I’m in a relationship with the sun and it is complicated

For the past week or so, Charm City has been hit by the same heat wave that has been terrorizing a huge chunk of the country. With highs in the upper 90s, heat indexes of 105 or higher, and relative humidities of 60, 70, 80%, it has been absolutely miserable here. And despite working in an office that seems to get colder the hotter it is outside, I have been hard pressed to keep from flashing back to the alarmingly large part of my childhood that was spent heat sick in Southern Arizona.

It is ironic now to see me shunning sunlight in the middle of July when I would practically kill to get some of it’s warmth and Vitamin D in the pit of January. Readers in the know are well acquainted with my dislike for weather most of the year. It’s safe to say that if you can name a season, I can probably regale you with several reasons why I dislike it. Even the times of year I actually look forward to are tainted by their proximity to the seasons I despise. I long for fall color in July, but then spend all my time walking through October’s red and yellow drifts of leaves preemptively shivering over the February winds to come. Since moving to the East Coast six years ago, I have learned to fear and loath Winter with a fiery passion that is the only thing that can keep me warm in the depths of its icy grip.

But nothing, nothing can erase my in-grown, nurtured-from-birth, unholy hatred of summer. It doesn’t even matter that the heat wave currently holding my current city of residence captive will roll away on the crest of low pressure system within the next few days. Or that for the most part summer in Charm City hardly even be compared to August in the Old Pueblo. It is hot and humid here now, therefore a little voice at the back of my head is constantly screaming doom and gloom to the rest of my psyche. It is unreasonable. It is silly and childish. And ultimately my struggle against an entire season is futile. I know this. But I just can’t shake that icky feeling of resentment for a climate that includes things like heat indexes, code orange air pollution warnings, and the dreaded beast known as humidity.

All last fall and winter, I kept focusing on the sun. I posted pictures of sunlight filtering through leafy trees and pushed myself to walk outside in freezing weather to soak up every little bit of goodness from the sun’s weak rays. I truly longed for sunny days and warm weather and I have tried to keep that feeling foremost in my mind. It is unhealthy to make yourself crazy all the time. Constantly longing for something else instead of appreciating what you have is the best way to live an unhappy life. And I think I was actually doing pretty well this year. I even survived a week in the suffocatingly humid blanket that is Orlando in July without throwing a hissy fit about it. But this week has sorely been trying my patience.

And to top it all off, I have once again discovered that my subconscious is a bastard with a wicked sense of humor because I keep finding myself humming It Must Be Summer by Fountains of Wayne. Go figure.

Your Civic Duty: Record Store Day

I think this might my longest radio silence since I began this blog almost 2 years ago. (Holy crap! Has it been so long?) Suffice it to say that spring has sprung and the day job is positively humming away like a steam locomotive heading straight for a bridge that is no longer there (read: no end in sight and picking up speed). Add to this the bitter reality that my brain has simply not been cooperating enough lately to even contemplate putting my fingers to a keyboard outside of work and you have the complete recipe for a silent blog. (I know, excuses, excuses! Whine, whine, bitch, bitch, etc.) But what, you may ask, could possibly be so important that I would attempt to overcome my stifling writer’s block on a sunny spring day after a long day at work. Only one thing my friends: your civic responsibility.

Yes, just like it is the duty of every American citizen to vote, to help wayward turtles across the street to safety, and to wave at your friendly neighborhood crossing guard, you have the duty to support your local, independent small business owners in mid-April. And not that creepy hole in the wall storefront that sells crabs. No, no, I mean the ones who will sell you that new Vampire Weekend album you’ve been jonesing for. That’s right, folks! Saturday, April 20th is Record Store Day (my very favorite secular holiday!)

If the next question bursting from your lips is, “What the heck is Record Store Day?” then obviously you’ve had your head stuck in the clouds. Well never fear, my dear deprived readers, for all will be explained with my handy-dandy Record Store Day fact sheet:

What: Record Store Day
When: Saturday, April 20th (all 4/20 jokes unspoken)
Time: All day
Where: Participating venues in every state and most cities. Click here to check your local listing.

