say to myself, “We can still work this out.” But I know we can’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

So, I’m making it official. I’m breaking up with my favorite band of all time. I’m not throwing out the albums. I’m not deleting them from iTunes. I’m just not doing anything at all with them. Instead, I’m concentrating on some of the artists who have really resonated with me lately.

Colin Hay, for one. Former lead singer of Men at Work. I hear his songs and I feel like he’s been to most of the places I’m going right now. I want to know what he thinks about getting older. Changing perspectives. Finding joy in just standing on the water’s edge and trying not to get swept away. I hear his voice and I think, “This is a guy I can listen to for a while.”

Pete Yorn for another. He’s got a new album out that I’m itching to get. I want to hear his voice struggle to rise above the guitars and give new meaning to the collisions inside my head.

Bob Schneider. My buddy Terry turned me on to this guy and I’m just amazed by the variety of sounds he can produce. He does things with words that should be illegal, and I can straight-out dig that. One of these days, he’s going to put out another album I can buy and leave in my CD-changer for weeks without wanting to take it out.

In the meanwhile, I’ll take the TMBG CDs out of the holder in my car. I’ll file them away in a safe place, near the bottom of my musical rotation. And someday, when I’m feeling older than I really am, I’ll pop in Flood, and it will be 1990 again and I can do and be anything I want, at least for the next 43 minutes.

I’m not sure what it is.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been pretty warm lately. Or maybe it’s the residual moisture in the air from last Friday’s monsoon. In any case, I’ve had several awesome penis days in a row. Seriously, I don’t know what got into the guy. He’s looking better than he has in a long time.

All right, if I keep writing about this, someone’s going to get the wrong idea. So, I’ll stop. We now return to our sporadically scheduled blogging.