songbook: lucky denver mint

In M|H’s weekend feature, songbook, I’ll be looking at some of my favorite songs. Some I haven’t listened to in years, some I keep in regular rotation, but all having in some way informed my life, my taste, and and how I view music.

Jimmy Eat World – Lucky Denver Mint

Picking a single track to represent my love and affection for Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity was nearly impossible, so I went with the obvious choice – the album’s lead single, “Lucky Denver Mint”. Catchy, hopeful, and sad, it does a fine job of capturing the feel of Clarity. The only problem with choosing one song is that Clarity was never a one-song album for me – if I listened to one track, I listened to them all. I did so every day for a year.

Clarity was my first true musical obsession. Don’t get me wrong, I’d fallen hard for other bands before (New Kids on the Block in the early days and The Beatles in middle school, for example), but never with such a singular, ritualistic focus on one album. To say I listened to it every day for a year is not an exaggeration. I’m sure there were a handful of days I didn’t, and I can’t look at a calendar and circle a start and end date, but Clarity was a constant companion around my junior year of high school. I had come into the album a bit late, but after hearing it I was head-over-heels in love.

There’s not a bad song on the whole album. There’s not even a song that’s just okay. They’re still interesting. It’s been twelve years since the album was released and the songs still hold up. That says a lot. There are a lot of albums from my high school and college days that I still love and will defend to the death, but if I were to hear them for the first time today as a 27-year-old I don’t think I could connect to them in the same way I did at 17. Clarity is an exception.

To this day, my ears prick up if I hear someone mention Clarity. For a certain type of person, it’s a secret handshake, the hidden password. If you love Clarity we’re probably going to have a shared past, regardless of if we’ve ever met before or grew up in the same place or seen the same things. We have something that connects us. We’re the type of people who listen to music in the dark and think it’s hysterical to pick “Goodbye Sky Harbor” for all three plays we get for a dollar on the jukebox. We keep our ticket stubs and hold hands under fireworks. We can still feel the butterflies.

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