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Found out about Me [Part 4/4]

April 16, 2016

Picture of a photograph

Found out about Me:
My (not so) New, (not so) Miserable Gin Blossoms Experience
By Geoff Stephen

Where Are They Now/Prologue (2016)
Learning the Hard Way (2006)
Congratulations, I’m Sorry (1996)
New Miserable Experience (new-to-me in 1994)
Found out About You (pre-summer 1994)

[Part 4/4]

Without further adieu, the reason for the comically-oversized shirt.

Like the line in Competition Smile, “emulate the style,” I wanted to be like the lead singer Robin Wilson.

.

I should note, in the early 90s, I seemed to think dudes with long hair named Robin &/or Wilson were the bee’s knees. Like Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, or the Calgary Flames’ Carey Wilson. This singer has both Robin AND Wilson in his name? Bonus!

Given that, sometime pre-summer of 1994, I saw the Found out about You video and immediately thought, hey, that’s how I want to look!

Now with the strobe lights and quick edits, it’s difficult to replicate his wardrobe exactly beyond the earth-tone, turtleneck-ish, long-sleeve shirt. I can only assume he too was wearing short shorts, socks, and sneakers.

The question is (correct answer = him), who wore it better?

Robin Geoff

.

Beyond informing my choice of style, hearing this song was one of those defining moments in my musical education.

It’s probably also my closest answer to the question, “what sort of music do you like?”

Appropriately, my love of Found out about You says an awful lot about me. Out of respect for reader time, I’ll list only 5:

1) I always try/never succeed at lyric accuracy

I can picture rewinding the tape over and over again, trying to scribble down the lyrics. Upon reading the printed lyrics this week, turns out I wasn’t even close!

2) I struggle with tabs/sight-reading

I remember picking up a guitar magazine as a youngin’ because it had this tab. I tried the intricate picking, not happening! Or at least, nowhere close to the right speed when attempting to sight-read. And so I play by ear, aiming for close enough.

3) I listen/watch for the guitar chords

I remember being baffled that the verse pattern here wasn’t just C, D, Em, D. It was these new-to-me chords, Cadd9, Dadd2, Em7, Dadd2 (Another reason the Gin Blossoms are special: they take a few chords, and make them sound new). I’m sure if/when I finally see them live, I’ll be watching Jesse Valenzuela & Scott Johnson’s left hands, try to figure out the chords as I enjoy the show!

4) In music, I’ll take light with dark every day

The strobe lights maybe are a bit much, but the clean tones & unhappy lyrics mesh beautifully, as per usual.

5) I prefer unresolved endings

The Cadd9 closing chord is fitting for this song, leaving the listener unsure of what would happen next.

gin blossoms

.

And with that, I’m back to where my love for the band began.

Perhaps fittingly, also with a somewhat unresolved ending.

Why did I keep losing track of the Gin Blossoms? Why did I not even realize there was a 2010 album? How did I not realize their significance in my life before this year? What became of that shirt?

Once again, I turn to the song, Until I Fall Away.

1) “When there are no good answers to those new questions.” Sounds about right.

2) The bad spot on my cassette copy of Until I Fall Away.

When fellow ‘Where are they Now?’ blogger Brian wrote his “Bad” Spots in Music post earlier in March, my muffled Until I Fall Away copy immediately jumped to mind. Then the ‘Where are they Now?’ collaborative post was floated, I signed up for one Gin Blossoms post, and ended up in a month-long catalogue immersion, resurfacing with this series!

If history is any indication, I may fall away from the Gin Blossoms again.

But until I do, I’ll continue to savour this reunion with an old friend.

Epilogue

Top 5 fools

I’ve relished this revisiting of my Gin Blossoms CDs (including the EP Up & Crumbling featuring the exceptional closing track Keli Richards) and reminiscing about their role in my life over the last 2+ decades.

Like the lyric in 29, I’ve gone through “good and bad and straight through indifference” in terms of how I’ve felt about their music.

I’m pleased that at age 34, I’m back to full-fledged appreciation & enjoyment. Next on my to-do list is to pick up their 2010 album No Chocolate Cake & hopefully see them in concert.

Thanks for coming along on this journey, I’ll leave the last word to the Gins:

“Only time will tell if wishing wells
Can bring us anything
Or fade like scenes from childhood dreams
Forgotten memories”

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36 Comments
  1. A great ending to a great series.

    A point:

    “1) I always try/never succeed at lyric accuracy
    I can picture rewinding the tape over and over again, trying to scribble down the lyrics. Upon reading the printed lyrics this week, turns out I wasn’t even close!”

    Yup yup yup. There were very, very few songs that I knew every word to. There was always at least ONE line I couldn’t make out. Not to mention cassette doesn’t give you the fidelity you sometimes need! “Love Gun” — the one line that always stymied me was “I’ll be a gambler baby”. I couldn’t pick that one out. And Def Leppard? Forget about it. Their lyrics were a lost cause! I still think the line in “Rocket” — “Satellite of love” — sounds much more like “See the line in the middle”.

    • Much appreciated Mike!
      I love a good misheard lyric, It’s like your story about Stone Gossard, and part of every day
      And Mr. Elliott doesn’t exactly over-enunciate those consonants, they all sort of blend together!

