I think I first read about Juliana Hatfield in Sassy magazine when I was in junior high. Or I heard "My Sister" on the radio. I ordered the Juliana Hatfield Three CD, Become What You Are, from Columbia House, and I liked it. But I did not love it. Put it this way: There is a certain type of angst that leads me toward jangly guitars, soft, girly vocals, and weak - if appropriately angsty - lyrics. I keep Become What You Are around for days when I am suffering that type of angst. As I approach adulthood, these days are, thankfully, fewer and further between.

But this song - this song is quite another matter. It was released on Juliana Hatfield's 1995 LP, Only Everything, which I do not have; it was the lead track on one of several mix tapes my friend Brendan sent me in the spring of 1999. The first time I heard it, I was driving a rental car to my friend Jordan's house to pick him up and take him to the prom. It seemed to fit the weather, which was, that day, bright and gorgeous, if perhaps a tad windy.

Later, I was in my room alone, trying to fall asleep, and I put the tape on again - this time paying much closer attention to the lyrics. Perhaps they wouldn't have jarred me so much if it weren't so dark, if I hadn't been so lonely, if the music weren't so perfect and bright. Juliana's normally high-pitched, childlike voice is distorted to sound even more childlike when she sings, "Put me in the basement / Without anything to eat," and it is because of the following lines - "You can hurt my body / But you can't hurt me" that I have copied these lyrics in my journal many, many times. It's therapy on rainy, wrong-side-of-the-bed-days like this one.

We pick up and live, however reluctantly. Sometimes I thought this song was about believing we are tough, when we are in fact fragile ("I still got my boots on / So I can walk away," Juliana sings, but I'm not sure we or she believe it). Lately I am inclined to believe the converse: that we believe we are frail, despite all we survive, despite visible strength and bravery.

I don't know quite who I mean by "we." It could just be me, and the minions of other angsty girls who copy Juliana Hatfield lyrics into their journal. Or anybody else. As silly as I feel admitting it, this song is a piece of me, one I thought belonged in the database. Keep in mind. It sounds really happy:




Put me in the shower
Pull me out of bed
Am I only dreaming
Or did I wake up dead

Throw me in the garbage
Shackled up in chains
But I still got my boots on
So I can walk away.

At heartbeat says
You haven't died
You gotta try
To stay alive.

Leave me to the vultures
Throw me to the wolves
I'll live on tomorrow
In purity of soul.

Dump me in the ocean
Tied to a piano
But you forgot to rip my heart out
Before you let me go.

A heartbeat says
You haven't died
You gotta try
To stay alive.

Lock me in the basement
Without anything to eat
You can hurt my body
But you can't hurt me.

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