Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why, Yes, I Like Nickelback... Sort Of

When I was in the seventh grade, my history teacher told me that he had gotten the new Nickelback album The Long Road. He was undoubtedly expecting me to say, "oh, yeah, that's cool," but I didn't. I just sort of nodded and pretended I cared. Honestly, I'd never heard of Nickelback. This was 2004 and I was maybe fourteen or fifteen. The Long Road literally came out two days before my fourteenth birthday in 2003, but I wasn't introduced to this particular album until 2004. In general I had not cared about modern music and still don't although I have widened my umbrella. I was huge into Guns N Roses at the time and that is sort of what bonded me to my seventh grade history teacher. We liked the same tunes. Well, except for Nickelback. Again, I had never heard of them and I just assumed that they were a shitty band like Korn or Limp Bizkit. I really hated Nu-metal and I still do for the most part. Of course, I suppose I tolerate Korn more now and I even have most of their CD's (their "early" stuff). But Korn is a different story and that was largely just a phase because I rarely revisit their music anymore.

This is about Nickelback. And, well, my musical tastes in general as a young sprout. My first CD's were Bad Company's Anthology, Ozzy's Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman, and GN'R's Appetite for Destruction. Sabbath didn't come until later, I'm sad to say. My dad had a music catalog for BMG that he got in the mail and I "enlisted" us in a monthly subscription and "purchased" a few CD's. I was only a kid so I obviously didn't have money. I even chose Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar when I was in the sixth grade and I can't imagine the parents of too many kids not being slightly upset by seeing that in their kid's music collection. But it was in mine, by God. And my dad paid for it without saying anything. I was huge into Manson by then, but even Manson's prime had already passed by then. I was just a little too late. In order for me to have really appreciated when he was around I would have to have been born earlier. 

But my seventh grade history teacher played most of the songs on The Long Road a million times. You may think I'm joking, but I'm really not. I knew all of the lyrics to pretty much every song without ever having to look up the lyrics because he just kept playing it. He just played the album so much. A few times I got him to play some of Deep Purple's Made in Japan or a few of the clean songs from GN'R's Appetite to just change things up, but mostly he played Nickelback's The Long Road

Yeah, he was pretty cool about playing tunes in class. Unfortunately, a few of my CD's vanished while I was at school: Metallica's The Black Album, Tesla's Standing Room Only, my copies of Purple's Machine Head and Made in Japan. I don't know if they vanished while I was in his class, but they certainly vanished and I still say to this day that they were stolen. And I think that was what made my teacher tighten his policy up about music because I remember trying to listen to Sabbath's Past Lives while we were watching some movie and being told to put my headphones away. 

Sometime later, I'm not quite sure when, I got a copy of Nickelback's The Long Road for myself. You see, I had listened to the songs so many times by then at school that it almost didn't feel right for me to not have a copy of it. After that I naturally collected a few of their other CD's because I am a bit of a hoarder that way. Yeah, I admit it: I like Nickelback, but it's mostly a timeline thing that is sort of difficult to explain. 

Thing is... most of the tunes I like were around before I was born. Although I love Sabbath to death and could talk to you about any lineup of Sabbath until you'd turn blue in the face, I didn't experience Sabbath. I wasn't around when they made all the records I love and they weren't around when I really grew to love Sabbath. But Nickelback was around and new and I listened to one of their "older" albums when it was "new." This probably sounds silly, but that kind of means something to me. Basically, I'm older than Nickelback, not the band members but the actual band, and I find rather comforting that I can sort of age with a band rather than to look forward to an all too near future where all my heroes croak from old age. It's not just Nickelback, but bands like Slipknot, System of a Down, Stone Sour, and Trivium, too. These aren't necessarily before my time but of my time. And all of the bands I just mentioned sort of ring with my days in school because no one else I knew was listening to Black Sabbath when I was in the seventh grade. No one else was listening to AC/DC when I was in the fourth grade. So those few common bonds I had between my fellow students kind of kept me tethered to the "now" and not the "past." A past I never even experienced in the way my teachers or my dad had. 

So I make it a point to listen to some Nickelback every now and then. Not the new stuff, but The Long Road. It's nothing to brag about, really. I should probably be ashamed. I mean, they're the Canadian version of a bad American band. My brain tells me that, but my ears sort of tell me different. Yeah, it's probably bad for me, but it's the memory that matters to me. I still know all of the tunes by heart. I remember hearing the singles on the radio and all that. 

This album does speak to me about the past, but it's my past from my time and I think that is an important distinction to make. 

Will I still be listening to it in twenty years? I don't know. But I've been listening to it for about ten years now and I still appreciate it. 

Slayer's Christ Illusion, Slipknot's Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, and a few other albums also resonate with my high school experience. Other kids were into them at the time. Not many, but enough. We'd get into debates over whether or not Slipknot had sold out or whatever. I guess I was just glad to fit in a bit. That was unusual for me so that's another case of me being tethered to the "now." Because I don't think I could have found anyone my age to debate whether or not Sabbath's Tony Martin lineup was better than Deep Purple's David Coverdale lineup. 

Anyway, when I think about middle school I really do think about Nickelback. Of course, middle school really sucked for me so I guess it's only fitting that discovering Nickelback's music was the highlight of the time.

So yeah, I like Nickelback. Deal with it. 

1 comment:

  1. There is something about bands you like as a teenager. There is something sentimental about it and you never quite let it go no matter if the bands were any good or not. When I was young, we listened to Grand Funk a lot. They were hugely popular. I listen to Grand Funk now and I think that they are pretty rudimentary and terrible but I still like to listen to them occasionally. It always brings back memories.

    Another popular band among the teenagers then was Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Now, BTO has some pretty awesome songs but they were not the most imaginative group of guys. Their whole career sounds like the same album. I think Fred Turner's drano laced vocals are really great and Randy was a talented guitar player but a little short on ideas when it came to songwriting. Sometimes simple and dumb works really well, however. One of my favorite BTO moments is a lyric from song called "Sledgehammer" It's a very heavy song and the lyric is (I'm going on memory here so it may be slightly different) "You're like a sledgehammer, been beating on my mind." It's dumb and great all at the same time, XD.
    So Grand Funk and BTO are my Nickleback.