In the last 48 hours I’ve rediscovered my love for three things:
- Flannel sheets – because waking up is hard to do.
- My retainer – technically I don’t have to wear it anymore, but I like how it keeps my teeth in line
- The Get Up Kids’ album On A Wire.
Yesterday I had a craving for the Get Up Kids, and after listening to them all day I quickly remembered how much I love this album.
Now, I admit that I jumped on the GUK bandwagon pretty late. Honestly, I thought the name sounded too teen-emo-rock, so I never gave them much respect. That label wouldn’t have been altogether wrong, but I still probably shouldn’t have been so dismissive. I tagged along with friends to one of their shows three or four years ago because The Anniversary was opening for them. At that point, On A Wire was GUK’s latest album so they played quite a bit of it and, well, I really enjoyed the show.
I remember my friend Chad (loyal fan) hating On A Wire, and I guess I can’t blame him – if you’re expecting the normal GUK sound, you will be dissapointed. For me, however, it was this album that made a fan of me in the first place. The lead singer had been involved in a side project, The New Amsterdams (now one of my faves), for a few years at that point and the mellowness had carried itself over to On A Wire.
It wasn’t until I travelled abroad though that I really became a fan. I was feeling terribly homesick during my first month in Australia, and I remember walking into a cd store and dropping an obscene amount of money (you’re lucky if you can get a CD in Australia for less than 30 dollars) on CDs that reminded me of home – Ash’s Intergalactic Sonic 7’s, TMBG’s Dial-a-song, and Get Up Kids’ On A Wire.
Ahh, how many hours of my life were spent walking (there was a lot of walking) here and there with this album blaring from my discman? I distinctly remember walking to Kmart, reminiscing about my dorm friends while listening to Wish You Were Here, and walking home from Uni listening to Campfire Kansas (Now I’m either easily moved by music/memories or I’m overwhelmingly emo, but at the lyric “we’d stay afloat and make the most of everything,” I recalled a particularly touching moment with one of my MN friends and noticed a dramatic and solitary tear stream down my face – not unlike Jim’s in last year’s season finale of The Office, you can’t make this stuff up).
So, okay, this album brings back good memories of reflection and musical comfort. Fair enough. But let’s get down to “brass tacks,” it’s also just a great disc!
This is the kind of album that works perfectly for a rainy day carride (like today) or for a long walk (to me, walks have always done wonders for seeking clarity). It’s the kind of album that you’re so convinced is putting to voice your inner dialogue that you go out of your way to read the lyrics – only to find you can’t actually relate so well to the feeling of a father returning after 24 years of abandonment (but the music makes you really feel like you can, doesn’t it?).
It starts fluidly with Overdue, a ballad with the aforementioned subject matter. Then it moves to the catchier Stay Gone, and continues through leaving a few gems in its wake (High as the Moon and Wish You Were Here are a few notables). Campfire Kansas comes in at track 9, it’s pretty and it feels like this should probably be the climax of the cd. That is, until you hear Hannah Hold On where the album reaches its culmination. Now I’m probably biased as this has become one of my two favorite songs ever, but I’ve gotta say it: That Hannah Hold On, it’ll break your heart. It’s one of those enchanting songs that seems to stir up lots of questions without really offering up a whole lot of answers (in a good, freeing, way). It’s sincere and so beautiful that I’ve found myself wishing I felt heartbroken and hopeless/hope-seeking just so I could claim some of its beauty myself.
Between Campire Kansas and Hannah Hold On are two tracks that have always been a little dissapointing after CK. Grunge Pig is my least favorite on the album (though it’s not really all that bad), and I do sort of like The Worst Idea, but it’s nothing to write home about.
There were two years between this album and the next, Guilt Show. I listened to On A Wire consistently for a few months before Nada Surf’s Let Go took over my discman. When GS came out, I thought it was pretty and since it was even mellower than On A Wire, I figured it was probably better. In retrospect, Guilt Show, although there are some real gems, is much less satisfying to listen to – I think it lacks a cohesiveness. I regret putting On A Wire on the shelf for as long as I did.
In a few days I’ll probably get tired of it and put it away for another few years, but for the moment I’m really glad it’s been on loop!
What did you think? Hated it? Loved it? Think it sounds more like The New Amsterdams (fair criticism) than Get Up Kids? Hate music? Don’t care? Just checking in to see if Maren or Lane has had their baby yet?
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