On the Radio (Flashback): Time Bomb

In the mid 1990s I used to work about 45 minutes away from home at a gas station–much to the chagrin of my parents who couldn’t understand why the hell I had to drive 45 minutes to pump gas when there were perfectly good places to pump gas in our home town.  The long and the short of it was: (1) I didn’t want to be caught pumping gas by someone I actually knew and (2) there was a girl involved (the place was owned by her father).

As with most things, the law of unintended consequences had a powerful showing here.This was the glorious year of the Ford LTD Stationwagon.  First of all, since I was young and driving a lot not only did I get into my first fender-bender, run out of gas during a snowstorm and receive my first, second and third traffic citations, but I also got to listen to the radio constantly at a time when alt-rock was king. During many of my long drives into the cold, I heard songs by the band Rancid.

I can’t listen to this song without getting happy now. What the living hell was wrong with me?

As I mentioned a few months back when I was going through my obsessive phase with Palma Violets, I was dismissive of almost everything in second-wave punk for no good reason. Although I grudgingly acknowledged the quality of Green Day (and who didn’t? the radio played us all into submission), Rancid–with its snarling vocals and stripped down sound–seemed easy to mock and easier to dismiss. And yet, when I listen to it now, it seems so much more transgressive, immediate, and authentic (again, whatever that means) than a lot of the other schmaltz I thought was good. (“Wonderwall? What the fuck?)

I think that a good deal of my suspicion of punk’s second sailing has to do with poorly held and even more poorly defined ideas of authenticity and originality. At 16, I thought that such words had meaning and had no concept of things like appropriation, homage, and metamorphosis. Even worse, when it came to a band like Rancid, I was too fucking ignorant to know that two of the members were old-timers from Operation Ivy who had enough cache and real DIY punk character to make the members of Green Day blush. Hell, Rancid never even signed with a mainstream label.

So, I guess the lesson here is that if you’re worried that someone else is a poseur, you should probably check into their bona fides and, even before that, do the whole monkey in the mirror thing and make sure you’re not a complete fake. I’m trying to make amends for this and many other asshole moments in my youth.  Just today I downloaded the album.  My kids are going to be rocking out with safety pins this afternoon.

And what do you think of all this, my brother?

4 comments on “On the Radio (Flashback): Time Bomb

  1. theyoungerj says:

    I certainly like Rancid more than Green Day and I knew little about their band members. I just caught the end of Behind the Music: Green Day again where Billy talks about how he doesn’t understand the punk rockers and their make up and it cuts to a scene with him wearing make up. What a poser.

  2. T.A. Gerolami says:

    I never learned to respect Green Day. It’s probably narrow minded of me, but there’s just something about their stuff that never clicked with.

    Rancid, though, I never owned an album but always liked to catch them on the radio. I think I first heard Timebomb when delivering the papers and I was instantly smitten, but I somehow never heard who they were until much later, and by that point I guess the momentum to buy it was gone. I had no idea they had members from Operation Ivy; I always see them name checked by ska purists as the enemy and that sort of thing. Interesting.

    • theelderj says:

      I knew you’d sound off on this post one day…

      I am shocked now as I listen to Rancid’s albums how much I like the band. I am glad I went back to them and stopped being so much of an asshole.

      Ska Purists? Isn’t Ska essentially impure?

      • T.A. Gerolami says:

        There may be only a few of them, but they seem to all hate Rancid, The Bosstones, etc. etc. But I’m glad you went back and gave things a second shot!

        Purists are purists. I have those impulses and try to suppress them, not always successfully.

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