I’m glad I was there when emo happened. I know “emo” as we’ve come to define is nearly two decades in the making, but for me, around 2002-2005 is where it all began, where all these artists who seemed to fit me started creeping out of the closet (really, I was just a lonely kid on Limewire)

Jesse Lacey, Adam Lazzarra, John Nolan, Andrew McMahon, Jim Adkins, (and for theatrical measure) Conor Oberst…those guys were writing my fucking soundtrack.

Violence, guns and car crashes from TBS or Brand New, lonely-awkward guy heartbreak from SoCo or Straylight Run, and the madness and drama wrapped up in Bright Eyes’ “Fevers and Mirrors”…those kind of songs taught me about love and relationships and people as much as chick flicks marketed toward teenage girls, or Jane Austen or wherever we get all our ideals from.

It was all so bright-sounding, so new to me and so true-to-my-own life. Looking back some of the stories are tragic, some are just plain whiny, and some of the lyrics really fucking suck.

Jimmy Eat World was big, too–the first time I realized SoCo’s Konstantine referenced “For Me This is Heaven” I felt like I was discovering a tomb of buried treasure.

Then Elliott Smith’s “From a Basement on a Hill” was released when I was 16, and I found out about a whole bunch of other stuff. After lots of classic rock up til high school,combined with lots of Tori Amos from ballet class, trembling songwriting like his was some kind of music for my “still-not-bleeding” ears.

Then there was the first Spill Canvas record, Sunsets and Car Crashes. god such a cheesy title, but I listened to that thing every waking moment. I must’ve burned 5 copies of that thing because I kept breaking or scratching the ones I’d carry around with me. I preached that record like it was the damn third testament, pawning it off to anyone who would listen to see if it got to them the way it got to me.

I think I had it before it was actually released, too (zomg!!) and I remember hearing different studio versions of the songs and being like “what the fuck happened to my songs!” It’s especially noticeable on “Caterpillars” or the backup vocals on the title track.

Made me smile when I heard his single on the XM radio station at work. “All Over You” or whatever. I had to go out and buy that CD when it came out, too. I had to see what he did. It sounds exactly the same to me, the same kind of writing, same kind of phrases all direct and dramatic and frustrated and insistent.

I’ve made leaps and bounds in my emotional and musical maturity in the past five years, but I hope that fucking CD will always have that same kind of magic to me.

What very well might be on every mix CD i made sophomore year of high school:

Something Vague
(Sing me to death, Conor Oberst! This guy just wails…let’s see how his solo album, stripped of the Bright Eyes name, fares with his fans.)

Embers and Envelopes
(I forgot how much I liked Mae. The have a new CD that I really want to hear, but for some reason it would be weird.)

Cute without the “e”
(I never would’ve admitted loving this song, but you bet I did.)

Punk Rock Princess
(So bright. So bouncy. So cuffed-wrists holding hands. Ah, memories! I still listen to this song, it is so fucking cute, and somehow still sarcastic. And look at McMahon in his sweater. He looks/sounds so young!)

(Don’t ask how I responded when I saw that Paramore was covering that. So many wires in my head got crossed.)

And of course…
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
I remember watching that video to death. “Your Favorite Weapon” was an instant favorite as soon as I heard it, for whatever reason, I downloaded it, I think, after hearing Seventy Times Seven. When I looked them up and realized they had just released this second record…well, next time I was at the mall with my mom I took my restaurant paycheck and bought “Deja Entendu.” Peeled through those liner notes, I couldn’t believe what this dude was saying and how it sounded.

Still fucking love that song.