Officially, college ended at 12:01 this morning, while I was standing next to a fire pit at a party I was pretty unattached to. There are no overarching statements I could make without laughing a whole lot, but there are a few songs.
When I got to Earlham College back in late august of ’04, I had cut most of the threads tying me back home, watched an awful large amount of teen movies about heading off to college, had written superficially permanent goodbye poems to cities and places I would return to every fall and most summers, and I knew from the moment I left our rented car into the deluge that had hit, that I was ready to induce earthquakes. It’s unbelievable and almost indescribable, feeling that simultaneously insecure and invincible, both entirely detached and also reaching out to anyone whose got ears and a cool looking T Shirt on. I got lucky and found a good people and only made an ass out of myself in the best ways. There’s just a list of clichés that’s easy and a lot fun to run through, but Mister Westerberg gets them better than I could. Even though the song is about anticipation, sentimentality sustains this one. I like the live version better because it’s sloppy as shit and twice as excited.
But for me, the song that has followed me more through this place, even when my hard drive crashed and I couldn’t listen to it for months, is two minutes and nineteen seconds of a guitarist, a drummer, and a trumpet player. It’s either serendipity that Swearing at Motorists are from the perfectly tiny, perfectly nearby quasi-tropolis of Dayton, Ohio, or it makes perfect sense and they capture a mood that this part of the Midwest finds itself in. both loving you indefinitely, and wanting to get as far away from you as its feet will carry. The song Calgon Take Me Away is hesitant, and its lyrics are both comforting and outlashing. it’s momentum has to rebuild from scratch at least twice, but the whole thing, lyrics, drums, and that perfect balloon-that-just-got-away-from-you trumpet part gives it levity and a smirk along. The song is as ambiguous as the nights that ended at 12:17 when 12:17 might as well have been 9:12, and I love it when the grammatical junkpile of, “but you say you see right through me, and me doesn’t know who is he is anyway” hits because, yeah, that’s the time I came to in a creek pumping a keg or waking up across campus and realizing that over here the sun shines in in the morning, not just when its setting, or a thousand other memories I’m sure I have and you probably have too, just remember one as the coda climbs up and Dave Doughman slurs his way through the last time he says “and I said lord can it be all right once in awhile,” because the way the guitar clears the song out like scraping the last bit of margarine out of the plastic that someone left on the counter from all those times when toast and tea and talking (and of course something to get us drunk or at least something pomo to tie our shoelaces together and make us start again) was how we got through the winter and smile at a not there yet spring and count the number of times it’ll happen again. I thought the title of the song was making reference to a Greek God I never knew. Turns out its from a soap commercial.