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Partying like it’s 2003

Analise Lipari | Monday, September 1, 2008

I recently had the chance to see a Maroon 5, Counting Crows and Augustana concert in Michigan with friends from Notre Dame. We sat on the lawn with ticklish blades of grass between our toes, caught up about our summers and took in three fantastic hours of music.

What was funny about the concert, at least for me, was how many lyrics I knew during the final portion of the show, when Maroon 5 took the stage. It’s easy to forget that you know a song when you haven’t heard it in a while, but all of a sudden, the words came rushing back to me. Not just the hits, either, but songs like “Tangled” that hadn’t been released as singles.

It got me thinking – and Good Charlotte headlining the Show last Friday only reinforced my thoughts – about music I used to love.

Which brings me to my question: what kind of music did you listen to in high school?

If you’re like my hometown friends whose indie cred was ridiculous even then, you were probably discovering your love of Elliot Smith, the Strokes or Joy Division on vinyl. If you’re like the athletes who sat at the next cafeteria table, you stuck with as much rap as you could find – some Jay-Z, some Lil’ Jon, you name it. If you’re like the semi-goth girls I sat with during our dissection lab in Anatomy class, your tastes might have run towards Staind or Linkin Park, or maybe Marilyn Manson if you were feeling hardcore.

My music collection tended towards eclectic diversity – Garth Brooks and Echo and the Bunnymen still sit side by side in one of my iTunes playlists – but for a few glorious months in 2003, my main squeeze was undoubtedly Maroon 5.

To paraphrase the late, great Estelle Getty as “Golden Girls” matriarch Sophia Petrillo, picture it: your high school, 2003. Granted, you freshmen weren’t actually in high school in 2003, but use your imagination. I was a junior with a driver’s license and, luckily, an older sister who had the courtesy to graduate and give me her car. I spent my hours of driving to-and-fro listening to my new copy of Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane.” They sounded like this outrageous blend of raspy soul, angry rock and mysterious jazz. I was in deep music love, the kind of love I thought would last a lifetime.

I believe that, like a relationship, a person’s affection for a band can go through a series of recognizable stages. First, infatuation: you can’t stop listening to them, their melodies are aural perfection and their lyrics fit every situation you’ve ever experienced. Next, slight disillusionment: that experimental single they just released? Not that great. Then, the lead singer goes and marries some Hollywood starlet and names his first child Kumquat. You try to focus on the good parts of the relationship. Later, you settle into long-term commitment: you buy each subsequent album, even though their style has evolved. Then, you can’t remember who you were before the day you first heard their sound. You’re either bound for life, or you’re burning your CDs and running for the hills.

Okay, I digress. But it seems to me that the bands we loved in high school tend to follow this pattern – or rather, we do. Like that relationship with Johnny McQuarterback your sophomore year, your favorite high school band might not rank too highly on your iPod’s play count right now.

Maybe it’s maturity. You’d probably be a little weirded out if your neighbor’s favorite band hasn’t changed since the ninth grade. More likely, we’ve just moved on to other things.

But there’s nothing like going back to those bands you loved way back when. Like me, it might take a concert in Michigan to show you that their older music is still pretty darn good, and that the new stuff isn’t half bad either. As of the concert, I still hadn’t bought Maroon 5’s latest CD. Now, maybe I will