I was driving around the other day listening to the radio (which I don’t usually do, I usually have my iPod plugged in because ever since I worked in radio for a year and I can’t really stand listening to it…but I was nice and lent my iPod to my boyfriend for his 12 hour drive to Wisconsin) and this song came on.
And as soon as I heard the opening strums of the guitar, I was hit by a wave of memories.
Peal Jam and Nirvana were super big when I was in middle school. I wasn’t into them at all. My musical tastes were still mostly focused on Disney soundtracks and whatever my Mom was listening to at the time (so, ya know, Phil Collins and Sting). Hearing the term “grunge”, I assumed that the music would be loud and screamy and not my thing. So I kind of avoided them somehow.
But there was this really nice kid in my class, his name was Alec Miller. He *loved* these bands. He sensed my resistance and after we sat and discussed music for awhile (yeah, I’m sorta shocked that we were able to have an intelligent discussion about what we liked and disliked in music when we were only 13…). Anyway, Alec was a good listener and he returned the next week with a mix tape of hand-picked Pearl Jam songs that he thought I would like. Betterman was on that tape, I think it might have been the first song actually.
It’s weird how the mind works because this song triggered this memory which lead to another memory of Alec, a memory that changed my young adult life. I can’t really remember all the details, all I know is that Alec was being bullied by some other kids in the school. I think they decided that since he wore grunge style clothes, he was some kind of punk. One day, it escalated to the point where they flat out told him they were going to beat him up that day. I have a memory of Alec being a total wreck, his eyes bloodshot from crying and we convinced him to tell a teacher, that the thing you were supposed to do was tell and adult and they would fix it.
Unfortunately, the adults had the same biases based on Alec’s look – he told them he had been threatened and they said nothing would happen and told him to go to class.
And then he got jumped by three guys on his way to class.
I’m not even sure I ever saw him after that. His mother yanked him out of our school and transferred him to another school. But I remember that day as the day I realized that you can just trust people in authority to do the right thing. If those teachers had taken him seriously, it could have been avoided.
So these are the things that go through my head when any of the low-key Pearl Jam songs come on the radio…
Do you have any songs with powerful memories attached to them? Write your own post or share in the comments!