1. In my senior year of high school, I took weekend classes at Pratt. Though Pratt’s campus is located in Brooklyn, the class met at the Puck Building. (People outside of NYC might recognize it as the building that was used for exterior shots of Grace’s office on Will & Grace.) Anyway, I had to commute into Manhattan on MetroNorth, and then take a brief subway ride down to Bleeker Street, and for some reason, I got into the habit of always listening to this particular song while on the subway. (I think it’s because I’d start the album as soon as the train pulled into Grand Central, and I would catch the 6 train right around the time “Date With IKEA” was over.) The first few times it was probably an accident, but it became a ritual, and ten years later I can’t hear the song without thinking about that period when I was so happy and optimistic and the weather was always weirdly perfect.
To provide a bit of context, only six months later, I’d be stuck in a depression that wouldn’t fully lift for two years, but everything in the spring of 1997 was just about right. I can never relate to people who had a hard time in high school — I only have happy memories from that period. I was happy mainly because I felt like my future was bright and wide open, and that certainty made me confident and enthusiastic. When I was in college, I felt disappointed by virtually everyone and everything, my confidence mutated into arrogance, and circumstances made me feel trapped and isolated. The sunny, easygoing music that defined my spring of ’97 — Pavement’s Brighten The Corners, Blur’s self-titled album — gave way to the epic misanthropic angst of the two records I heard the most in the second half of that year — Radiohead’s OK Computer, and Blur’s The Great Escape. (Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out and The Fall’s 458489 A Sides kinda fall halfway between those two extremes, I guess, but I associate them more with the earlier period.)
2. Even after all this time, it still makes me laugh when I think about how easy it can be to mis-hear the title phrase as “Ode To Bacon.” It’s not even very funny! Similarly, I am overly amused by how you can substitute the “we need secrets, we need se-crets-crets-crets” line in “Gold Soundz” for “Ryan Seacrest, Ryan Sea-crest-crest-crest.”
3. I can think of very few lyrics about breaking up with someone that are more mature, kind-hearted, and thoughtful than “time came that we drifted apart to find an unidentical twin.”
4. I’ll always associate Brighten The Corners with being 17, but I think that I’m only just now growing into the “holy cow, dude, I’m a grown-up and so are all of my friends” sentiment of the record. Spiral Stairs throws himself into the trappings of suburban stability, and Stephen Malkmus does his best to search for alternatives, but with his mind set on responsibility. They are both a little bit cynical about their choices and options, but they’re both earnestly trying to figure out who they want to be for the rest of their lives.
(Click here to buy the original studio recording on the Brighten The Corners album from Matador.)
Elsewhere: My review of 1408 is up on The Movie Binge but, ah, it’s not exactly my best work. However, I strongly recommend checking out some other recent posts on the site, most especially Erik Bryan’s hilarious take on Evan Almighty, Meghan Deans’ witty assessment of Lady Chatterley, and Bryan Charles’ very personal account of watching You Kill Me alone on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Also: My new Hit Refresh column is up on the ASAP site with mp3s from the Sea and Cake, Arthur & Yu, and My Teenage Stride.