I was a mildly angsty teenager -- angsty enough to listen to music and feel something, but not so angsty as to feel actual angst for more than a few minutes at a time. I think this is a good temperament to shoot for.
When I was a freshman in college, I was at school six hours from home and a hurricane was hurtling toward my hometown, my family, and all of the friends I was desperately missing. In one of my moments of angst, I thought, "If they're going to get hit by a hurricane, I'm going to be there with them," jumped in my car, and sped home (I literally sped. I got a ticket in the middle of nowhere Mississippi.) listening to the song "Hurricane" by Something Corporate on repeat.
you don't do it on purpose but you make me shake / now I count the hours till you wake / with your baby's breath sweet symphonies / come on sweet catastrophe
Whenever I needed to be angsty, Something Corporate was there for me with lines like "she needs to hear she's beautiful" and "you can tell me why you just don't fit in/and how you're gonna be something" and, when my mom died, an entire song called Ruthless. Her name was Ruth.
I stood in line for hours to be in the front row at shows; to meet the lead singer Andrew McMahon. For high school art, I did a photography project based on Something Corporate lyrics. I posed my friend Michael holding a bouquet of flowers in the doorway of a half constructed house in my neighborhood (maybe when the door gets broke down, love can break in.) and, in the darkroom, watched my favorite song come to life in a tub of developer.
I was very deep.
And then, for whatever reason, I stopped needing music to help me feel things. I left this band and its words with my high school self's "problems." I was vaguely aware that Andrew McMahon was still around - making music, dealing with a terrible cancer diagnosis, fighting cancer, beating cancer, making music.
And then, when I was six months pregnant, he re-emerged into my life with a song called Cecilia and the Satellite, about his baby girl, Cecilia.
And I remembered how music can help you feel things.
Last month, I convinced my friend Bri to go to with me to Andrew McMahon's Minneapolis concert at First Ave. She had a baby two days after I did, and as soon as I had her listen to Cecilia and the Satellite, she was on board. We were sitting in a restaurant just before the concert, drinking wine and eating tater tots like the classy new moms we are, and I was telling her how far back my Andrew McMahon fandom went.
"I even brought one of the photos I developed to a concert," I said out loud for the first time since high school, cringing, "and handed it to him after the show. It felt very important."
We laughed at former me.
"I wonder if he still has it," Bri said. "I wish we could ask him."
And then he walked into the restaurant.
Seriously. He was wearing a giant coat, because Minneapolis, and his wife and baby -- the Cecilia -- were right behind him. He greeted some fans around the restaurant, and walked right past me and disappeared as we sat there, frozen, our question unasked and unanswered.
We laughed at current me.
We laughed at timing. At pictures of our babies. At how many tater tots we consumed. And then we ducked into the concert and marveled at how the dad in the coat that had just brushed past us was now jumping on a piano, moving hundreds of people to tears.
And then we blogged about it -- the 2015 version of standing in line to tell an artist how much their work means to you.