EDITORIAL: The Cure to Growing Older – A Musical Retrospective

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When I was in the 6th grade, things were far simpler than they are now. These things were undemanding in most respects, but growing more socially complicated by the day. Middle school was that time in my life when girls became attractive, attitudes changed, friends changed, and growing up truly began. I recognize the growth that began in junior high as a part of who I am. In conjunction with my social growth, came my newfound hunger for music.

 

I found the cure to growing older and you’re the only place that feels like home…

 

In my youth, I was heavily guarded by my parents in most aspects of life. I was a Boy Scout and church-going boy with straight A’s and soccer as an interest. I was a good kid. The kind my mother was proud of. I didn’t swear or get into trouble, I had good friends and made responsible decisions. My internet access was limited by dial-up, AOL child-locks, and previously determined web-browsing time. Middle School was pretty normal for me until something new came along. That thing was Chicago based, pop-punk band Fall Out Boy and they were not allowed. My first illegally burned album was Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree and when I received my copy, I learned a few things.

 

I’ll be your best kept secret and your biggest mistake…

 

The first was that my friend Josh could not properly operate Windows Media Player. My copy of FUCT was missing track 1. For those who have heard “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued,” I’d appreciate if you didn’t play it for me when I’m riding in your car at high speeds or locked in a bomb shelter with you. It isn’t that I don’t like that song. In all likelihood, I’ve probably heard it. Upon hearing my tale, people have offered to send me the track to complete the CD. That’s, of course, very nice of them but you see, From Under the Cork Tree is still a very special album to me and my copy is complete as far as I’m concerned. Adding that unknown song to the beginning of it would ruin the feeling that I still get from hearing the first guitar rip on “Of All the Gin Joints in All the World.” My From Under the Cork Tree is only 12 songs long and that is how it will stay.

 

You only hold me up like this ’cause you don’t know who I really am…

 

The second thing I learned was that my mother is not a fan of obscure lyrics referring to sex and blasphemy. I recall a car ride with my mother that featured me sitting in the back seat (like I said, I was guarded) with my portable CD player spinning my incomplete copy of FUCT quite loudly. It was early summertime. During a pause in-between tracks (again, Josh sucked at Windows Media Player) I heard my mom cycling through radio stations as she usually does. Upon hearing a snippet of “Sugar We’re Going Down,” I immediately paused my disc and told my mother to go back to that song. Yes, I paused the CD that song was on to hear it on the radio. Back then, hearing a band you know about was exciting, not depressing. After years of listening to bands my parent’s knew that I didn’t on national radio, I finally had one on them! My mom went back to the station (Q 104.1 for any Akron/Cleveland area readers) and listened along as I watched her face in anticipation. Perhaps I hoped she’d like it and take me to a concert, or maybe I wanted her to know I was listening to something a bit more risqué than pop-country or Jason Mraz. Regardless, she listened, the song changed, and I went back to my CD.

 

I know this hurts, it was meant to (it was meant to). Your secret’s out and the best part is it isn’t even a good one and it’s mind over you don’t, don’t matter…

 

Upon returning home that night, My mom called me into the dining room where the computer cabinet was contained. Curious, I answered her call to find her looking at the lyric sheet for “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” This is when she asked me, “Jake, what do these lyrics mean?” I was 12, I had no clue. They were catchy and the music video had a deer-boy in it. That was enough for me. Hell, I thought Patrick Stump was british for a full year and that the singer always wrote the songs. I was in ignorant bliss. My answer didn’t appease my mother who had a concerned and irritated look on her face. This face remained as she told me, “I don’t want you to listen to this band anymore.” Luckily, my mom wasn’t aware that I had my coveted burned CD, so I continued my listening in secret. The songs were even better than before. Why? Well, that’s because I wasn’t supposed to have them of course. The “forbidden fruit” effect was placed on pop-punk music and thus, my departure from good boy Jake began.

