The 15 minutes before a call in job interview are so nerve racking.
130. Jeff Buckley - Grace
There are times when I actually miss Tower Records and Borders. Any time I find myself in my childhood bedroom when I visit my folks, I am reminded immediately about how many CD’s I bought as a teenager. I had a steady job through all of High School, and every two weeks I would find myself at one of those retailers buying some music. I would carry around this post-it note in my wallet of records I would eventually like to purchase, and one by one I would cross things off the list. My parents had a pretty decent amount of CD’s, but it had a lot of holes in the classic rock sense. However, they had every Billy Joel album, and lord knows I know nearly every word on those albums since I heard it so many times.
One time at Borders I picked up this magazine that listed by decade, genre, and sub-genre, what they deemed “essential.” This was great for me as it helped sort of guide me some things that I should have if I wanted to achieve my goal of becoming a sort of encyclopedia of music knowledge. One of the albums on the list was Jeff Buckley’s “Grace.” Now I had heard “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” before I purchased this, as well as the tales of how amazing “Hallelujah” was, so I was very happy to find this in a bin of “Nice Price” albums for 6 or 7 dollars at Tower Records.
My god, that voice just entranced me. I became obsessed with this album that summer. If it wasn’t for my iPod, I would’ve probably played out this album on CD, and would’ve had to buy a new one. That summer I was doing sound and lights for a local theater camp that I had formerly attended. I must’ve played this album on the house PA at some point, because the theater director gave me a copy of “Mystery White Boy” as a thank you gift. I devoured that album too, and it gave me my first introduction to Big Star (even though I didn’t know it at the time).
A few weeks ago, this album celebrated its 20th anniversary. I hadn’t listened to it in years, but like an old friend, it was nice to catch up.
Today’s vinyl post is about trying to become a musical encyclopedia through Tower Records and Borders.
129. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
So in my last post, I talked about the first time I saw Japandroids at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Well I can prove that I wasn’t telling a tall tale. In the artwork on this Japandroids album, you can find me in a picture from that show!
See! There I am! I can cross off “being in the artwork of an album” off my list of musical achievements. To the music and stories!
"Younger Us" was a song that was released a few years before this record came out (in 2010). At that time, I was still at college, and was working a really horrible summer job. Each day I would drive to arrive by 9am to be a Telemarketer for a
probablydefinitely sketchy “Energy Supplier.” I am 100% convinced that it was a scam. I would call up businesses, and try to convince them to stay on the line long enough for me to talk to them about their current utility bill. I would then ask them to fax me over their last bill, and we would analyze it, and let them know how much they could save if they fixed their rate with us. Oddly enough, I was actually qualified to hold this position. At school I worked for the Phonathon program, which meant that I called Alumni and asked them for donations. I picked this job at school because it paid the best. Eventually I worked my way up to becoming a student manager there for two years. So when I was scanning Craigslist for summer jobs, this telemarketing job was the only place that called me back. By the end of my time there, I was the employee there the longest besides management. How’s that for willpower?
I learned a lot that summer. Mostly, I saw the importance of finishing school, so I didn’t end up like my coworkers. I felt so bad for them. This was their reality, moving from job to job, desperately trying to make things work for themselves. The managers kept dangling the promise of wonderful commissions if they were able to get deals, and they really believed it. Instead the reality is that these managers would emotionally torment these people when people didn’t react positively to the scam operation that we were likely promoting. Everyone was set up to fail. I had an out, because I was leaving as soon as school was starting back up. These poor folks didn’t. So over the course of a few months I watched someone throw a chair through a door, had a bright red faced man who was likely high on coke yell “DEALS” at me, and was told to kill myself a few times over the phone.
So this leads me back to Japandroids and the song “Younger Us.” I made a mix CD for my car, and the first track was this powerful, driving Japandroids song. It screamed for a time when you felt younger, invincible, and had the pure joy of life pulsing through your veins. At 20 years old I pined for a younger me. I felt so old, so broken down every day. I was miserable calling up these people who I didn’t want to bother, and didn’t want to rip off. I did well enough for them not to fire me, but not enough for them to really notice I was there. I think maybe 2 of my leads materialized throughout this whole summer. Everyone else got wise and dropped out before they signed any paperwork.
In the summer of 2012 when this album came out, I was just out of school and unemployed. This time around I was looking for a job that would hopefully make me happy, and a few days after I saw Japandroids live for a second time, I did.
Today’s vinyl post is about how I worked as a Telemarketer for a summer.
128. Japanroids - Post-Nothing
I’m flexing the caveat of “semi-alphabetical order” today, and writing about this record in their catalog first. It would be difficult to tell the story out of order. When I think of this record, I think of being a sophomore in college. 2009 was a big year for them, and my friends and I all really liked this record a lot. The five of us would go to my friend Anna’s house, make food, drink, and listen to a lot of music. This record became a staple of our Taco Tuesdays, and we all played it on our respective radio shows. I loved the reckless abandon in the lyrics and music. However, I think they might have identified with it in a different way, as they were graduating in a few months.
One of my favorite memories with these songs was CMJ in 2009. Japandroids were one of the bands I was looking forward to seeing the most that entire week. We trudged through the rain, and through (what I thought were at the time) the bowels of Brooklyn to get there. You’ll laugh when I tell you that this show was at the Bell House in Gowanus. While I had lived in the suburbs of New York City my whole life, I had only been to Brooklyn once before; the Coney Island Aquarium when I was in first grade. Now that I live in Brooklyn and go to Gowanus often, the fact that I was sort of lost and had no idea where I really was (flip phone too!) is a little funny.
Japandroids were wonderful that night. Everything was so loud with his stacks of amps mowing everyone down. Looking back, it was really fun to see them in such a small place. In 2013, I saw Japandroids play on the mainstage of the Firefly Festival in Deleware. Just like at the Bell House, I was front row, championing the band I loved.
I’m back again!
This episode almost killed me, as audio problems threatened to not let us begin, but we powered through it. This episode features lots of great songs, and reminiscing about how we became friends through seeing The Hold Steady, who we are about to see next week open for The Replacements.
Soon we will be joining the newly formed “Vaguely Cultural Radio” podcast empire, so stay tuned for that! As always, thanks for listening.
I recorded this cover of a great Portastatic song this morning. I don’t think I messed it up too much…
My friend Cooper and I have been making beer for a few years now. First we would do it in college just for fun to share with friends. Now that we live 170 miles away from each other, beer making has become an excuse for us to visit each other, and hang out.
For no other reason than for fun, and the mantra of “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I entered our most recent beer (a Rye IPA) into the Brooklyn Wort home brewing competition. The drop off was at the bar a block from my apartment, and people seemed to like our most recent brew! So why not? Today I got the e-mail that we were one of 30 beers chosen to compete in the final round! If we win the people’s choice, we get to make beer at a brewery in Brooklyn for free, as well as some cash. If the critics choose us, we not only get money and to make beer, but we get to hold a party at this brewery for our friends and family. If we win, you’re invited.
Wish us luck, and thanks for encouraging us over the years to make some beer for you.