We’re talking about particular records. The question for today is, do you remember records from your teens that presented you an alternative life? I had one. Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, released when I was 16, posited a life, a culture, a town, a world that was so far from my own it was ridiculous. I was literally forced to get my driver’s license–driving terrified me, and even when, after three tries, I finally got my license at 17, I drove a ’63 Plymouth Belvedere (I totalled that one), a ’74 Dodge Dart (granny car!), and (somewhat impressively) a ’71 Pontiac Bonneville–and I couldn’t have worked on or talked about a car’s guts to save my life. Classwise, my mom was stay-at-home, and my dad made a very humble salary, but I always thought we were well-off, quite contrary to the abyssic confrontations in Springsteen’s most personal songs.
HOWEVER, I did in fact feel alienated ’77-’80, my high school years. I postulated a life about 35 degrees higher an angle than what I was seeing. Something a bit more dramatic, where the stakes were higher, where “the things we loved” that were “crushed in the dirt” were what we, nonetheless, strove for–it seemed my peers were shooting for something a little more casual, and temporal. When the rubber met the road, the record affected me this way: I meant it, man–sincerity was my goddam calling card, and as much as I thought that would be what set me apart, it was the thing that shot me down in flames. If I had just gotten my hands on The Dictators’ Go Girl Crazy instead, I’d have ended up less tortured. I vowed to show up in Candy’s room with total commitment; perhaps I should have striven to be a two-tub man, or a teengenerate. I did not, absolutely did not get, that girls just wanted to have fun–they weren’t interested in someone who was necessarily gonna get them the fuck out (maybe that’s more Born to Run), or blow that Camaro out in that first heat, they wanted to laugh, fiddle around, figure it out, exercise their hormones, and get on down the road.
Thus…this record is very important to me, but I am not sure it didn’t fuck me up.