Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I hope I don't grow out of The Shins like I did Garden State.

I don’t remember how I first heard about The Shins. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t from Natalie Portman, though she did try her hardest. Maybe Kat? A quick search through my Gmail tells me that, according to a chat record from 2007, I had already heard of The Shins but didn’t have all of their albums, at which point Kat sent me a bajillion files of music, as she so often did. She's very generous with good music. (PS: You know what’s weird? Reading chats from 2007. It’s like hopping in a time machine. What kind of life did you live, 2007!Jennie? Oh, beer and complaining? We are not so very different, you and I.)

ANYWAY. I have now listened to all of their albums so many times that if they were cassettes instead of CDs and mp3s, the tape would be completely worn out and broken from being played so often. Just ask Heidi, who lived with me when Wincing the Night Away came out, and dealt with me playing not only the album on repeat, but one song in particular, over and over and over and I just cannot believe she didn’t kill me. 

So, yeah, when I saw that The Shins were coming to Columbus, I immediately emailed Joe and told him we were going. Then I checked the date and realized WITH HORROR that the concert fell on my last night of volunteering of the year, the night we have a balloon launch and say goodbye before summer break. It would be in poor taste to skip volunteering for a concert on any night but on that night? No way.

I’m not gonna lie, you guys. I threw a little tantrum right there at my desk, then gathered my wits and checked the rest of the tour schedule, sighing with relief when I saw they were going to be playing in Cleveland on a Friday, so I would only have to take half a day off of work for the drive up there.

The concert was at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium, a venue that did not have a website I could find, which worried me a teeny tiny bit, but it ended up being a great venue even though the seats smelled a little like feet.  It didn’t matter, though, because having a seat at a concert is a magical experience, especially if all of the people in front of you realize that they too spent extra money to be able to sit and actually STAY IN THEIR SEATS. I sipped on my beer and enjoyed the people-watching until the show started and then my brain exploded from awesome because YOU GUYS I WAS FINALLY SEEING THE SHINS.

At dinner before the show, Joe had asked me what songs I really wanted to hear. I named a few off the top of my head (Australia, Kissing the Lipless, number 6 from the new album WHAT I’m rubbish at remembering song titles, leave me alone), but was having trouble picking favorites because I love so many.

Girl Sailor wasn’t a song that jumped to mind when Joe asked me the above question, but I was so happy to hear it at the concert that I almost cried. And not just because of the PMS that had made me all weepy at Wicked the previous night (wtf?) but because there’s a line in that song that I used to say to myself whenever I was feeling particularly angsty. I'd repeat the line in question, “a stronger girl would shake this off in flight, and never give it more than a frowning hour,” in the hopes of snapping myself out of whatever mood I was in and to remind myself to stop whining so damn much about everything. (I apparently even used it as a title to a nonsensical blog post ABOUT MY CAR, so I guess it wasn't always effective.)  

Wincing the Night Away came out a few weeks before I drove six hours to Knoxville, on my way to see a boy who didn’t like me as much as I liked him, and I’m fairly certain I listened to it the entire way there and back (which, let’s be completely honest, was probably responsible for a lot of my angsty feelings above). It was one of the last CDs I played in the car I was unnaturally attached to (again, see above), the one I complained about getting rid of even though it never started and leaked oil everywhere. It was the album I played if I was in a good mood, the album I played if I was in a bad mood, the album I played if I was bouncing off the walls or if I was so unhappy that all I could think to do was lie on my bedroom floor and listen to music until my heart stopped hurting. I tried to force it on everyone I knew, though I stopped short of placing my headphones on a stranger’s ears in a quiet waiting room (because ew, germs). 

Manic pixie dream girl damage aside, I don’t know that I’d say The Shins necessarily changed my life, but as I sat (yes, sat!) at that concert last week, listening to what was basically the soundtrack to my twenties, I took a moment to remember that person I used to be, ponder the person I am now, and wonder about the person I’ll become as I make my way through my thirties, whoever that may be. I’ll see her on the other side, I guess. I hope she still likes The Shins.


  1. Oh, Shins. Can you believe I still haven't gotten the new album? The grasshopper has surpassed the master I guess ;)

  2. So are you saying I should check out The Shins? Lol. Since you love them so much I'm going to do a listen (I love finding new-to-me music like this!).

  3. Kat, never!! Hee. To be fair, you have had just a little bit going on lately.

    Laural, yes, definitely check them out! Only don't tell me if you don't like them. Heh.

  4. I've been taking a break from Greader, so I'm late to the party, but I really, really like this post. It's nice to trace a trajectory of important music through your life. An ex of mine put "Kissing the Lipless" on the first mix he made for me in 2004 and so married those two things in my mind forever.

  5. Isn't it weird how that happens? Our brains are so strange. (Not just your brain and my brain, but brains in general. Hee.)

  6. Our brains specifically might be extra strange, though, heehee.

  7. Ha! Fair enough.