But the most important question is why? In the modern world, music is available everywhere, sometimes even for free. All you have to do is grab a computer or IOS device, punch a few keys, and music is practically thrown at you. No muss, no fuss, no dragging your butt down the street, no shirt or shoes required. But also… no soul, no joy, no heart. Some of my happiest memories are roaming the miles of aisles in record stores; walls crammed with posters; teenagers running loose in the stacks; brushing elbows with both young and old, black and white, hipster and redneck. And there is no substitute for riffling through piles of albums, finding that one that you absolutely HAVE to have, plunking your money down on the counter, and rushing home to listen to it before your heart rate returns to normal. It is an experience that fewer and fewer people are having these days and–in my opinion–that is just downright tragic.

Heed my warning! Don’t wait! Make the pilgrimage to your local record store before it is too late. Grab that album you’ve been meaning to pick up, peal back the plastic, pop the disc into the nearest player, and savor your musical good fortune while you still can. As a bonus, you’ll also be helping support a local small business owner. Your local chamber of commerce will thank you for doing your part to keep the economy alive. It is your duty as a citizen of [insert country name here]. Oh come on, you know you want to! All the cool kids are doing it!

And to help you get your brains in gear (and mine), here’s just a few of the bands that I intend to search for this weekend. Enjoy!

TRAILS AND WAYS

Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
[Technically this one is a remix, but it is brilliant, so listen to it anyway!]

Tinted Windows

The Flaming Lips

Tegan and Sara

2012 Closeout

It has been a very crazy, stressful, happy, sentimental, geeky, tear-filled, music-crammed year. For many reasons, 2012 really put me through the ringer and for much of the year I was more distracted from this blog than I care to admit. A lot of good and bad things happened this year. Looking back now on the last twelve months, all I can say is that I’m one year older, my joints are a little stiffer, perhaps I am a tiny bit wiser, and I am definitely a tad more cynical. But I’m still here. I’m lucky enough to have a day job that pays the bills, a loving husband who puts up with my moods, dear friends, faithful family, and snuggly cats. And I try to appreciate all of it, and give them their much-deserved credit for keeping me sane.

But enough introspection. The year is coming to an end and I’ve got a backlog a mile long! So let’s cut to the chase and fill you in on a few of the amazing albums I’ve been obsessed with this year, but have been just too darn busy to write about until now. Put on your thinking caps and open up your ears, my dear readers, because we’re going to hit them fast and hard and it is definitely going to get loud.

First on my list is an intriguing little synthpop trio from Brooklyn called Class Actress. This group was brand new to me, but turned out to be oh-so-appealing. Elizabeth Harper’s voice and lyrics bring to mind classic pop princesses like Tiffany and Blümchen (two of the artists on my list of guilty pleasures), but she manages to ditch the teeny bopper innocence and bubblegum in favor of sexy lyrics and a jaded world view. And when paired with Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal’s synthpop production, it is not surprising that their 2011 album, Rapproacher, is nothing short of top-notch. The bouncy beats, techno flourishes, and New Wave influences actually mask a lyrical content that is much heavier than is apparent at first. Much of the album is spent dealing with the problems of an almost obsessive love affair that is obviously coming to an end. Starting out strong with the upbeat and endearing Keep You, by the end of the track list all you are left with is the sad, echoing, and introspective plea of Let Me In. There is definitely more than meets the eye here, and the result is an album that is hard to put down for long.

