I keep a couple dozen old burned CDs in the center console in my Saturn. There’s plenty more where these came from in a big and dusty faux leather binder that I spent around $25 on back in the day – which felt like a lot. But when I got the Saturn this past fall, with the first car CD player I’d ever had, it was a chance to rediscover the CDs that used to spin in my Discman on a daily basis.

Some are mixes, some are albums. Some are labeled in Sharpie, some are decorated in swirls and stars and colors with little pictures accentuating words in album titles. Some are not labeled at all. They’re all a nice daily reminder of who I am, where I came from, what I stand for, etc. It’s also a nice way to spice up what I’m listening to on my drive in, as there’s always a surprise or two to be found.

So today I pull out a disc at random on my way to the grocery store and laundromat, and it’s Something Corporate, “Leaving Through the Window.” OK. I’ll take that. From the opening bars of “I Want to Save You” I’m suddenly a sophomore again, and all I want is some boy with shaggy hair and kind eyes and a killer CD collection to hold my hand and wear my hair ties and rubber pink bracelets on his wrist.

“She drives away, she’s feeling worthless 
Used again but nothing’s different 
She’d stay the night but knows he doesn’t care 

Home by three, a deafening quiet 
The porch light’s off guess they forgot it 
She’d cry herself to sleep, but she don’t dare” 
~I Want to Save You
Something Corporate, Leaving Through the Window

I keep listening as I go through my day and I remember how this album as a whole is still so, so good. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s driving. It’s part of the original class of pop punk that arrived at an early-decade apex right when the kids were really starting to pay attention and start screaming for more. But it’s never too angry, and there’s slower moments, hinting at the heartfelt sentiment Andrew McMahon would continue to shape on “North” and with Jack’s Mannequin. He talks about skin and limbs and veins and cars as was the way back then, but it’s never for surface value, it’s just the poetry of it. Combine the lyrics with piano-driven melodies and key-change choruses, and you make an album that was as classic than as it is today.

Ask almost anyone who graduated high school between 2004 and 2007. They’ll tell ya.

One song, “The Astronaut,” was never a favorite in high school, but today it made more sense. That chorus kicked in and I kept driving, silent, onto my destination. Today it felt inspiring. Today it reminded me that if you’re going to worry about any road, it should be the one before you, and what you saw on the way there is right where it needs to be, namely behind you, but also in memory.

“i’ve been sleeping with ghosts 
i’ve been watching stars 
crawling out of the sky 
and i’ve been hoping 
i’m close to the space man movies 
i call my life 

and i’ve been climbing ladders through time 
i’ve got tunnel vision 
but i’m doing fine 
and i’ve been 
watching stars coming off of the wall 
and maybe if i’m lucky i can catch them 
before you fall 
and you are not alone 

calling out to the astronaut 
i need some of what you’ve got 
i need to be high 
crawling out of the world she brought 
calling out to the astronaut 
i need to be high”
Something Corporate, Leaving Through the Window