I’ve probably listened to the song “Rock & Roll” by Dr. Dog upwards of 400 times. But this past week as I listened to it on my walk to class, I began to wonder what it was about this song that made me keep coming back to it. The opening lyrics resonate with me on so many levels. With raw vocals and powerful acoustic guitar, Dr. Dog beautifully depicts how a young person can be so deeply affected by one stupid song. As I listened to the opening lyrics, I began to experience an intense nostalgia.
“When I was young/ Yeah I was young one time/ We’ve all been young/ But, this one time when I was young my buddy gave me a tape/ And it freaked me out.”
I found myself sitting in my eighth-grade English classroom. The bell rang as my friend Taylor sat down in the desk next to me and said, “Hey, I brought you something.” He reached into his backpack and pulled out a CD. On the cover was a cartoon bull with a brand on its backside that read “Blink-182.” He handed it to me and changed my life forever.
When I got home from school, I pulled the CD out of my backpack, opened its case and placed it in the disk tray of my stereo. I pressed play and then something amazing happened: It freaked me out. I loved it; something changed inside of me. My heart began to flutter and my mind began to race. Physical sensations started to overwhelm me.
I realized that I wanted to be in a band.
I called my best friend Tommy and told him what had happened to me — how Taylor had given me this CD and how I had discovered the meaning of life: music. “I know,” he replied and immediately suggested that he, Taylor and I start a band together.
I found this to be an odd suggestion as Tommy and Taylor didn’t know each other at all — and none of us really knew how to play an instrument. But, I decided to trust my best friend and just go with it. It was the best decision of my life.
The next day after school, I introduced Tommy and Taylor to each other. We rode the bus to Tommy’s house and had our first band practice in his basement. We sounded like shit. But that didn’t matter. Something amazing happened when we played together. We felt like part of a team. We felt like we mattered. We felt like we could make a difference.
From that moment on, we all knew what we wanted to do with our lives. We knew that we wanted to bring that same amazing feeling to others. We played music together for the rest of high school and we got better each time we played.
Now Tommy and Taylor go to school in Chicago, but we’ve all remained best friends. We don’t listen to Blink-182 anymore, but that band will always hold a special place in our hearts. Tommy and Taylor are in a great band together called Old Guard. Taylor is studying English and could easily become a great professor. Tommy is studying health sciences and could easily become a great doctor. I’m studying rhetoric and could easily become a great barista. But I have a feeling that we all still feel this longing to change peoples’ lives like ours were changed by music.
As I drifted back to present day on my walk across campus, I began to realize the profound effect that a song can have on a person. A song can allow you to time-travel. A song can help you find your best friends. A song can make you realize what it is that you want to do with your life. A song can freak you out.
Eight years ago, my life was changed by one song. And I am thankful for it every day.
Contact Jeremy Siegel at [email protected].