Fans of the so-called hair bands that were popular in my childhood will recognize the title of this article as a quote from a two-hit wonder called Firehouse (one hit, two hits). I don’t really know a whole lot about this band other than those two songs and what I’ve read in their Wikipedia article, but I discovered something interesting in there: Firehouse won “Favorite Hard Rock New Artist” at the 19th American Music Awards, held in early 1992. Firehouse didn’t really leave much of a legacy in the quarter-century since they first approached stardom. Firehouse isn’t really very well remembered these days, other than people in their 30s commenting “Hey, I remember that song! I haven’t heard it in years!” whenever one of their friends shares it on Facebook. You never see kids who weren’t born yet when Firehouse was popular wearing Firehouse T-shirts, for example.
What’s interesting about all this, though, is one of the bands that lost to Firehouse in that year’s Favorite Hard Rock New Artist category, a trio that perhaps you’ve heard of called Nirvana (one hit, two hits, three hits, four hits, five hits, six hits, seven hits, and probably more if not for the lead singer joining the 27 Club in 1994). So did Firehouse deserve the award over Nirvana? That’s a bit of a subjective matter. While researching this post, I discovered that Firehouse actually did have a third song to crack the top 20, one I don’t personally remember, and the seven big hits from Nirvana that I remember most didn’t all perform as well on the charts as I’d have thought considering how often I heard them back then. (Both Nevermind and In Utero were #1 albums, though.) But I don’t think anyone would doubt that Nirvana had a much greater influence on the history of rock music than Firehouse did. To me, it seems like whoever was in charge of selecting the Favorite Hard Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards was more comfortable with a band that sounded like all the other biggest hard rock bands of the last decade rather than a band that signaled a fundamental shift in popular music. They wanted to stick to the old ways, even though the world was changing.
That last sentence, that is my problem right now.
This is not the same world that rejected me and bullied me in 1985, this is not the same world in which I finally learned to have friends in 1993, and this is not the same world that taught me about Jesus and how to form romantic relationships God’s way in 1997. While some core principles and beliefs should never change, I can’t apply those the same way that I did, or that I wanted to, in the past.
This causes a lot of tension because I don’t like the way the world has changed. In order to socialize, I have to go to bars and blow a ton of money on bad-tasting judgment-impairing drinks only to have a hard time hearing anyone because it’s so loud in there. In order to pursue a relationship with a woman, I have to ask her out right as soon as I meet her, follow all these rules about how long to wait before I call her back, and go to bed with her after a couple weeks, which will usher in a period of awkward tension in which we aren’t sure if we’re a couple or not. Those things don’t make sense to me. I’d rather find somewhere to talk to people where you can actually listen to each other, but if I talk to strangers anywhere else it’s creepy. I’d rather get to know a woman on a platonic level, slowly, and spend time together with our clothes on before establishing clearly if we are in a serious relationship. But getting to know a woman on a platonic level sends the message that I’m not interested. I feel like I don’t fit in at church. I can keep looking for a church that has a group like the one I was in when I was in college, where the room is full of people in the same place in life as me, and after the singing and the Bible lesson, we socialize and hang out together. But the honest truth is that I’m not going to find a group like that. Adults don’t do that. They go home and go to bed early, because they have jobs and children to worry about.
I can’t change the ways of the world, unfortunately. I can change myself, and I can change my attitude, and I’m going to have to do a bit of both. Maybe I’ll have to stop clinging to some of the old ways. Maybe I’ll have to get a smartphone. Maybe I’ll have to let go of the wistful hope that I’ll ever experience the kind of unrestrained puppy love that teenage couples experience, with the all night last minute road trips and bonfires and stargazing. But I’ll also have to figure out which core values not to change. A woman who expects to sleep with a guy before even establishing if we’re a couple or not obviously isn’t the one. If I stay true to myself, but keep a positive attitude and stay open to new things, then hopefully I’ll be able to find my place in this world without having to sell out. I’m not going to fit in everywhere, and not everyone is going to like me, and life isn’t going to look like what I wanted my ideal life at age 22 to look like. But it’s okay to be a little different. It’s okay to be me and have a lot of different interests and connections that don’t usually go together.
After all, all three artists I linked to in this post are in my music collection, and they represent very different styles of music.
(And by the way, I didn’t post anything for Pi Day because I was attending the birthday party of my cousin’s little guys. Family is important. All the kids at school asking me if Pi Day was going to be the most amazing day of my life… well, it’s fun to point that out, but it’s really not that big of a deal in the long run.)