When Weezer released their first album, an eponymous work with a blue cover earning the title "The Blue Album", I was engrossed. Here was an album that I enjoyed from opening to close. I watched as the Buddy Holly song grew to behemoth proportions and became as nauseatingly overplayed as any Top 40 hit can be ("Hey Ya" was great, now it makes my eardrum rupture). I turned away from it. I consciously made an effort to tune it out and enjoy it as a part of the album. Listening to it today brings back memories of me in my basement room, sitting on the floor, rifling through Magic cards, the CD spinning in my player. I sang along to that whole album in my head a thousand times. Never out loud. Someone was always home and didn't need to hear my impression of a hundred cats in a cement mixer. I listened to that album, those lyrics, the rocking, wailing guitars and it soaked into me. It became the soundtrack to my life for a good few months.
I would occasionally visit it from time to time over the next few years, re-living the joy it brought me and indulging in some harmless nostalgia.
Then one day, while I was doing my Masters degree, a group of us decided to go on a camping trip. It was Peter, his sister, her boyfriend, Brian, Mark, his ex-girlfriend (kinda-sorta) and myself. We were to drive to the site overnight and wait outside the booking office to book sites for the Labour Day weekend. It was first-come, first-served so we wanted a site, a good site, if possible.
The drive up was split into two groups, Brian, Mark and myself in my (now-wife, then-) girlfriend's car, everyone else in a mini-van. Brian was exhausted; he hadn't slept well all week. Mark and I were super-excited to go camping. We were bouncing off the walls. We left Montreal around sunset and halfway there it was pitch black. It was three hour trip and Brian was asleep into the first hour. Mark started poking through some of the CDs I brought since we were out of radio range and radio static makes for poor driving music.
He and I swapped tales of love for the CD and we popped it in.
It was the end of summer and September in Quebec is my favourite month. The days are not too hot but still warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts. The nights, well, the nights are a perfect symphony of weather. A cool breeze that makes you want to wrap up tight with a tinge of the August humidity that keeps you warm. Together, a bliss of comfort from Mother Nature's heart. That September night, Mark and I rolled down a long Canadian highway, a rectangle of night sky and concrete before us, a sleeping man behind us and Weezer's "Blue Album" flying out the speakers.
The first song was set at a reasonable level, after all, we had a sleeping passenger to consider. But, slowly, the volume rose. I don't know how or who started it, but by the second song, Mark and I were mercilessly belting out full-volume accompaniments to Rivers. We both knew every word, every guitar screech and solo. We were obnoxious, off-tune and letting it rip at 120 km/h. Brian didn't stir, he was in some deep REM coma.
Eventually, the album wrapped up and our singing was concluded, breathless and exhilarated. The camping trip itself ended up being outstanding. Amusing anecdotes of canoeing, breathtaking scenerey and sunsets, we even managed to get a site with a little bit of beach. Some wine under the nighttime sky watching satellites and shoting stars. Flawless weather. Great company. But the memory of me, alive, brazenly blasting out a piece of myself through a slim disc, stands with me to this day. It is etched in the secret place we all have for moments that thrill us. I may not always be conscious they are there but when that feeling is evoked that surge of memory brings a quiet smile to my mouth and, once again, a trill of vitality courses through me.
A dark, crowded car. Trees, deep green and innumerable, flying by my periphery. Friendship, a bond that resonates. And music, music that lives inside of me, is still a part of me, escaping this physical shell into the glorious shape of a memory.