Weekend by Class Actress

Next up is the emo-tinged pop-punk outfit known as Motion City Soundtrack. I loved 2005’s Commit This to Memory, but I kinda lost track of these guys until 2012’s release, Go. (Oops!) However, I was downright thrilled when I heard they were releasing a new album this year. Their first single, True Romance, is positively stellar and perfectly evokes all the things I loved about them years ago, yet somehow manages to feel amazingly fresh at the same time. The most likely culprit in this is Justin Pierre’s lyrics, which have changed a lot over the years. What happens to the neurotic emo singer that grows up? They start talking about the mid-life crisis that 30-year-olds across the country seem to be experiencing these days, that’s what. This is probably why I keep coming back to this album. Nostalgia pulled me in, but the way it speaks to my own experiences as an unwilling adult is what keeps me listening. As a whole, the album is a little unbalanced, starting strong but getting darker and more depressing as the track list progresses. The opening songs of Circles and Wires and True Romance start the album out on a high note. But when you hit the contemplative Everyone Will Die at track 5, you start to realize that this is a different kind of album than they would have released eight years ago. And it only gets darker from there, with the second to last song, Happy Anniversary, which is a rather chilling account of a man who believes he is dying. Pretty heavy stuff, I must say, and the mood only partially recovers in the closing track entitled Floating Down the River. Surprisingly, this all feels even more introspective than their previous work and throughout the album there is a keen awareness of the passage of time and the changes caused by it. However, despite the slightly depressing finish, there is some major potential here, which renews my faith in the viability of the post-punk rock alternative genre.

Timelines by Motion City Soundtrack

Moving away from the heavier (read: soul-crushing) stuff, we now come to the amazing riot girl rock of Wild Flag. This indie rock supergroup (if there really is such a thing) is made up of former members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and The Minders. The list of members would be familiar to many a hipster, I’m sure, but I found this straight up rock ‘n’ roll band through NPR’s All Songs Considered–confirming that I still like new music, while simultaneously publicizing my advanced age (listening to cassette tapes when dinosaurs roamed the Earth). Rejecting all traces of bubblegum, Wild Flag’s 2011 eponymous album is nothing short of indie rock bliss with a hard-rocking edge that avoids sounding overly heavy or dirty. Devoid of all the usual synthpop and electronica influences I so often gravitate towards, they feel like a real successor to Siouxie Sioux and the Banshees. Tough and intelligent, empowered and full of bravado, with just a touch of vulnerability, the result is downright brilliant. The album is filled with strong guitars, pounding drums, good bass lines, and the clever use of a Hammond organ that completely sidesteps being cheesy. And on some of the songs you can hear that they are just itching to be a jam band, which I’m willing to bet must be the case with their live performances. Clocking in at only 41 minutes, my only real complaint about this album is that it is always over too soon.

Black Tiles by Wild Flag

And last but not least, my absolute top album of 2012 is Master of My Make-Believe by the fantastic Santigold. This is a juggernaut of an album from start to finish. Well-balanced in both genre and mood, she ranges from boastful, arrogant, and tough as nails, to quiet, introspective, and understated. Throughout the track list there are touches of punk rock, synthpop, industrial, electronica, rock, rap, R&B, reggae, and a whole lot more. Hailing from Philadelphia with the title of A&R representative for the likes of Epic Records on her curriculum vitae, the unsinkable Santi White embraces all genres and bends them to her will. Everything, and I mean everything, is fair game. This is evident in every aspect of the album, from the music, to the lyrics, to the album cover, which features her in some of her many and varied guises, including an oily looking man in a suit lounging in a leather chair, two bikini-clad amazon gatekeepers flanking him, and a grinning country noblewoman posing in a massive portrait painting hanging in the background. She is everything and all. Not afraid to genre bend, she moves around and through them freely, both throughout the album and within each song. Displaying a talented voice, she is not afraid to push to the far reaches of her range, and her use of overdubbed vocals in the background is clever. And I have got to say that her collaboration with Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the opening track,Go!, is one of the more brilliant match-ups I’ve seen in a while. I truly adored her first album, and (if you couldn’t already tell) I can’t say enough good things about this second album. I love that she pushes the boundaries of my musical tastes and encourages me to get out of my rut, as all truly worth while artists should. I am anxiously waiting for her next project and just about ready to kick myself because I have not seen her live yet. So what are you waiting for? Hit play now!

