’90s Song of the Week: Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Little Heaven”

Change will happen whether we are still or moving. – Glen Phillips, “Little Heaven”

Minimalist, I guess.

Minimalist, I guess.

“Little Heaven” is one of my favorite Toad the Wet Sprocket songs. It falls above “All I Want,” “Good Intentions,” and “Walk on the Ocean,” and is closer to “Something’s Always Wrong,” which is my favorite. The song can be found on the 1995 release In Light Syrup which is considered (by Wikipedia users at least) a compilation album as it is a collection of B-sides and other “rare” tracks. I suppose this claim is defensible because I heard “Little Heaven” three years earlier, only I didn’t recognize it at the time.

“Little Heaven” is also listed on the soundtrack for the 1992 film Buffy The Vampire Slayer:

I know. Watching this now in 2014, it’s still impossible to decide who is hotter in this scene, Kristy Swanson or Dylan McKay Luke Perry. Anyway, you can hear “Little Heaven” in the background, and I only recognized Glen Phillip’s voice much, much later in my life (I was probably in my 20’s already). My memory is hazy, but I assume I did what I always do when I hear a song I am curious about but have no information on: memorize the lyrics that repeat the most, then type them into a search engine. In this case, I probably did it a little differently, going with something along the lines of toad the wet sprocket buffy the vampire slayer. And from that, this.

Most of the lyrics to “Little Heaven” are vague and abstract (especially the part about exhaling a cinnamon cloud), and my favorite concept has always been the one at the top of this entry. The supposition is that things will change around us regardless of how we behave. Everyone knows this is true, even if we don’t like the idea or even want to admit it. In the early ’90s, I would have been pretty sure that both Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry would go on to lengthy careers. Maybe that’s because I was young, or maybe everything is a coin flip.

I apologize. This is a zoom of an emailed copy of a copy of an old scan.

I apologize. This is a zoom of an emailed copy of a copy of an old scan.

She had practiced signing with her new last name for months.

She had practiced signing with her new last name for months.

When Lynnette and I met in the summer of 2000 we were both involved in romantic relationships. We worked together for two summers and never talked again. I called her one night because I was bored. We started hanging out. We fell in love. We gained weight. We got married. We gained weight. We bought a house. We had a kid. We got a dog. We gained weight. Back in 2000, I thought Lynnette was extremely attractive but had no designs on actually being with her. It just seemed too far-fetched. Too many things (that I couldn’t even see or comprehend) would have had to happen for us to happen. It was fun, but pointless to think about. Kind of like the Mets making the playoffs next year. Or any year, really.

 Maybe a teenager or romantic would use words like fate and destiny, but since I am neither of those things (ignore for a second my maturity or lack thereof), I do not subscribe to such beliefs. I don’t even have a word for what I think it is; the closest concepts are luck and random chance. As I’ve written before, the most jarring thing about falling in love with Lynnette and eventually marrying her is the illustration that despite the fact that it was her, it really could have been anyone I ever crossed paths with. We never know.

We want spontaneity and we also want guarantees, but only on our terms. It isn’t a contradiction because both scenarios are symptoms of an overall desire for control over particular aspects of our lives. That’s impossible. Life is filled with far too many moving parts outside of our purview. The future is unknowable, and to a certain extent, so is the past. Our experiences are like our relationships to music. The guitar riff or keyboard solo or chance meeting or bad break-up may never change, but it’s entirely possible that their meaning, impact, and value to us will.

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