 

Are we growing up, or just going down? It’s just a matter of time until we’re all found out. Take our tears, put ’em on ice, ’cause I swear I’d burn the city down to show you the lights…

 

I’ll admit that FOB was not my first banned artist. Rap was an absolute no-go in the Tender household and my friend Jimmy was a big Eminem fan. I listened to Slim Shady’s music every time I was there while playing Duke Nukem, Grand Theft Auto, and a plethora of other blood-filled first person shooters. The difference here is that I was listening ONLY because I wasn’t allowed. Rap wasn’t my thing. Granted, everyone has a rap phase, but the semi-censored Curtain Call never stood up to the lasting influence Cork Tree had.

 

They call kids like us vicious and carved out of stone. But for what we’ve become, we just feel more alone…

 

From Under the Cork Tree was the first CD I listened to on repeat for days, months even. It was the first album for which I memorized all the lyrics, inflections, and harmonies. Fall Out Boy was the first band I learned all of the members names for. Patrick Stump was my “favorite singer” for at least 2 years. I joined AIM chat rooms and sought out others who listened to FOB. I didn’t like those pretentious assholes who didn’t like anything after Take This To Your Grave. I now recognize that I’m one of those assholes, but I still fume when some of my favorite records are so easily discredited by ignorant semi-listeners.

 

I’m the first kid to write of hearts, lies, and friends, and I am sorry my conscience called in sick again, and I’ve got arrogance down to a science. Oh, and I’m the first kid to write of hearts, lies, and friends…

 

From Under The Cork Tree transformed me from book-worm to music-nerd. I began to seek out related and unrelated music and bands. My library grew, my media player changed (WMP, MusicMatch Jukebox, and finally Winamp), and my focuses changed. From this album on, my conversation starters turned to be band/song based, my friendships started revolving around similar musical tastes, and my music library’s correctness took precedence over my homework’s. Without Fall Out Boy’s influence in middle school, I would have never taken that leap into alternative music and my favorite artists today may have never found their way into my ear canals, I would most definitely not be writing this or any other music-realated article or review. From Under the Cork Tree is one album I will always cherish and it’s due credit. After all, without it, you’d have never read this.

 

Written by Jacob Tender (follow him on Twitter)

Jacob Tender

Jacob is a freelance writer who calls curbside.audio home. He is also the co-host of the Bantha Fodder podcast and helps UTG with technical and financial nonsense.
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  • Anthony Mulligan

    I’m sorry to necro this piece so hard right now, but I had actually never read this back when Stump wrote his response. I just to say that this was Folie A Deux, for me. Which is why when I found out that the album was widely hated, I couldn’t understand it.There are so many painful teenage memories and angst tied up in the lyrics from “27” that even as I listen to it now its like a strange flashback to pimples and rejection.

    I saw FOB in concert (my first concert, actually, I grew up pretty poor and can relate to ripping CDs) in October 2017. I got all dolled up in my 2007 gear, bad eyeliner and studded belts, only to be wildly out of place on the M A N I A tour; I was surrounded by flower crowns and kids in SUPREME hats. I too, found myself disdaining the change. Sure, I came in on the most ‘pop’ iteration of the pop-punk scene, but it still had bite. I didn’t recognize the opening act and wasn’t really even there for the new songs; I wanted to hear my favorite album performed live (the only song from FaD they actually played was “I Don’t Care”) and was frustrated when the audience around me fumbled some of the words in “Hum Hallelujah” and “Grand Theft Autumn”, because I obsessed my way into memorizing all of the words to the songs in the first four albums.

    Looking back now, though, its interesting to see how I may not like the newer music as much (I still listen to the newer three albums, albeit in a much less-loved playlist) but am trying my hardest not to be the same person that shat on my favorite album because they didn’t like the new sound (I too, can still hear echos of ‘nothing after Take This to Your Grave’ is good, which is funny because that was always my least favorite of their older albums).

    Maybe we’re doomed to a cycle of hating change? The reality is that these albums were so influential to a massive period of stress and growth in our lives that they act as anchors. When they are challenged, changed, let go, it hits a personal level. An embarrassing portion of my teenage years were shaped by crying to Infinity on High and Folie a Deux, and that has a large impact on my sense of identity even to this day.