The Keepers by Santigold

Crossing the Stone Wall

Highway to Mt. Lemmon

The winding road up…

Way back in October–which strangely enough feels like it was two years ago instead of only two months–my husband and I went home to the desert to watch my sister-in-law get married to a great guy (an upcoming post, which I promise will be worth a read). Being in town for only a few days, and maneuvering our schedule to include some down time, we found ourselves with a (mostly) open Friday afternoon. Racking our brains for something to do, I got the bright idea that we should drive up nearby Mt. Lemmon. My husband was game, so we jumped in the rental and off we went. Little did I know the adventure before me.

As we drove up Catalina Highway towards the foothills, I snapped pictures on my phone, almost compulsively. One of the things I miss the most about the desert is the mountains. My hometown is bordered by four different ranges that align pretty closely with the cardinal directions, so no matter where you look or where you are in town, the mountains are an ever-present feature on the horizon. I must say that this is something that is severely lacking in the harbor of Charm City. As a result, the prospect of actually being on a mountain was more than a little exciting to me.

Sonoran Desert vista

Desert vista seen from the foothills of Mt. Lemmon, AZ.

It was a gorgeous October day, with clear skies and surprisingly cool temperatures for the area. As we began to climb in altitude, I was enthralled by the towering saguaro cacti, the brushy creosote, the spiky palo verde trees, and the sweeping rocky hills. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the desert is without its beauty. It is a rugged place and every single plant and animal, of which there are many, is there because evolution has engineered them to survive in that environment.  Sometimes stark, it is none the less gorgeous. And it is more colorful than most would imagine. They’d had a pretty good monsoon season this past summer and I was amazed by how green everything looked.

Dead saguaro cactus

The still-standing ribs of a dead saguaro cactus.

After a brief stop for pictures of the view back towards town and of the impressive cacti in the foothills, we climbed back in the car and headed towards Windy Point. Now I’d been to Windy Point many times since I was a child. There is a parking pull-off there with an amazing view and there is a long  and wide rocky outcropping that extends far beyond the low rock wall meant to keep tourists from falling off the edge.

I had been past this wall before when my husband and I were dating, almost a decade ago now. We made a similar mountain pilgrimage together and let me tell you, I was petrified. Every step past that little wall, no matter how stable and secure, was met with shuffling feet, strong feelings of vertigo, and a bit of terror in my heart. It was a miracle that I got any distance past that wall–mostly due to my husband obliviously striding along the edges with a firm grip on my hand. That was my experience ten years ago, but on this day it was the last thing on my mind as we climbed out of our car and crossed the road to the stone wall.

Man climbing over rugged terrain.

Climbing the outcropping at Windy Point.

Taking care placing my feet, I continued to snap photos like a stereotypical Japanese tourist. But my hands weren’t shaking and my breath wasn’t shallow. Not yet conscious of the change in my reactions I forged onward, capturing some wonderful pictures of my husband as he climbed ahead of me.

mountain vista

Impressive view as we move towards the edge.

As we neared the edge, it finally occurred to me how much this sort of thing used to freak me out. And like Wile E. Coyote realizing he is walking on thin air, a little of that old fear started to come back to me. But I had been doing so well, so my husband came back and took my hand.

Crossing the crevice

My brave husband crosses a deep crevice.

He led me gently to the closest edge, I squeezed his hand and looked down… and down… and down… a long way down. I was nervous and a bit shaky, but I gave that drop a good hard look and then we cautiously stepped back. Then he went back to his impression of a mountain goat and I made the startling realization that my breathing was… well, normal.

I looked back to the stone wall and realize how far away it was. It was like something changed in me. I was cautious and vividly aware of my surroundings, but I wasn’t afraid. I was a little bit amazed at myself, but I tucked that realization and the feelings associated with it into my back pocket, and continued my exploration of the outcropping.

Rocky terrain with a low stone wall in the distance.

Looking back towards the stone wall.

If anything I became more adventurous after this, climbing higher and higher and further from that silly wall. I began getting closer to the edges and soon, I was leading my husband, instead of the other way around. And it was… exhilarating? Fantastic? Empowering? All of these words would apply, but none of them truly capture the way that I felt. It has been a hard year, one that would get a lot harder only a few days after these pictures were taken. But this day burned into my memory bright sunshine, rushing wind, a mountain under my feet, and the best day I think I have had for a very long time now.

