Five Tracks That Got Me Through Young Stupid Adulthood

alternative rock audiocassettes

Yep. Those are cassettes. This is how old I am.

If I learned anything after the fact from Buffy‘s depressing sixth season, it’s that our early 20s is when we humans are prone to committing our worst mistakes, making our stupidest decisions, missing our best opportunities, undergoing our darkest times, and discovering all the best reasons to fear and loathe ourselves. For many people those were also hallmarks of their teenage years, but I was a late starter on the journey to self-flagellation.

A childhood in which I was raised to “find my own path” (read: wander blindly through life’s shadowy forests without a tour guide or even a working flashlight) left me with very few tools for suffering the worst trials and shouldering the heaviest burdens, too many of which I brought on myself. By age thirty a series of improbable coincidences and extensive rethinking sessions had led me at long last to an illuminated trail that’s taken me toward much more reliable means and sources of support and encouragement than I ever had during my extended, two-time college-dropout phase.

Before I walked that way, all I had was music.

Of all the hundreds of songs that have caught my attention throughout my life, five in particular stand out as rare instances in which I was moved by music, moments of lyrical lucidity and emotional truth that resonated deep down in that mushy core whose existence the common guy denies, moments I returned to again and again for comfort, advice, consolation, deep thoughts, and/or a boost of spirit. These were five solid shots struck at the foundation of the oddly designed structure that passes for my life.

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