Tuesday, November 09, 2004


"Are you gonna live your life wonderin’/Standing in the back lookin’ around?
Are you gonna waste your time thinkin' how you’ve grown up or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna be the way you want/Even at 25, you gotta start somewhere."
- A Praise Chorus

The cherubic teenage girl stood in the rear of Webster Hall, in the safety of distance. It seemed that was her usual spot. She had probably found comfort in the background for most of her adolescent life. I couldn't help but think that she, like most of the people in this room tonight, had at one point felt the crippling effect of alienation in some capacity.

Wearing a baby-T and a scarf still wrapped around her neck, the young lady sang along with every word as if they were spontaneously emerging from her innermost thoughts. As if this moment, every moment was urgent and necessary. This was about the boy she had a crush on that ignored her. Or about her parents that loved her dearly but couldn't understand her. She was unhappy with how she looked, her personality, her life. Something had to change. But right now, she was in a room full of people who understood many of those thoughts.

The ambiguously effective lyrics of Jimmy Eat World could be samplings from a suburban diary. They are not deep or near poetic. They are understandable and hard-hitting. Jim Adtkins, lead singer of the Arizona band, is empathic like an emotional sponge absorbing the fears of his audience and then squeezing them back like the water of articulation. Despite my age--older than a majority of the audience--I felt just as comforted as they did. I reveled in my bittersweet experience and let my pretensions go. I wanted to be healed through the music.

"Hey, don't write yourself off yet/It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can/Everything will be just fine...
You know you're doing better on your own, so don't buy in.
Live right now/Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn't matter if it's good enough for someone else.
It just takes some time"
- The Middle

The boy standing next me, pogo-ing up and down throughout the night, sang along, as well. With his fist almost permanently pumped in the air, this was therapy. A cathartic experience not unlike a session of release. All the times he felt uncertain about his life and his future...for the next hour, he forgot it all. Most of the time, amongst his friends, he felt awkward. He also gave himself a hard time, thinking that most girls would never be interested in him. That he would never find someone that shared all his unique interests. Perhaps he would be lonely for a very long time. But tonight there was hope. Tonight, he felt comforted. Like he belonged.

You could say I'm placing too much significance on Jimmy Eat World but I actually think that they are that important. With the disappearance of rap-metal and the disproportionate dismissing of emo, feelings and expressions are looked down upon. Rock stars with apathetic attitudes are the most credible. Everything else (that is not under the category of singer/songwriter) is either laughed at or mocked. Granted Jimmy Eat World has an awful band name, but they can be saviors for many.

For the girl in the back. For the boy standing next to me. For the alone, the confused, the bewildered.
Even for me.

"Youll sit alone forever/If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?/I'm here and now I'm ready
Holding on tight/Dont give away the end
The one thing that stays mine"

I can't help it. The past few months I have accessed my emotions in an unprecedented manner and there are times when the simplest sentiment can affect me. Incredibly, I have finally come to the realization that I am a man and sometimes being a man can be discovering potency and poignancy in the cliche and simplistic or finding love and meaning in the most unlikely of places. And moroever, being okay with all of that. I am tired of decoding and interpreting. An expression taken from the lyrics of "23" hit me sharply in the heart. Halfway through the show, I found myself singing--no, shouting--along. In fact, by the end of the night, my voice was nearly shot. While looking around the crowd at girls named Tracey and boys named Brad, I finally understood the allure of a primal scream. I let myself go. I joined in on the chorus. I danced and embarrassed the people I was with. The words became my words. They became my thoughts, my pain, my story.

I felt like I was fourteen again. But only on the inside. On the outside, I was still a man. And as mentioned before, despite the confusion that comes along with said realizations, I was more than okay with that.


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