Looking down without fear.

Looking down without fear.

I’ve been saving this song for months now, waiting for a little personal victory that I could crow about. But every time that I thought to myself, if this pans out I’ll put this song up, things would always fall through. And I’ll admit that during my mountain climbing this song–or any song–never entered my mind. I was too caught up in the moment, which is really saying something for me. But looking back on the experience, I’d say it is the only song that fits.

The song I am referring to is Walk the Moon’s I Can Lift A Car. It is a the story about discovering that the life you once knew is ending, but then finding out that there is another part just waiting to begin. The singer is uplifted and empowered and finds that he is capable of things that he never knew were possible. The imagery in this song is truly commanding. I especially love the way the vocals in the chorus are divided between the four band members. The effect is more echo than call and answer, but there is something about it that is simply wonderful. It is infectiously uplifting and I am convinced that this song is the perfect encore material. It just begs for audience participation.

Just the thing for rediscovering yourself on the edge of a windy cliff.

I Can Lift A Car by Walk the Moon

(All photos in this blog entry are property of Anna Kresmer and subject to the same Creative Commons license as the text of this blog.)

Confessions of a music snob 2

Sometimes it seems like you really can’t outrun the mistakes of your youth. You change, you grow, and you look back and think, “Wow! Look how far I have come.” Then one day you have a conversation with someone who apparently knows you better than you know yourself. And you realize that the only thing that has changed is the date on the calendar…

A couple of weeks ago, my husband–who is affectionately nicknamed Monkey–and I were driving out to this amazing German restaurant about an hour away from Charm City. I was having a lovely time watching the green summer scenery going by and listening to the radio with my favorite companion. Somewhere along the road I began talking about the songs we were hearing. Now anyone who hangs around me for more than 20 minutes or so knows that this is quite normal for me. Most people just nod and smile until I have finished my piece and then the conversation moves on to another topic. They quickly come to realize that music is a big deal for me and they generally deal with me accordingly. But on this particular occasion, I guess I really got into serious music mode. In addition to becoming quite the critic lately, I am an avid trivia hound. So when I get going not only will I tell you why I like or dislike a particular song, I’ll also give you the artist’s entire biography (or at least as much of it as I know) and I’ll top it off with whatever memories or emotions I associate with their work. And on this night I was in fine form. After about 15 or 20 minutes of this (I wish I were kidding), my husband suddenly got really quiet. Then he looked over at me in the passenger seat and we had the following conversation (more or less):

Monkey: You know, I think you’ve gone back to the music person you were when I first met you.

Me: Aw, really? I lost some of it over the last few years? [Shock and a little sadness for losing touch with something I care so much about.]

Monkey: Yeah, but you’ve changed since starting the blog.

Me:  …So I’ve gotten it back now? [Warm fuzzies over this unexpected side effect of my creative endeavor.] That’s a good thing, right?

Monkey: [silence]

Me: Right..?

Monkey: [more silence]

Me: What’s wrong with becoming a bigger music fan again?

Monkey: [another pause, avoiding my shocked stare… or possibly just watching the road] Well, you keep talking over the music. You never actually let me just listen to it.

Me: [Stunned] Aw crap! You mean I’ve been acting like a music snob again? Why? Because of the blog?

Monkey: Honey, you blog about music. Doesn’t that automatically make you a music snob?

Me: Crap!

