Tuesday May 7, 2002. I walked from my dorm room six blocks to Tower Records on 66th and Broadway. I bought all of my music at Tower Records, as well as rented videos there when I wanted to avoid a term paper. I have long since graduated and Tower no longer exists. A lot happens in a decade.
I went to buy Something Corporate’s first full-length major label-released album, “Leaving Through The Window.” I knew I would love it, and oh did I.
I had heard the single, “If U C Jordan” and it’s B-side, the epic-emo piano ballad “Konstantine” a year earlier on a free CD sampler Drive-Thru Records had distributed at a show. (Possibly at the Knitting Factory in Tribeca or Brownie’s in the East Village…neither still exist) I didn’t particularly care for the single, but the B-side melted me.
I immediately bought their EP, “Audioboxer,” which contained earlier versions of several songs from “Leaving Through The Window.”
On release day, I popped the CD into my DiscMan, put on headphones and sunglasses, and sat cross-legged at the Lincoln Center fountain. I listened to all of it, front to back (as albums should be heard) without stopping. Here, in the backyard of my college campus, I was totally and completely in love.
The draw of this band as an early-twenties female, was the piano, and singer/pianist/lyricist Andrew McMahon’s way of being young and vulnerable in his writing. There were so many bands like they in this cross-section of the late 90s-early 2000s, but Something Corporate had a prominent piano to complement the singer’s nasal-y tone. The piano made it less typical. I didn’t hear any other early-twenties guys playing the piano and writing lyrics like, “For goodness sake I think I’m on the edge/of something new with you/shout out don’t drown the sound/I’ll drown you out/you’ll never scream so loud/as I wanna scream with you” and then proceeding to make the bridge of that song (“Hurricane”) a piano riff. To me, at this stage of my life, this was the epitome of sexy.
My Something Corporate adoration came up recently in conversation with a close friend. He asked why I didn’t just listen to Ben Folds in college. I did. Was “Rocking The Suburbs” a better album than “Leaving Through The Window”? Yes, probably, and coincidentally released within months of each other. Ben Folds was, and is, an adult; the underlying difference I didn’t realize at the time. You could relate to Folds’ quirkiness. There surely was a piano and Folds plays it and WELL. Something Corporate and McMahon related to me in that college-girl sort of way. Folds was an adult. McMahon was a peer. Somehow you feel as though you have a shot with your peers. Some of the underlying appeal of “SoCo” was my thinking there was a future possibility of having a beer with Andrew McMahon. Adults are in another league.
In August of 2010, my friends Jack, Nate and Rachel, made my summer (and possibly year) complete and took me to the NYC date of the Something Corporate reunion tour. I was shut-out from properly buying tickets, but my friends made it happen in a very big way. We sat in a balcony box, side-stage at Roseland Ballroom. I proceeded to freak out like I was seeing The Beatles. Rachel knew this secret (or not-so) love of mine of SoCo; she lived through college with me. Jack remembered the day back in 2003 when he mentioned that his band was to open for SoCo on the West Coast and I cried like a total freak. But Nate…poor Nate had no idea what was about to happen. There was singing, dancing, fist pumping, whiskey-drinking, tears during the ballads. It was a full-on contact sport, this Something Corporate reunion show. I felt free and alive and like I was in undergrad trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. Nate, bless his heart, finally understood the fan-dom around this band, and enjoyed the show, (because I was both a lunatic and his friend) far more than he’d ever enjoyed them. He saw a side to me that, though endearing, was mildly frightening, I’m sure.
After, I was within feet of my “peer rather than adult” Andrew McMahon. I said nothing and asked not to be introduced. I could, literally, have had a beer with someone I would have loved to meet eight years prior. I left it alone. That right there, was perfect.
“Leaving Through The Window” is ten years old. I listen all the way through once a year, but listening this time while writing this piece, brought me back to 2002, hard. I made a list of the friends and peers from college. I thought of those who: now are married, have children, are no longer in touch with me, are gracing magazines and billboards with their projects, have started businesses, have moved up the ladder at their company, have moved out of the city of our college experience. I held the memory of walking to a store that no longer exists, to buy a CD, to listen in a DiscMan, rather than importing into iTunes…ten years does not seem ilke a long time, and yet enough to digest that things are different.
From “I Want To Save You” to “Globes And Maps,” this album was the center of my musical love a decade ago.