I know this is a story that I have told many times, how my early adolescent was shaped by the simultaneous coming into awareness of myself and of my generation. Just as the fuzzy unawareness of my tween years was fading, the radness of the 80s was disappearing under an onslaught of confrontational, critical, music and culture. And just as quickly, the waves of this "revolution" were reflected and blurred. And while it is a story I have told many times, I keep on seeing it.
"This is a Call" is a song by The Foo Fighters, released as the first track and first single on their debut album, which was released on The Fourth of July, 1995. The single came out a few weeks before that, a few weeks after my 16th birthday. Although the album and the single were credited to "The Foo Fighters", at this point that was just the name that Dave Grohl recorded under. I was dumbfounded when I heard the song and heard that Dave Grohl was involved. At the time, I was still dichotomizing things into grunge and pop. With its swinging, upbeat tune, and chirpy, free associating lyrics, I didn't know what to make of this. After Kurt Cobain's death, Nirvana: Unplugged was released, which while different than other Nirvana albums, was still very serious, to say the least. So hearing a song whose most memorable lyric was
Fingernails are pretty
Fingernails are good
Seems that all they ever wanted was a marker
was pretty hard for me to parse. The drummer of Nirvana had released an upbeat pop song about coloring fingernails with magic marker? It really was a revolutionary idea for me at the time.
I think it wasn't until this year, the year that three, possibly four people I know died of suicide, that I understand the song. For one thing, I started to listen to the lyrics, including the one from which the song gets its title:
This is a call, to all my past resignation
which seems to evoke the idea of acknowledging the past, and moving beyond it. Despite the cheerful nature of the song, Dave Grohl was understandably depressed upon the death of Kurt Cobain. And my experience, as an adult, of coping with suicide, is that it is not at all the serious, funeral dirge atmosphere of Nirvana: Unplugged
, it is an absurd experience, with the mourning mixed in with seemingly random memories and regrets. And although I can't say why, I think this song captures that well.