As I was standing behind the counter at work today listening to the first "Staff Inflection" Hip D Podblast I thought 'why am I sanding salad hands? Wasn't I hired as retail manager and isn't there a factory around here?', but then I thought 'I've been called out and I am no yellow belly. Very white, but not yella.'
Anyway, since I now know our Podblast DJ extraordinaire isn't going to be reading our write-ups, I can concentrate more on Hip Displeasure and less on my 'things I want to hear Chris say' list.
Let's take a step back, shall we? To were it all began... matchbox twenty. I know, look at all those words below and groan. YOU elitist, hipster wanker do not want to read about matchbox twenty. While I repeatedly enjoyed the Beatles 'White Album' well before matchbox twenty entered my CD player, I do accredit (pretty substantially) Rob Thomas and company for ushering me into, well, whatever it is I am now.
Don't worry, I promise I'll write about music you MAY care about next time. I've even all ready started writing something! But for now, read this...
‘I wanna push you around/well I will/well I will’. The lyrics that opened my fifteen year old ears to the colorful, beautiful universe that was music. What did I, as an unsure, shy teenager know about wanting to push someone around? Well, nothing really. I was not the ‘typical’, angst ridden teen. In fact, there was nothing typical about me, nor was there any characteristic allowing me to stand out as an individual at all. As if a mindless drone lacking any personality, I made my way through school receiving high grades and doing little else. That is, until matchbox twenty’s ‘Push’ found its way to my unwilling ears.
Music had never made me feel before, yet that was exactly what was happening. Rob Thomas’ raspy, ever so slightly southern sprinkled accent was singing with such conviction! Such feeling! Emotions I had never known were pouring from him with amazing ease. For me, the experience of listening to ‘Push’ was beautiful and heart wrenching and held everything good and lovely this world had to offer. The song gave me hope that one day, I too, would have some kind of overwhelming sentiment of some sort. I was in love for the first time in my life, yet it was not with a boy as I always thought it would be, but with a song, which was even more incredible.
I owned a CD player, by some miracle, and in April of 1997 I officially owned my first copy of ‘Yourself Or Someone Like You’.
My infatuation escalated with every complete listen of the band’s debut disc. I used my school’s computers to search the internet for any, and all, information I could find on the band. Secretly, I printed page upon page of information. Did I need to know Adam Gaynor’s (rhythm guitarist) shoe size was 12, or that Rob Thomas’ favorite ice cream was cookies ‘n cream? Yes! I absolutely did need to absorb every morsel of information, because they were the unexpected ones who gave me not just a simple interest, but a passion, in life. Finally, I was inspired.
Over the next three years I immersed myself in music, but no matter what groundbreaking or new band I was listening to, one of my many copies of ‘Yourself Or Someone Like You’ was by my side. I awoke to the soulful cries of ‘Long Day’ every morning and fell asleep to the heartbreak of separation on ‘Hang’ every night. On my yearbook page I proudly displayed a picture of the band and the quote ‘Funny in a certain light how we all look the same’ from the tenth song, ‘Shame’.
Then, in May of 2000 I attended my first concert of any kind. Just two days after the release of matchbox twenty’s second album, ‘Mad Season by matchbox twenty’, I was able to fix my eyes on the band in person at the Avalon in Boston. Every dream I had for three years prior came true that night when I found myself standing only feet from the stage Rob Thomas, Adam Gaynor, Paul Doucette, Kyle Cook and Brian Yale would grace. During the show, I, who had never raised my voice in public for fear of being looked at, found myself singing, and gasp...dancing. I, who never cared to be anything but a wallflower was screaming for Rob’s attention, and I liked it!
After the show my own personal liberation continued when Brian Yale (bass) emerged from deep within the club’s confines to sign autographs. Finally, I would be face to face with one of the men who helped me find my personality. I felt as though I was in a dream, and for a moment I slipped into my old, timid skin as I barely uttered ‘thank you’ after he signed my CD booklet.
As I stepped away personal disappointment filled my head, painfully simmering there until just minutes after receiving his signature, when I redeemed myself. The moment started when he looked at the crowd standing around him and said ‘Is that it? Did everyone get what they wanted?’. Some formerly shy people may find it hard to pinpoint the exact moment they emerged from their shell, but I can. In that instant I did not think before I spoke, before I shouted, in the middle of a Boston street brimming with people, ‘WAIT A MINUTE! I NEED A PICTURE!’. Brian then looked at *me*, and said to *me*, ‘Come on over’. I threw my plastic disposable camera at my friend and ran to him. All I could think about was his arm lying gently across my shoulders, and how he must have been magnetically charged because my arm went around his waist and my head tilted to his without hesitation. I did not imagine I could be any happier than I was in that moment.
Now, in the “indie” fueled haze that is my music life, some of the most proudly dorky moments are forever tattooed on my brain because of matchbox twenty. From 1997 to 2001 they were a continuous source of instant joy and warm thoughts, spontaneous grocery store dancing and those moments of pure jubilation when nothing but the music matters. matchbox twenty was the sweetest gateway drug to the uninhibited bliss that is all music. They wanted to push me around, and I gladly opened the door.