Yesterday was the most uneventful but also the most stressful day of tour so far. After a good talk about the post-Beatles discographies with Josh from the Turncoats, we hit Waffle House again (I actually had a waffle this time), parted ways with Dan, and started the drive to St. Louis.
In the meantime, we were encountering two small crises.
First, we realized we were double-booked for Friday. A show in Kansas City that we thought fell through suddenly had an active Facebook event, but we had already replaced it with a show in St. Louis. Second, we had nowhere to stay at the end of our off day. Eventually, we settled on playing the St. Louis show because the KC one had no locals on it and springing for a hotel, but the process was rough, and I’m glad it is only going to happen once on this tour.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, we had one of the best of moments of tour so far. During the drive, Harry put on Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American. A quick survey showed that everyone in the van had had a different experience with the record. Harry latched onto it right when it was released and knew every word and guitar line better than I do. I love the album to death, but I discovered it primarily after Futures was released. Matt knew most of the songs but only through shuffling the band’s discography. Tyler had heard the singles. Charlie was asleep.
Even so, I realized there was something unifying about that album. It was a gateway to punk and emo for an entire generation. As we moved from the blistering opener to Davey Von Bohlen’s obscenely catchy guest spot to the megahit to the deep cuts, I was revisiting and remembering the emotions and moments I had so inextricably linked with these songs years ago, and I could tell everyone else was too. A truly great record can do that. It can sum up the separate experiences of four (or four million) people and preserve them forever in a melody or guitar solo.
But here’s why it was special for me: There was no longing to go back to where I was when I first heard “The Middle” or the very specific moment that I link to the line, “I would write to you from Museum Mile,” or the time Derrick and I talked about “My Sundown” at the end of high school. I wanted to be right there in the van in that moment. We were all quiet during “Hear You Me,” not quite looking at each other because that song has too much something in it that is always on the brink of overflowing and every Jimmy Eat World fan knows it. I’ve been trying to figure out what the something is for years, and I think I got it. When Jim Adkins sang, “What would you think of me now, so lucky, so strong, so proud?” this time, it meant as much to me as any lyric ever has. I can finally look back at every person I’ve ever opened up to about my dreams and my passions and my pains and my setbacks, every person who has influenced me and pushed me and pulled me back and supported me, and I can say that I’m where I want to be. I’m happy with where I’m at and where I seem to be going. I’m not settled, but I’m not directionless.