IWJIFOASTTSY: Jimmy Eat World
Picture this: I’m in the shower with a Gibson air guitar. As the water beads off my rockstar shampoo mohawk, Praise Chorus plays in the background,
crimson and clover
over and over
crimson and clover
over and over
The scene you just pictured actually took place. But this is neither here nor there.
I’m not sure when it happened. I used to like Jimmy Eat World like any other band I was into. Then it changed. Jimmy Eat World songs that were three stars soon changed to four stars, then five (I have a neurotic tendency to rate all the music in my burgeoning library). In a music collection which I can only describe as a vast sea of three stars, an island of Jimmy Eat World rose with sudden and volcanic fervor.
Like many, I am a sucker for the songs that soundtracked my younger years (isn’t the old joke that once one turns, 30 he/she stops accepting new music?). I forget when I was first exposed to them. I’d like to think my first wasn’t their catchy-pop single The Middle, but it’s entirely possible (in my defense, I have since acquired all the “Early Stuff” and “B-sides” that class me as a true fan). Yet my infatuation with this band is more than nostalgia. In fact, I can’t really connect the dots about how I got here from there. I like so much of their music with such gusto. Why? Beats me. I just do. They are talented musicians, granted. They rock, granted. But talent and rock alone cannot explain my teenage-heartthrob admiration of the band.
Some things take effort to appreciate. People often form their passions in a conditional way, describing them as “acquired tastes.” Does anyone really love an aged, dry, red wine, without first knowing its lofty pedigree? Do others see in Jackson Pollock’s work something I don’t? I do not wish to question the interests and passion of others, but mention these as examples where concentrated effort precedes appreciation.
Jimmy Eat World plays music that I simply enjoy, sans effort. I don’t have to feign interest like some New York socialite trying to swallow a Wagner opera (sorry Wagner, I don’t get you). So few things in life give us this chance. It’s the opposite of the fake smile we are wont to give when a camera is pointed our way.
So here I am above palm trees so straight and tall
You are smaller, getting smaller
But I still see you
Goodbye Sky Harbor (from A Prayer for Owen Meany)
One of my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs is a 16 minute track called Goodbye Sky Harbor. Most of the song is a minimalist-like repetition of a few guitar chords. It’s probably an unappealing repetitiveness to people without an obsession as deep as mine. In fact, when they play the song live they spare the anxious teenagers the boredom and skip most of the instrumental part.
It’s telling that I can listen to all 16 minutes of the song with genuine interest. This raw appeal is the basis for my irrational love of Jimmy Eat World’s songs. I like the music because it is readily likable. Call it positive feedback: enjoyment for the sake of, and by the hands of, enjoyment.
I think that merits jumping in front of a train. Don’t you?