songbook: holly hox, forget me nots

In M|H’s new 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.

Saves the Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

Though I’ve always been into music, late high school was when I really hit my stride. The perfect storm of getting my driver’s license and file sharing becoming rampant meant that I could check out bands both by going to see them and seeking them out online. I learned about Saves the Day by the tried and true method of reading their song lyrics in a friend’s AIM profile. The song turned out to be “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven” – a song I instantly loved upon hearing and one that prompted me to get every song by STD I could find. The album that really sold me was Through Being Cool. I still love it just as much, if not more, as I did in high school. “Holly Hox” is my favorite song from the album, my favorite Saves the Day song overall, and in my top ten favorites of all time. There is a core group of people that I know will sing their hearts out with me whenever they hear it, and I can’t help but think of them and how much I love them whenever I hear it.

The first time I saw Saves the Day was the day after my 18th birthday, November 20th, 2001 at Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown, PA. Thursday was supposed to open, but they cancelled last minute. Saves the Day put on an amazing set, and the high point was hearing “Holly Hox” for the first time. For a few years, Saves the Day kept the song off their set list, breaking my heart every time. A few years ago, though, they worked it back in and all was right with the world. I really don’t think I’ll ever tire of this song. I completely anticipate hobbling around the nursing home in the sunset of my life, pleading with Mr. Hox to tell his daughter that I’m all alone and not handling it well.

no need for reminding, you’re still all that matters to me

One lovely August day, an unsolicited package arrived on my doorstep from Vagrant. Having not the slightest clue as to what it could be, I was ecstatic to find it was The Get Up KidsSomething to Write Home About reissue. When I saw that the enclosed note included tour dates, I was over the moon. In 2005, I drove seven hours to see their June 9th stop at the Metro in Chicago for their farewell tour. That night they ended their set on “Long Goodnight” and I stood by the sound booth, tears streaming down my face as I listened to the band deliver heartfelt thank-yous while they vamped. First seeing them on December 11,  2001, they’d quickly become one of my favorite bands to see live and I was devastated that I’d never get to see them play again. I’m glad to say that last night, September 21, 2009, that wrong was righted at the Fillmore in San Francisco, CA.

Opening the evening were Pretty and Nice and Youth Group. While both bands had their merits (Youth Group’s cover of “Forever Young” by Alphaville was wonderfully dark), neither was stylistically what I wanted to hear. In all honestly, the only thing I would have found acceptable is Saves the Day playing Through Being Cool in its entirety (please get on that, STD).  By the time Youth Group had finished and the waiting began, I was anxious and antsy. After what seemed like a ridiculous and masochistic wait following the changeover, the lights dimmed and The Get Up Kids took the stage.

Kicking off with “Holiday“, Something to Write Home About‘s opener, the band was immediately greeted with a massive and enthusiastic sing-along. I was pleased to find that the lyrics came flooding back to me, and was surprised by the accompanying emotions. Throughout the show, there were several times I felt myself on the verge of tears – partially from the surge of memories (my friends Jon and Danielle explaining that it was crucial I download “Anne Arbour” and “Red Letter Day” one day while waiting for our English class to start, late-night dance parties to “Close to Me”), and partially from the sheer joy and gratitude at being able to hear these songs live and sing them aloud with a thousand of my closest new friends, transient though they may be.

Perhaps most important was that seeing The Get Up Kids again reminded me why I love music, and why it continues to be so central to my daily existence. The Get Up Kids and Saves the Day were among the first shows I went to that were not in a big arena. They were small, sweaty, and personal. For the first time, I could see the faces of the performers without the aid of a Jumbotron. The crowds were populated by other people my age, and I didn’t feel self-concious singing, laughing, or screaming with glee because I had a parent sitting next to me. Crushes were born over the exchange of mixtapes featuring newly discovered bands, and friendships were solidified while we pointed at the stage, locking eyes with the person next to us as we both yelled our favorite line of the whole album.

Before the show last night, I had no idea that seeing The Get Up Kids again would affect me so deeply. I was wildly excited to see a band I’d been missing, but had not realized how deeply rooted they were in my identity. Upon reflection, I’m not particularly surprised, but I am heartened to know that music really does matter; it really does change lives (if only my own).

PARTIAL SET LIST: Holiday, Don’t Hate Me, Action & Action, Valentine, Close to Home, Mass Pike, Woodson, Overdue, Walking On a Wire, Campfire Kansas ENCORE: Close to Me, Beer For Breakfast, I’ll Catch You, Ten Minutes

i cherish with fondness the day before i met you

Los Campesinos! – My Year In Lists (desperate youth, bloodthirsty babes)
She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? (Zooey’s deer-in-headlights expression works in faux-death)
Albert Hammond Jr. –GfC (music visualized)
Sea Wolf – You’re A Wolf (meh to the video, but the song is excellent)
Saves the Day – Shoulder to the Wheel (because they’re still one of my favorite bands)