Fall Out Boy’s ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ Turns Ten

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Place yourself in a room full of 18 to 20-something-year-olds today and make them listen to this three-second audio clip.

It takes me about a second to recognize the opening to “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” I’d imagine it’s the same for many. Hi-hats and two consecutive muffled kick drum beats are all it takes for a crowd to erupt with excitement in between sets at a rock show. I’ve seen it happen countless times. It’s pretty magical.

Taken from Fall Out Boy’s sophomore full-length record From Under The Cork Tree, “Sugar, We’re Going Down” serves as the band’s first ever Top 10 Billboard hit, peaking at #8, and spending twenty weeks on the Top 20. Before then, I don’t really remember how I expressed my deep-seated “angsty bullshit” feelings, as my friends fondly describe it.

I was almost eleven when this record came out. Some would argue that this age is prime “hit me with all sorts of interests” age. It’s when kids start to parse out what they genuinely enjoy from what they don’t. I’d give the world to recall the exact moment I picked up this record because it opened up a whole new world for me.

Similar to the end of my gruesome piano lessons, the sound of flashing lights during “Our Lawyer Made Us” signaled a new era for myself; an era of actively seeking out friends who listened to the same bands, an era of digging deeper into the alternative music scene, an era filled with countless nights trying to figure out what the hell Patrick was actually saying in “Dance, Dance” (AZ Lyrics wasn’t holding down the fort back then).

I vividly recall being annoyed at how slowly my MP3 player’s song title marquee was for “I’ve Got A Dark Alley.” “I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Said…” Said what?! The title cut out. I was confused. This happened repeatedly. “Get Busy Living, Or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save…)” Luckily for me, I was already too caught up trying to learn all of Pete’s spoken parts in the latter song; too young to realize how formidable and daunting these words actually were: “Now talking’s just a waste of breath / And living’s just a waste of death / And why put a new address / On the same old loneliness.”

From Under The Cork Tree, as I was growing up, was one of the few records I came back to constantly. I, along with a couple of my we-still-like-those-fall-out-boy-singles friends, learned the words to every song religiously — almost always more excited about the fact that we’re able to share these moments with one another than actually being able to successfully sing along. I started noticing that not everyone was as stoked on Fall Out Boy as much as we were. But I also started to realize that that was okay. I felt special. This kind of music was my “thing” no matter how many schools I’d move to and where in the world I was living. I was perfectly okay with everyone else moving on to Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” or Chris Brown’s “Run It!”

Growing up, I started to identify with the words more and more. I longed to be the girl all the boys want to dance with because of “A Little Less Sixteen Candles.” “Champagne For My Real Friends And Real Pain For My Sham Friends” graced the title bar of Top 8 friends sections – becoming the primary source of classroom drama. “Sophomore Slump” dominated the next few years of my life, as I firmly believed that little ol’ me was getting really “old” and really “jaded.”

As much as I still don’t think I understand what exactly the chorus to “Sugar, We’re Going Down” means, I’d like to believe it will always remain an anthem for both myself and those of my friends who moved on to BEP and Chris Brown back then. This song and this record generated an era of loyal and loving fans who have not let go even today.

When the band wrote From Under The Cork Tree, they had absolutely no idea it would sell over three million copies. They had absolutely no idea they would be selling out arenas across the globe. They wrote this record with one thing in mind: “We wrote a record that means a lot to us but maybe isn’t going to mean a lot to the people who are hyping us as the next big thing. And that’s fine. We don’t want to be the saviors of anything — we just want to be ourselves.”

They say that the younger you are, the wider your heart opens itself to new things; new cultures, new ideas, new people. They say that the older you get, this capacity to love new concepts vulnerably becomes tainted with skepticism and, you know, grown-up stuff. I think I fell in love with Fall Out Boy through this record because I found both at the right time. I was young enough to be able to attribute them to nostalgia today, and old enough to know that I did not want to divorce myself from their music and the culture in which it resided.

So okay, maybe the band didn’t actually find the cure to growing older. God knows this record keeps me pretty damn young, though.

Editorial written by Dana Reandelar
‘From Under The Cork Tree’ turned 10 on Sunday, May 3.

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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  • Andy

    One of the greatest albums of all time in my honest opinion.