Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
This column isn’t about some kind of great moral. It isn’t a grand allegory for the music industry or a metaphor for the state of the blogosphere. It’s about the day I found a CD by The Rapture at a Flying J station in the middle of Wyoming at 3 a.m.
That day was yesterday. Brittany and I were driving across Wyoming in the dead of night on our way to my sister’s house in Nebraska for Thanksgiving. We stopped off for gas at a Flying J somewhere in the middle of the great, empty state. This wasn’t just a regular gas station, this was one of those stations that comes with showers for truckers and is consistently crowded, no matter what time of night it is.
As we perused the selection at this truck driver’s haven, we found a bin of odd DVDs and CDs. You know the kind. It was full of what you might expect–Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits, Romantic Songs for Lovers, and a Billy Crystal triple feature. After flipping through the selection on all sides of the display, I picked up a CD and promptly dropped my jaw. It was by The Rapture!
For those of you who don’t know, The Rapture are a New York-based indie, electronica rock band. Their 2003 album, Echoes, launched them to indie recognition. If you’ve heard tracks like “House of Jealous Lovers,” “I Need Your Love” or “Heaven,” you know what kind of great music these dudes are capable of. But to find them in this (excuse my labeling) podunk gas station, was unheard of!
But I didn’t find Echoes in this Flying J. I didn’t even find their 1999 debut, Mirror, or their 2006 record, Pieces of the People We Love, or the recently released In the Grace of Your Love. That would make some kind of sense. Instead, sitting among Willie Nelson compilations and Aaron Tippin albums, was the band’s 2001 EP, Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks.
Needless to say, I paid $3.99 and popped the EP on in the car. Of course, the record isn’t exactly good (despite Pitchfork’s 7.3 rating). The songs are messy and poorly structured–it portrays The Rapture’s noisy past that later led some truly great music, but isn’t the best listen in itself.
But that isn’t really the point is it? The point is that a relatively unknown EP by a well-respected indie band somehow made its way into a gas station known for it’s terrible selection of everything but trucker things. How did it get there? How long has it been sitting in that bargain bin? If I didn’t buy it, would some other indie music fan later pick it up? Or would it sit there until the gas station closed and end up in a dump somewhere in the middle of the country?
Life works in mysterious ways, folks. Sometimes you stumble upon something totally out of place that makes a huge impact and changes your life. Sometimes you find an old EP by The Rapture. Most of the time, you find nothing at all and move on with your life unaffected.
What’s the lesson here? Take the time to smell the dandelions and maybe you’ll find a daisy? Assuming things are the worst makes an ass of you, me and all those things you made an assumption about? For every 700 Willie Nelson CDs at a gas station, there is one by The Rapture? Let’s just say that most times you find yourself in a weird gas station in a weird place, staring at very normal CD. But sometimes you find yourself in a normal gas station in a normal place, staring at a very weird CD. Life, and Flying J stations, can grant you a nice surprise–if you look.
How does that sit with you? Good? Normally? Unexceptionally? Poorly? Whatever, it’s Thanksgiving.