Sometimes I call myself a “sonic youth.” It’s become a bit of a pet name this first month of school — a pep name, if you will — that reminds me I am still a crisp young gun, traipsing the sunny streets of Ann Arbor with as much musicality as possible. But also, I’ve been into Sonic Youth lately.

Teen Age Riot – Sonic Youth

“Yeah, you’re it,” Kim Gordon begins the song whispering, in that weird I’m-Kermit-the-Frog-but-also-your-fantasy tone of voice — hers, and only hers. And somehow, I can’t help but believe her; I could be walking down the street, feeling the farthest thing from “it,” yet she always reassures me that I am. A sonic youth, full of vitae and a healthy balance of useful and useless knowledge, I am. Gordon doesn’t know any of this, of course, but if she did I’d like to think she’d approve and start a teenage riot with me.  

Bulls on Parade – Rage Against The Machine

At my core, in the teeny tiny crevice of my heart noir, I’ve always been in love with rock music. Ever since I learned to listen, I’ve had this insatiable craving for it, two ears that perk up like an eager German Shepard’s at the slightest strum of a Fender. Many humans, like Gordon, don’t know this about me — I have a generally perky demeanor, so when I glow up at the mention of Rage Against the Machine in public, forced smiles of latent confusion tend to manifest.

What Ever Happened? – The Strokes

But I listen on, as I always have. In psychology, there’s this thing called a flashbulb memory: a moment from the storage bin of your life you remember in sharp detail — the smells, the sounds, what you did, what you said. The only flashbulb memory I can summon involves tiny Melina nuzzled on her black leather living room couch circa 2006, watching “Marie Antoinette” for the first time and hearing The Strokes’ “What Ever Happened?” play during a pivotal scene. I felt instantly more alive when Julian Casablancas wailed, when the guitar pounced forward. “This is everything my ears have been looking for” is the feeling I had. “This is what I like.”

Some Girls – The Rolling Stones

I still feel like this when I listen to any kind of rock. Almost love-struck, I feel in-tune to my surroundings and myself simultaneously. All of my senses are heightened by that harmony, and my mental state is mollified — where some girls need a kiss, I need Mick Jagger telling me I’m under his thumb. Alas, at the risk of veering into un-punk, Parmesan cheese territory: I feel ready to take on the world when I’m plugged in, no matter the circumstance.

And invincibility is a hell of a drug. Lately — with new classes, work, 5,000 readings, the nagging thought of the future and the puzzles of the past nipping at my heels — I have needed a dose of it. Rock injects me. It reminds me that I can do it. I don’t need yoga (well, maybe) and I don’t need to whine about it. Instead, I can listen to the great musical trailblazers of yesteryear whine about it and squash my own silly fears along the way. That’s what a sonic youth would do.

So, lately, when I step out of my apartment building every morning, I’ve got the Misfits crawling into my eardrums. The fresh air is always a little jarring, and the door is always a little harder to push open than anticipated, but I’ll be OK. Hell, I’ll thrive.

Because “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch. You better think about it, baby.”

Where Eagles Dare – The Misfits


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