If the music you make is loud enough, you can’t hear a thing (tf)

Having kids of your own reminds you how hard it was being a kid. Especially when the teen years beckon.

I can still remember. And sometimes I still shudder.

It’s like a minefield.

I was never strong enough to disregard the flow of the crowd….even though I was not nearly notorious enough to not get lost in it most of the time. If I had stood up to be counted, I’m not sure many would have noticed anyway. But I tried to get along by going along, even if that meant doing mindless (and borderline and not so borderline legal) things. And maybe some things that hurt other kids. I was far from a bully….but can’t really recall ever standing up to one….or coming to the defense of somebody being bullied. I just kinda stood back and was thankful I wasn’t being beaten up on a daily basis. My 98 pound frame was not built for bravery.

Nor was it built for girls. I spent much of my time obsessing over females who probably didn’t know my name. I had a few “girlfriends”….the word then meaning the same as it does now. The one you sneak off with when everybody else pairs off at the house party or behind the skating rink. The very first girl I kissed didn’t even bother to take the gum out of her mouth, which should have been a sign that I was destined for the minor leagues. I was probably too revved up to notice at the time. But the girl did “dump” me soon after…..and as I recall barely acknowledged my existence for the next….oh 30 years or so. The dumping, by the way, took place the same way dumpings take place today. One of her friends was dispatched to drop the bomb. I was suicidal for about 12 hours and then a new girl smiled at me and I was all better. The heart is very resilient.

There was an “in crowd” of course. I was sorta-friends with them….one of them was kinda forced ’cause my Dad gave him a ride to school every morning. But still, you take what you can get. A few were complete assholes….which I knew at the time but dared not articulate because that’s the way it is with in-crowds. The ones that were assholes then, by the way, are even bigger assholes today. Funny how that works eh? It’s really not one of those “if I only knew then what I know now” moments when you think on it. It’s more the “if I’d only acted on what was, even then, blindingly obvious”. Leaders of in-crowds of 13 year olds are rarely known for their humanitarianism.

Eventually, I leaked away from all the drama when I fell in love with the guitar. I spent many a weekend night ensconced in my bedroom, pretending I was Pete Townshend….trying desperately to play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on an acoustic guitar that I bought for $150 out of the Paper Shop from a guy in Olyphant who lived in an apartment the size of a closet and had, from what I counted, 7 small kids. Clearly this guitar was cursed. But it was mine…..and I beat on the wretched thing for years. It saved me from taking headers off the Harrison Avenue bridge more than once. Even getting brutally dumped by a gorgeous blond cheerleader wasn’t fatal (how I’d gotten in there in the first place is still a mystery).

I was no longer a blatant follower. I was way more interested in the intricacies of “Quadrophenia” than my social standing amongst my peers (ironic when you consider that’s exactly what “Quadrophenia” deals with). I started to articulate my own angst by writing my own songs. For years they were all dreadful, but I got the hang of it eventually. I still consider songwriting a form of therapy….and though I dabbled in the stuff that alters minds, I’ve never had a high like knocking off a song I know is special. And my best ones? I think they’re all….in some way…..about teenagers. That feeling never goes away.

So that’s my sermon for the day. I’m glad I’m not a kid anymore. I wish there was more I could do to help my kids be kids. But it’s really something to go through alone. Either following the path trod by others, or finding your own and blocking out the catcalls of the tone-deaf.

If the music you make is loud enough, you can’t hear a thing.

–Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on October 1, 2011.

One Response to “If the music you make is loud enough, you can’t hear a thing (tf)”

  1. Ah, Tom, you hit the nail very aptly on the head with this one.

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