Take This to Your Grave, Track Three: “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy?”
I’ve abandoned this post three times in the last week because I keep thinking I have nothing. I’ve had three different ideas, and some-hundred words into each idea, I’ve realized that they weren’t going anywhere. It is 1:43 AM on Friday morning, and I need to abandon my computer to get ready and leave for work at 6:30. I’ve already lost 40-some minutes listening to the stream of the new Paramore album. This is crunch time, fewer than five hours until I need to have something ready. Despite thinking about this post all week, longer even, I have nothing to show for it.
I’ve been trying to think of what this post should be since I decided to start this project. This post always seemed important. This is, after all, the first Fall Out Boy song I ever heard. I wanted to weave some grand, epic tale of Midwestern adolescence, of tooling around in a Target store as I had so many other weekday afternoons of my youth, hearing this song in the background, and having it catch my fancy. I think in one draft I approached the screen in wonder, needing to catch a closer glimpse of what these artists were named so that I might sample their wares. Each time I tried to attach some kind of outsized significance to this event, it felt wrong, because it wasn’t a significant event. I heard a song, thought it sounded pretty good, and decided to buy the album. That was the entirety of the thought process.
That story does not good web content make. This is a blog about Fall Out Boy songs. (Please ignore that the only thing I have said about this song in two paragraphs is that it is pretty good.) If I am writing a blog exclusively about this band and their songs, I should have a profound attachment to the band, and the first time I heard this band should be a slam-bang whiz-pow moment. All the noises from the ’60s Batman TV series or, if you are so minded, the noises from Bjork’s “It’s Oh So Quiet,” those are the noises that should apply to this moment, bang, zoom, ka-zap, the moment should have been filled with onomatopoeic explosion descriptors. It shouldn’t have been just another moment.
Of course, if we are thinking of my relationship with Fall Out Boy as a story, then it would make sense that it started off quiet. The intro is supposed to draw someone in; “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy?” drew me in, its hook is literally catchy, it caught my attention in a space where so many songs faded into the background. (I spent so much time perusing the CD section of Target I still have the first verse of Crossfade’s “Cold” committed to memory.) It’s meant to outline the basics of the story in such a way that a reader is intrigued enough to stay in the world and see how the characters develop. It would be a daring narrative move to put the climax in the intro. It can be pulled off, Memento immediately springs to mind, but you would need to be doing something unconventional with the narrative to make it work, as Memento did. This is not an experimental Fall Out Boy blog. My life, in regards to this particular pop/punk band, follows a traditional narrative progression. Boy hears band. Boy enjoys band. Boy’s relationship with band goes through some degree of tumult a boy and band find out who they are. It’s a basic story.
And the beginnings of this particular relationship have various threads of commonality with the beginnings of other relationships with other things I love. The first Kendrick song I ever heard was “Cartoons & Cereal,” which I turned off after one minute because there was a weird high-pitched voice talking about giving birth or something, didn’t have time for it. The first time I saw a film written by Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I thought it was just OK, quite weird, but just OK. There’s countless examples of TV shows, mostly sitcoms, I stuck with after a rough first few episodes which went on to reward my patience. You don’t always immediately love the things that end up being your favorite. (So is Fall Out Boy your favorite band?) What? No! Don’t be silly! It’s probably The Wonder Years. (But… This blog…?) NOT NOW, ME Sometimes you think something is just OK, and you realize later how powerful it is, the impact it has on you.
That’s not what we’re conditioned to believe about love, though. Love is supposed to be this wondrous, powerful thing that is always felt and always felt super fucking hard, but that is almost never true. One of my favorite jokes in How I Met Your Mother comes in a second season episode titled “Brunch.” The show is built around the idea that the main character, Ted, is telling his children every single detail building up to the moment he met their mother. “Brunch” is an episode in part about Ted’s relationship with his parents, who inform him they have been separated for a long while in this episode. Ted complains he doesn’t know anything about his parents; he doesn’t even know how they met. “Oh, it’s a great story,” Ted’s dad replies. “It was at a bar!” I love that. Ted is on this quest to give meaning to every small moment he experiences, and his dad reminds him that sometimes moments are moments, and you don’t always know what moments will end up being the most significant. The first time one meets someone special, there is 0% chance one has any inkling that the person they just met will end up being special, that this moment is one they will have to recount for the rest of their life. They might think it was just another moment, and expunge it from their memory immediately, only to need to recover the details later.
So it goes. “Grand Theft Autumn” is a song I love dearly that I barely remember hearing for the first time. (Does this call the entirety of the “Tell That Mick” post into question? I SURE AS HELL HOPE IT DOES!) I didn’t think it was that big a deal when I was 13. There was no way I could have known that, in 14 years, I was going to spend hours of my life attempting to capture that moment in a unit of hot web content, culminating in a 2:37 AM writing session fueled by Paramore (a band that didn’t exist at the time) and the promise of coffee and Car Boy if I have hit some arbitrary word count I feel is OK for a post pulled out of my ass four hours before deadline. 1,159. We did it, ma. I don’t know what we did, there’s a weird aside about How I Met Your Mother that ends up serving as the big thesis statement, but it is something that we have done. Congarts.