Thursday, May 20, 2010

Earworm: Where'd You Go?

It's day two of waking up and writing about whatever song is running through my head. So far, so good.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones "Where'd You Go?"

Still very much anchored by my love of the Cure and the Smiths, as well as seeing They Might Be Giants more times than I can remember, I started branching out into other genres of music. I enjoyed songs like "Our House" by Madness on the radio in my youth, but had never heard ska as a viable source to the angst-ridden soundtrack of my youth.

About halfway through high school, I discovered a band called the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I first heard them with a 1993 song called "Someday I Suppose," which was featured on some monthly VHS video subscription that I had signed up for in a fit of wishing my parents had cable so I could watch 120 Minutes in the comfort of my own home. Sure, we would go over to my grandmother's house and I would turn on MTV, but they would always be playing some terrible pop block or Headbanger's Ball. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been happy to have any form of music on MTV.

The Bosstones made ska music, but it wasn't like anything I had ever heard before. They played "ska-core;" loud but tuneful songs with a frontman who sounded like he could scare away the meanest dog in my suburban neighborhood. The entire Don't Know How to Party album was in constant rotation in my three-disc shelf system.

Several months later, I remember having to participate in Secret Santa for choir. Each day, while everyone else got little trinkets and Hershey's Kisses stuffed into their sheet-music boxes, mine remained empty. It was pretty depressing. On the final day, however, a single gift appeared in mine. I opened it up to find More Noise and Other Disturbances, an earlier Bosstones album that I didn't know existed. "Where'd You Go?" was featured among a ton of other great songs with relatively low-production values.

The Bosstones have had their ups and downs over the years, most notably receiving one-hit-wonder status with their 1997 song "The Impression That I Get" from the album Let's Face It. I reviewed the album for my college newspaper, correctly predicting that if any one song was going to be a hit, that would be the one. You couldn't escape from it that summer.

I was introduced to other ska bands through their music but none of them ever seemed quite as vital as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They're still kicking around with great albums like 2002's A Jackknife to a Swan and 2009's Pin Points and Juke Joints. I buy each album as it is released, happily diving into their back catalog every time.

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