Album Reviews of 1994

Published 2/13/17. I wrote this forever ago but it never felt quite finished. It felt too novelty. And then Bryan Woods of New York Tyrant/Tyrant Books contacted me and asked me to send him something weird for them to publish.

I re-read it, each segment of this sad, teen angst story divided by the artist and album name, and realized it was way closer than I thought. I removed the artist names, and then the section breaks felt more thematic, more… like chapter titles, rather than randomly trying to fit story into album reviews. And everyone knows the albums without the artists names anyway, because duh, everyone knows 1994 music. Everyone knows this shit. Why was 1994 so amazing for music? And terrible for teenaged girls?

It’s called “Album Reviews of 1994,” and spoiler alert, it’s not album reviews.

DOOKIE

Remember when someone brought a boom box to the first cross-country race of the year and we heard Dookie for the first time? I bombed that race, crumpling to the ground halfway through, riding out the mental breakdown, and then getting back up and finishing, slow, not last place but last place enough. You were amazing, you came in third, and everyone patted you on the back and said, “Wow, I never knew you had it in you, you’ve been holding back!” The varsity girls all hugged you and told you jokes and your white teeth shone in the late sun. I felt a mixture of anger and sadness and not giving a shit. It felt decades old, like I was someone else, but I hadn’t changed a bit.

I was sitting by myself on the bus ride back to school when the chaperone confiscated the CD. But she was too late, we’d already heard I’m taking pride/in telling you to fuck off and die. We’d already heard it.

This one is incredibly heavily influenced by my own high school experience, though I knew nobody who died in high school, and it’s all very much fiction. But the little details are super real. The cross country race. The pep rally. The turquoise VW. The corduroy beanbag (ALTHOUGH that scene actually happened when listening to Pearl Jam’s TEN, which didn’t fit in the 1994 theme). The Dairy Queen dilly bars. The powdered iced tea.

Someone other than the athletic director had control of the music and we secretly loved it. Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to. And I looked at the crowd and wondered how many of us would grow up to kill someone. I wondered how many of us were capable.

“Whatcha thinking about?” you asked, turning slightly away from the other girls to face me, your hands on the top of your head, elbows askew.

I stared at you. The music stopped mid-line with shrill feedback, someone in trouble and none of us even cared. We didn’t gasp, we didn’t laugh, nobody wanted to give any shits.

“Killing people,” I said.

You laughed. “Aren’t we all.”

Probably.

Read it all here.

And obvs here’s a playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/1213149566/playlist/2zbxfM5KXA5eIVijic6WSl

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