So there it is. My past rushing to keep up with me even after all these years. All through high school and into parts of undergrad, I was known (affectionately enough) as a music snob. I had a reputation for talking too much about what I liked (to the point of sometimes derailing conversations), making a general nuisance of myself when forced to listen to songs I didn’t like, and being… well, obsessed is a bit too strong, but something close to it. The moniker was rarely trotted out by friends, but it was made clear to me on more than one occasion that people felt it was well-deserved. It was almost an in-joke, for goodness sake! I despised this title whole-heartedly–still do, truth be told. And for the last several years, I thought I had escaped it. I grew a thicker skin, stopped making faces when country music was playing, learned to appreciate the wider and more eclectic world of music, and mastered the art of agreeing to disagree (or so I thought). I still got carried away occasionally with my little monologues, but on the whole I was a lot more easy-going and less annoying when it came to music. Well, it appears that I was only distracted by school, work, and a committed relationship. Once I got to work on this blog, I started slipping. (You can read about one of my previous lapses here.)

Not to get all whiny on you, but this is frustrating to say the least. The whole point of this blog is to explore my creative side in ways that I haven’t had the luxury to indulge in for the last several years. It’s supposed to give me a place to tell my little stories, without interrupting people or talking over the music, and (hopefully) avoid channeling the dreaded snob of my youth. Apparently I’ve still got some work to do on that count… and maybe the Internet is not the best place to avoid pretension… Crap!

Well, I refuse to give up the franchise here. I enjoy writing and can’t really imagine writing about something else with as much passion. But I do sincerely wish to be a better spokesperson for the musically-engrossed.  And there is no better time to start. They say that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards beating it. So here goes.

Hi, my name is Anna. And I am a music snob.

One of my first goals is to listen more and to let others listen as well. So now with no story, no agenda, no excuses, or explanations, here is a song I love. Just because. Enjoy (but don’t get too used to it)!

Sick of Myself by Matthew Sweet

The start of something good

Yesterday was my 8th wedding anniversary, so please excuse me for entertaining a little nostalgia trip (I promise I’ll keep the mushiness to a minimum). Somehow it doesn’t feel possible for this much time to have passed since my husband and I tied the knot (I think we both agreed it feels more like 5 years–how’s that for abstract?), but this is probably a good sign for relationship longevity. We’ve been through a lot as a couple. Over the years, we’ve transitioned from friends to friends with benefits, significant others, roommates, fiances, and finally to husband and wife. We’ve lived in 7 apartments and 1 uncle’s basement in 3 different states. We’ve survived undergrad, grad, employment, underemployment, and unemployment–with all the usual associated states of financial (in)stability. Our lives have changed greatly since we decided to make it official. Now we’re both a bit older–although perhaps not wiser–and a whole lot more comfortable with both ourselves and with each other. But we’re still having a grand old-time driving each other nuts and from my vantage point, it looks like we’ll be making mischief together for a very long time to come.

I have to admit that there was a time (as in all significant relationships, really) when it wasn’t so certain that we’d end up together. I watched him on stage with the local cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for about 2 years before I ever said my first nervous hello to him. I thought he was dashing as the Criminologist in his old Coast Guard dress jacket and downright adorable running around the stage in his underwear as Brad. I was a shy, sheltered college student who quietly indulged in a little crush every few months when I had time to attend a show. I never expected anything to come of it and I’m pretty sure that nothing would have come of it if a bad break-up and a suddenly empty summer hadn’t emboldened me to join the cast as a tech person. Suddenly I was crossing paths with that cute guy all over the place, but my shyness was the thickness and consistency of a cinder block wall. I could walk up to him and say hello, but I could never seem to figure out what to say next. Sadly (or possibly thankfully now), these pitiful attempts to strike up a conversation barely registered with him. I think it was mainly that my timing was bad and that mousey tech chicks don’t tend to stand out much when surrounded by rainbow bustiers, filmy white slips, and french maid costumes.

And things would have ended there if it weren’t for the swift thinking of a mutual friend/cast mate who swung into action when half of the expected attendees to my 21st birthday party didn’t show up. Hoping to stave off my impending birthday disappointment, she immediately hopped on her phone and rounded up several cast members to fill out the room. And lo and behold, one of the people was him! (Years later he claimed that he had no idea who I was at the time but that he came because of the promise of ice cream. Moral of the story, folks: Never doubt the power of ice cream.) But thanks to my friend’s quick dialing, the miraculous hand of chaos, and some heretofore unknown inner courage, I ended up having my first real conversation with the guy I was smitten with. The path from that first real conversation to a wedding ceremony is long and winding with many stops along the way, bits of which may be end up in this blog some day. But that night I had no clue what was in store for me, I was just proud of myself for finally daring to make an impression.

