2. Song No. 31: “About Every 12 Hours,” Kids These Days
All These Interruptions, 2004
This album is what I talk about when I talk about the college radio station’s endless potential for hidden gems and new favorites.
My student media of choice was our college’s (ahem, Princeton-whooping and award-winning) newspaper. But for being someone who skipped class to go proofread in the newspaper office where the man I’d marry first made fun of my distinctly phallic university-generated email address (my maiden name was Johnson, an inauspicious surname when following the truncated “mad”), I spent a disproportionate amount of time in the rooms where 107.7 WRRC broadcast a truly eclectic commingling of music, endless sportsball chatter (not counting American football, since my university had the dubious honor of earning itself a lifetime ban in that corresponding collegiate league), dead air, near-miss f-bombs, inside jokes, and all-night music marathons that were really an excuse for about a dozen sleep-deprived co-eds to run around the student center at all hours and make 3 a.m. Dunkin’ dashes for all the coffee and Monsters and sugary treats our spring-semester-broke asses could afford.
The radio station was where some of my closest friends and I spent a week in the fall of 2004 grieving in ways that many of our young hearts had never before known when one of our own lost a brother and most of us lost a friend to a battle that started before his college experience and ended just months after he graduated. The newspaper office might be where my future husband comforted me as I buckled under the weight of learning how to be strong for everyone grappling with a loss that bypassed me by sheer chance of picking a major that didn’t intersect with the dearly, bitterly missed departed’s, but that radio station was where I got to know the same person who’s been my best friend ever since as she navigated the too-early loss of yet another friend.
But it was also, and mostly, an extension of our dorms. It was where most of us met up between classes or at the end of the day or turned friends’ radio shows into impromptu parties. It was where we blissfully napped on a couch that we pretended wasn’t more of a sperm bank than a sofa because the thing was just so damn comfy that all its sins of hygiene were forgiven in a way that showering in flip-flops also tends to nurture. It’s where I rifled through new music to borrow and old posters to keep.
“All These Interruptions” was the king of radio-station finds: The day we crossed paths either late 2004 was the birth of a permanent item on my desert-island album list. It definitely first evokes post-college memories of that day I spent the entire 88-mile-round-trip commute of my first job playing its second song (“The Hips (The Captain)”) on repeat for both drives, a tune that remains my undisputed favorite from a much-adored album and is currently my 18th-most-played song, according to some helpful Last.fm stats.
But this, its opening song, is special in its own right. I love when a first song sets the stage for what to expect from the entire album without giving all its secrets away while ALSO laying the introductory groundwork for not only an irresistible second song but also overall album to build on and explore. I think there’s something to be said for the suspense of waiting for the song right before your favorite track to yield the floor to the main reason you’re here. It’s like riding the momentum of rising action before your favorite part of the book, show or movie and you know that, yeah, this is pretty freaking good but just wait ’til the payoff of where it’s gonna take you next.
Plus, I need to pay tribute to the lyric “I’m asking for the last dance / Is it true i stood a chance?” and the mileage I got from it in the days of AIM away messages and the kind of overwrought profiles that only reluctantly maturing emo kids can muster.
(This piece also inspired one of my Stereo Stories submissions.)