56. Song No. 467: “Anyone. Anyone?” Dashboard Confessional
The Drowning EP, 2001
If any band can take credit for completely redirecting where my musical tastes were going, it’s Dashboard Confessional. I discovered this band not much more than a year before Chris Carrabba became the omnipresent emo-kid poster boy; before then, I was all scatter-shot classic rock and showtunes and whatever song caught my attention for a little while. Dashboard Confessional was what I didn’t know I’d been looking for, giving me the definitive, concrete language to keep asking for more of what I finally knew I wanted as the catalyst for refining my taste in music.
Alphabetically, “As Lovers Go” popped up in rotation not too long after this song, a one-two punch of a reminder that I used to love this band so much that I cried the first time I saw Carrabba, his guitar and the barstool they shared at one of the handful of Philly venues that defined my high school and college years. “As Lovers Go” might be the song that got stuck in my head and is still laying casual claims to its space there but this one just signifies something greater than simply loving one song. Needing to find this CD was when I started to understand the all-consuming and adoring compulsion that drives being a completist.
By the time “As Lovers Go” and its accompanying album came out, I was gearing up for my sophomore year of college and my ardent love for the emo-scene gateway drug of Dashboard Confessional had already waned considerably. A college classmate once asked how to tell emo from indie, to which I glibly replied that whether or not the listener was in high school or college was the key differential, but every self-deprecating comment has some kernel of truth in it. Still, my taste in music had become much less emotional punk and far more stripped down, melodic and lo-fi college radio, and Dashboard didn’t deliver quite what I wanted anymore. (Still, A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar had its highlights and I apparently STILL can’t help myself from belting out “As Lovers Go” with every ounce of unabashedly earnest heartache and hopefulness that a Dashboard Confessional song thrives on.)
“Anyone. Anyone?,” however, and I met on the upward trajectory of my love for Dashboard. The Drowning EP was one of my first moments of tracking down a hard-to-find CD. That unexpected victory of finding a used copy at the dearly departed indie record store/second home of my youth (pour one out for Tunes‘ flagship location, folks) is an unmatched dopamine rush that I truly miss from the days when searching for certain obscure CDs was a veritable treasure hunt. Hearing the song for the first time years rocked me back to the thrill of putting a seemingly disproportionate amount of effort into locating what was essentially three songs with the dogged determination and singular focus seemingly more suited to scavenger hunt with more payoff than tracking down seven minutes and 12 seconds of music.
And even as an adult with a marriage and a career and a house and bills, the verse that begins with “Get a little anxious sometimes / You’ll be gone and I’ll be left behind / Get a little nervous sometimes / It’ll be my cue and I’ll forget my lines” and ends with “Never really mastered disinterest” STILL speaks to me far more than it probably should.