Me and my friend Chris were in the car last night talking abouthow songs can totally bring you back and I was trying to explainto him about Rough Trade and grade 4. Chris is only 22 orsomething and I'm 29 so it's hard to explain any of it to him.
The whole thing started a couple of months ago when I readCarole Pope's autobiography, Antidiva. It wasn't that great. Ireally wanted it to be sexier and darker and more bizarre thanit was. I mean. I don't know. While I was reading it I got theoverwhelming urge to hear some Rough Trade so I downloaded"Highschool Confidential" and "All Touch". Since then I've listenedto Highschool Confidential about a million times. I've gottenINSIDE that song, man. First there's the weirdness of hearing itafter all these years. I could reproduce those production valueswith a casio keyboard hooked up to a walkman. But that's notreally important.
This is the important thing. When I was in grade 4 mygrandparents gave my brother and me these matching radios thatwere just built right into giant headphones. We loved them causewe could listen to them in bed and no one would know. Me and mybrother had this habit of trading rooms all the time. Just overnight. I don't know, it was good sometimes to get away from itall and sleep in a sort of unfamiliar place. In grade 4 we didthat a lot. I have the clearest memories, my first rockinrollmemories, of lying in my brother's bed listening to that radio.I used to wiggle around with my guts in knots. Grade 4 is a bigyear for hormones. I couldn't sleep ever. Absolutely nothinggoing through my head but my brain exploding nonetheless. What atime. I thought I was dying. But I enjoyed it a little bit too.They were re-doing my brother's room and it smelled likewallpaper paste all the time. The air was thick with it.Everything was thick The songs that wrenched my guts most werethings like "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins or Genesis, "HitMe With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benetar, "Do Do Do, Da Da Da" by thePolice, something by Journey, something by Styx and "HighschoolConfidential" by Rough Trade.
The thing about Highschool Confidential is that it's aboutHIGHSCHOOL and I was 5 years away from it. I couldn't fuckingwait. Rough Trade was making some serious claims about thenature of highschool. They made it sound like a prolonged spasmof tight-jeaned bisexual drama. I couldn't wait! Grade 4 was souptight. Sex in grade 4 consisted of kissing tag and kissing tagwas okay but it was very rules-oriented. The rules were: girlsrun around the playground with clitoral bodies so hard they'repressing against your rectums and you feel like you gotta shit.Boys run after the girls, tackle them and hang a gob of spit intheir faces until the bell rings. That's all good stuff butthere was no room for improvisation, like the time I tackledlittle Craig Minakata and hung a gob of spit in his face. I gota lot of flak for that. I got a lot of flak in grade 4, period.Grade 4 truly sucked. But you know, in the dark at night in mybrother's room Carole Pope promised this bright future for mewhere it was going to be okay to cream my jeans over acombination Anita Ekburg/Mamie Van Doren. Or you know, who evenKNOWS what else would be okay. It would be a blackboard jungle,man.
I listen to this song over and over now and I can't get over it.I can't get over how beautiful and hilarious it is. Obviously,in grade 4 I had no idea "Highschool Confidential" was camp. I hadno concept of camp, I was a little kid. I was taking the songliterally. I was pretty sure the singer was a girl but not ahundred percent. That's why it blew my mind so much. I thoughtthis song was proof that by the time we got to highschooleveryone would be a lot more open-minded and weird andinteresting. I thought that by highschool we would all beentirely built out of sex and we would wear denim and leatherevery day and it would be menacing and there would be obsessionand cigarettes and rumours about shop teachers and hot gradenine guys involving blowjobs for cash. Okay maybe that's myhighschool fantasy now. I'm getting all mixed up now.
But when a girl is lying in her brother's bed with her secretgrade 4 radio now and she hears Blink 182 or Creed or Eminem Iwonder if it does anything to shape her into a sexual utopian.Maybe it doesn't matter. As it turned out, highschool sucked.The only thing it was okay to do in highschool was work atMcDonalds to buy expensive shoes. The good news is that now I'ma grown up and it's okay to do whatever the hell I want. And Ido.