      • I know, it was maddening! I used to think music was SUPPOSED to be hard to understand 🙂

      • Absolutely – my intro to music was the early 90s (where mumbling was the generally accepted practice) – I appreciated Weird Al’s take on a Nirvana verse in Smells like Nirvana, “It’s hard to bargle nawdle zuss?!”

      • I always thought it was “nardle zous”!

      • With all those marbles in his mouth no less!

  2. It’s neat how this blogging world helps us find new bands, or remember old ones.

    Thanks for the link.

  3. Well, ahem*…I am…older than you by several years, and I have to say, I had a lil crushypoo on that Gin Blossoms lead singer. Cute cute cute! 1994, I was at Western starting my fine art studio work, and listened to the radio a lot on my walkman. Thankfully, Gin Blossoms played a lot, and got me through.
    Thanks for the great series, Geoff!

    • Sarca I couldn’t find the Fresh Prince clip – but there’s an episode where Will’s aunt is marrying Diedrich Bader, and another aunt sizes up & compliments the person she thinks to be the groom by saying “cute cute cute” – that’s what I’m picturing when I read you writing ‘cute cute cute’ about Robin Wilson!
      Much appreciated Sarca!

  4. Hackskeptic permalink

    Just from what you’ve written over the last couple of weeks I feel like you’ve not only re-acquainted yourself with the band, but fallen back in love with not only their music, but a wonderful time in your life, a time of discovery, and a reminder that for any true music fan, the voyage you take always has a soundtrack. I wish you well Geoff, and hope that you can share more experiences of the music that shaped your world!

    • Thanks so much Geoff!
      Well said about music shaping our respective worlds – as I’ve probably said in several posts, I’m fascinated by the sliding doors phenomenon.
      If I hadn’t heard found out about you, would I have gotten more into metal like most of my peers? more rap? more (gasp, at the time) country?!
      I’ll never know, I’m glad hearing it then sent me on the path that led me here, still loving their music 2+ decades later 🙂

  5. Great series Geoff! I like the fact that you gave your reasons for caring at times about the Gins and at other junctures sometimes not. Some times life gets busy somethings fall by the wayside.
    Same as music as a lot of acts either broke up/lost their record deals who knows ….
    Than they look for a bounce back a nostalgic like factor ” hey Remember us? From 20-30 years back?” No! How dare we! Well like us on Facecrack and buy our album/ T shirt combo and all will be forgiven!
    Once again..great work….

  6. What a fantastic series. Yes yes yes! Gin Blossoms FTW! I will join you in praising them. Right on.

    Thanks Geoff, this has been awesome. It’s like we lived parallel lives. Except you put more thought into yours, probably!

    • Thank you kindly Aaron, GB FTW indeed!
      I always appreciate reading about where & when people first heard a record, I thought it would be fun to share my experiences with these ones!

  7. Great series, Geoff! Or should I say, narrative. Found out about you and some music that is new to me and what I should be looking for in it now. In one of my favourite films, The History Boys, one of the main characters says something like “Pass the parcel, boys. That’s all you can do. Pass it on.” Discovering music this way, from people like you sharing why it matters to you, feels like some sort of a tradition too. I’m especially curious about an album titled ‘No Chocolate Cake’.

    • Many thanks Amrita!
      I appreciate the personal touch a lot of bloggers put in to their posts. Since a lot of the 1001 albums are ‘new-to-me,’ it’s tough to develop that much of a personal connection to the records after only a few spins.
      So it’s been really nice reconnecting with these albums that definitely aren’t so new-to-me!

  8. Really enjoyed this, Geoff. I don’t know how many tapes I lost when I was younger trying to catch that one line or word that just wasn’t clear. Definitely a few Pearl Jam cassettes!

    And the Cadd9 is one of my favourite chords!

  9. Love this.

  10. You really seem to have connected with something fine here Geoff. Nice one.

  11. And I finally had a moment to read your final GB post.

    I think you could have picked a much, much worse style icon than Robin Wilson. We were only a few years away from Marilyn Manson at that point….

    I love mangled lyrics. I agree with some of the comments, Pearl Jam is great for the unintelligible lyrics, as is my beloved early 80s REM. I enjoy not knowing the words, sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with the band. I enjoyed reading the posts and listening to the Gin Blossoms with a renewed interest.

    • Fortunately I never attempted to emulate the MM style!
      Thanks sourgirl, I really enjoyed re-immersing in the GBs, I’m glad you were able to join me on the journey!

      • Wise choice, my friend. My brother will be blackmailing me for the rest of my life with pictures from my “goth” period. Not pretty 🙂

      • haha, I managed to avoid that fashion phase (though a cure poster was a mainstay in my room from age 12 onwards!)
        I did however keep the mushroom cut long after it stopped being socially acceptable!

      • The Cure is awesome, so that’s ok.

        Mushroom Cut? Is that like a Bowl Cut?

      • It is, but somehow even less fashionable!

    • And nice call on PJ & REM – has there been a more untelligible song than yellow ledbetter?! And I remember talking to a colleague about Murmur last year, he asked, is that the album where Michael Stipe’s just mumbling?!

      • Oh, Yellow Ledbetter. Perfect example. He sings so passionately about…a porch? And a box? Or a bag? Who cares.

      • Exactly, whatever Eddie’s singing about, I’m in!

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