And I’ll do anything you ever dreamed to be complete. -John Rzeznik
The Goo Goo Dolls rose to mainstream fame in the mid-’90s with the song “Name” off A Boy Named Goo, released in 1995. Dizzy Up the Girl was released in the fall of 1998 and its most famous and popular single is “Iris,” which was also found on the City of Angels soundtrack. You know that movie: Nicolas Cage is an angel, he falls in love with Meg Ryan, gives himself the name “Seth Plate” and eventually chooses to “fall” and become a human in order to be with Meg Ryan. Almost immediately after he makes this huge decision, Meg Ryan is involved in a bicycle vs. semi accident and dies. Spoiler Alert. Sorry. Anyway, while such an untimely death is meant to evoke emotions of pity and sadness, Cage’s erstwhile angel articulates the movie’s main theme when he says something along the lines of “It was worth it, even if it was only for a few seconds.” Cage then visually bangs home the “human life is precious” motif by body surfing in front of a group of angels who are probably envious because they’ve never caught a sweet barrel, dude.
Well, I didn’t select either of the two songs mentioned above. Instead, I have gone with “Slide,” a personal favorite, also off Dizzy Up the Girl. As of yesterday morning, “Slide” was still on my iTunes playlist.
“Slide” was also on my very first mp3 playlist back in college. If my memory is correct, it was actually track number 1 on my Winamp, back in college when I and the rest of my generation began illegally obtaining music. Getting music for free – like everything else – was a key survival skill for the college student. We had no idea that in short order, we’d undercut the music industry and make it obsolete in the same way mp3s made CDs obsolete almost overnight. Back then, my chief concerns were turning in that paper on Shakespearean tragedy on time and figuring out who had cigarettes. It was a simpler time.
To look back on the few pictures I have of my college years is akin to looking back on a book a read several times, the last a while ago. I remember the beats, and seeing details quickly brings back those specific memories of plot and characters and conflict, but it all feels so distant; it’s like someone else’s first-person narrative that I’m extremely familiar with. This guy kind of looks like me. But to think of some of my behavior is cringe-inducing. I did the most carpeing of the diems from 18-22 because that’s exactly the window when one can most afford it. Like I’ve always said about this window: you’re old enough to get into shit, but young enough to live it down. Of course I’ll put on a suit covered in velcro loops and front-flip myself into an inflatable wall of velcro hooks: here’s no downside. Until you land on your head and end up with a stiff neck for three days. But seriously, who could have seen that coming?
“Slide” nails the carpe diem overture, right down to the “do you want to get married or run away?” And the basis of most carpe diem pieces is a willful ignorance of the future, of the effects time. The brief lyric at the top of this page obliquely hints at this problem, but woefully undersells it. Johnny’s promise is impossible to keep because while his lover may have a laundry list of things she’s dreamed to be complete, there are a thousand more items she hasn’t even considered yet, simply because she hasn’t gotten to them.
Whenever we prognosticate, by nature we look for some kind of arbitrary end point, like a marriage or kids or job – something very specific. This is problematic, however, because other than the most extreme cases, the future happens gradually rather than all at once. Back in the fall of 1998, I had just started college. I hadn’t even met the woman who would become my wife yet. She was in Nebraska, in love with someone else, completely unbeknownst to me. The future is the five (or 20) pounds we put on over time we don’t see passing, the few gray hairs that sprout up, the friends we talk to less and less until we can’t remember the last time we spoke to them.
As of this morning, “Slide” is no longer on my iTunes playlist because I had to erase my iTunes playlist from my phone to install iOS8. When I realized what updating my software would mean, I didn’t hesitate. Goodbye, music. It was the arbitrary endpoint of a movement that started in my mid-20’s when I stopped actively looking for new music. It continued as I increasingly listened to podcasts in traffic rather than my old music. If you had told me 5 or 6 years ago that my music would be so unimportant to me, I would have had difficulty imagining it. But that’s because my brain would have assumed the change as a clean break, quitting music cold turkey. But that’s not what happened; it was a process. The future happens every day, and it’s impossible to see, even when you’re looking for it. After installing iOS8, my phone tells me I have 6.7 GB of space. I could put my music back on my phone. But I don’t know that I will because the truth is, I don’t even miss it, even if I feel I should.