These past couple of months (or maybe even more), I’ve been listening a lot (again) to Violent Femmes‘ eponymous album. I first bought a cassette copy on a whim during the very late Eighties and fell in love with it almost instantly. The thing is, it is only now that I sort of understood why. This album is actually filled with songs about awkwardness, frustration and not belonging. As if the singer is and will always be an outsider no matter what circle he’s in at the moment. The album’s sentiments totally reflected and summed up my feelings during my youth. And I heard those songs at that awkward stage in my life – being fourteen and going through changes, the person who took care of me and reared me since I was a toddler had just died in a very unexpected and sudden manner, I was in a different circle of friends, flunking school, getting drunk for the first time, bullied, homeless and sleeping on a beanbag in my cousin’s very small living room (so cramped that calling it an apartment is an overstatement). The list goes on. But it was on that beanbag every night that I closed my eyes and found solace. On that beanbag and my brother’s Walkman where I listened to Gano’s words sing about me as if I wrote them. I still feel that way outside my family’s circle – that social awkwardness. Maybe that’s why this album has stayed with me.
“Good feeling, won’t you stay with me just a little longer…”
It’s just something that I always have to have with me. In fact, I have it on CD in the car, my iPod for when I travel, and I still have my worn out tape at home.
Going back to that “awkwardness” – just listening and looking at Gordon Gano and you can tell that he is a socially awkward person. And I mean that not as an insult, but as having that feeling of camaraderie. Of actually finding someone you could look up to who writes and sings about the feelings that you have. As if he knows what your going through. And more importantly, it is something that he is going through. Just like you. Just listening to him sing “Add It Up” and “Kiss Off” still gives me goosebumps all over my body.
“Day after day, I get angry…”
“Behind my back, I can see them stare…”
Now, those are words I can totally relate to. I knew them when I was young. And I know them still.
“Words to memorize, words hypnotize Words make my mouth exercise Words all failed the magic prize”