After the party ended, I went home and opened the new cd given to me by that same lovely friend with the quick dialing skills. It was Fountains of Wayne’s under appreciated master work, 1999’s Utopia Parkway. Their special brand of nerdy power pop and quirky lyrics were just the thing to appeal to the angsty late bloomer that I was. And in the years that have passed since that night, there is one song in particular that has stuck with me. Every time I hear it, I am transported back to the days when I acutely wanted to be liked by someone I believed was out of my league… the man I have now had the supreme luck to have spent the last 10 years with.

So here it is, the very first song I ever associated with my wonderful husband: Fountains of Wayne’s Red Dragon Tattoo. Enjoy!

I love you, Monkey!

One last thing: My husband and I have been contemplating getting matching tattoos for the last few years. Completely independent of my love of this song and its association with my husband, he suggested we get the constellation Draco, which is his Chinese zodiac sign. How’s that for ironic? Thinking of making mine red…

It’s just not Fun anymore

Never fear, dear readers. It’s not what you think. I may be a little late posting this week, but I enjoy working on my blog too much to quit after just 1 year. This is fun.

What is no longer fun is my listening experience with a specific song. In this case, that song is We Are Young by the up until recently (for me, anyway) purely enjoyable band called Fun. As far as idealistic teenage indie pop anthems with clever drug and subtle domestic violence references go, this was pretty much the tops. I’ll admit that at the ripe old age of 31, I felt just a tad self-conscious singing along with Nate Ruess’s power ballad. But I’m not exactly ready to hang up my headphones yet and most days I still feel reasonably capable of setting the world on fire, so most of the time I just made sure my car windows were rolled up and tried not to make a spectacle of myself. It’s a good song. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it?

Well, it turns out that my enjoyment was not meant to last. Despite being a well-produced song from a talented band, I’m now finding myself reaching for that dial every time the opening lines come over the speakers. You may ask how this could be? What could sour me so towards a previously appreciated tune? Two words: viral video.

I’m sure you must have caught this about a week or so ago. The wise-acres over at Yahoo’s Sketchy Comedy took a nice song with an aesthetic video featuring the gratuitous use of slow-motion cinematography and people beating the crap out of each other and turned it into a parody that–let’s be honest here, folks–hits just a little to close to home for this 30 something. Wittily called We’re Not Young (gee, I wonder how they ever managed to come up with that creative leap?) they poke fun at the pre-mid-life existential crisis that is faced by those of us who are too old to be called teenagers but are still too young to claim the dreaded title of middle-aged. The video is filled with images of youngish people looking at their lives, wondering what the hell happened to their dreams and goals, and trying desperately to find ways to be “young” again. And well… I hate to say it, but I found myself relating to them.

Okay, you can stop snickering! I mean it! Okay… I’ll wait.

I realize this is literally the definition of a First World Problem. Where else but the Western World can a 30-year-old with a steady job and a guaranteed paycheck feel the desperate need to seek self-worth and fulfillment in an adult improv class after work? But come on and admit it. Since college ended and you took that soul-crushing job to keep Sallie Mae from collecting your student loan debt in broken kneecaps and tears, you’ve probably felt the same disillusionment. The truth can be hard to take, especially when it turns out that you’re the butt of the joke. But I have to say that it didn’t really bother me until I realized that one of their crazy ideas to reclaim their lost youth was to start a blog… Well, let’s just say that I can no longer listen to the original song without cringing just a little. Considering that front man Ruess is 30-years-old, he may be cringing a bit these days, too. Although he is a bone fide rock star, so may be not.

Anyway, here now for you listening enjoyment (or possibly to exercise your flinching reflex) are both versions of the song:

We Are Young by Fun

We’re Not Young by Yahoo’s Sketchy Comedy