Once again it is time for a Second Opinion for one of my “Season of Songs” posts. This time it is my dear wife and partner in crime Emma who is giving the opinion. Her song is The Dead Milkmen’s “The Guitar Song”, first written about by me on Day Nine. You can yell at her via twitter at @the_emma_hazel and convince her to not be zero years old and an egg on there, but it probably won’t do you any good. She’s just a voyeur on there. Much thanks to Emma for agreeing to be part of this project. -Q
I confess to also being not-especially-well-versed on the Dead Milkmen catalog. They’ve come into my life primarily by mixtape and pals. “Punk Rock Girl” was on the first mix my high school boyfriend made me. It may have been on other mixes before that, from friends, but if so, those were immediately eclipsed in my memory by a MIX! Made for ME! By a BOY! Who believed I was PUNK and not a poser!
So, weirdly, the Dead Milkmen are tied up in some interesting self-esteem and human connection concepts for me.
Let’s jump ahead to post-college, when I am working at a job with a walking commute. The job is pretty stressful, I am too young and new in the workforce to know how to set good boundaries, and I am a raging young feminist struggling to see the joy in life past all the much more visible (to me) abundant injustices. I used that walking commute as my first real attempt at meditation and setting an intention about the way I wanted to feel and behave on any given day. I started really looking for goodness. You’d think my first good item might have been a good smell or a nice person or a pretty sky, but it was actually a bitchin’ camaro.
Every morning, my commute took me past an auto body shop, and once every few months, this crazy white camaro with an orange stripe down the hood and an orange interior would be parked in the lot. It must have been a shitty car to be at the shop so often, but I didn’t care, because every time it was there, I would say “bitchin’ camaro!” out loud and bop the rest of the way to work feeling great and thinking about doing donuts on the lawn.
Jump ahead several years again. By this point, I’ve quit that job with nothing lined up (heartily recommended if you can stomach it) and have been doing odd jobs for a while as I try to figure out what I might do next. I started temping, feeling a little blue about it and wondering if I was backsliding professionally blah blah blah. You just never know what a temp assignment will be like, and this one was one of the luckiest chance encounters of my life! Enter Sara, now one of my dearest pals, with whom I have back-and-forth IMed and texted and emailed and verbally recited the lyrics of Bitchin’ Camaro countless times. She has also sent me Ween lyrics on innumerable occasions. What great fortune!
Somewhere along the way, as Q and I merged record collections and those sorts of Serious Relationship Things, I first listened to a couple Dead Milkmen records the whole way through, which would have been when I first heard Guitar Song. It always makes a little lump in my throat, and I’m not even sure I can put the reason into words. It’s this terrifically stupid song, but is about the experience of awe and wonder, which are the two things that I settled on in learning how to move through the world without being full of anger. It’s got this lovely swinging anthemic singalong style that I am a complete sucker for. It’s too short to go somewhere beyond its little nugget of a song idea and get tired or boring. A tiny song about discovery.
Tell me what’s that sound coming out of the hole in the wood?
Written by Emma Rehm
May 11, 2015