I had no idea what this song was about when I first heard it in junior high. Honestly, I didn’t know what “bumped” meant in the context of this song until maybe… a coupla years ago? But it was one of my favorite songs in ninth grade, and I think was a harbinger of the sort of thing I would end up gravitating toward once high school came around and I moved on from pop music.
It’s got a good beat, some good syncopation, and a catchy chorus. I remember that there were a lot of different versions of the song depending on where you heard it. The End, Seattle’s alternative station, played the song in its entirety, while the two major soft rock/pop stations I occasionally listened to/was subjected to played a slightly different version of the song which basically avoided the part of the bridge where everything gets dark. MTV played yet another version of the song which contained more of the bridge, but avoided the overt drug references at the end.
In retrospect, it’s pretty interesting how the song was more-or-less stripped of its meaning depending on where you heard it, and I kinda wonder what Stephen Jenkins and co. thought of the ways their song was neutered.
I used to HATE Alkaline Trio.
It was always pretty irrational. My buddy Ben, who I gave a ride to most mornings in high school, decided one day that we were going to listen to a new album he’d just bought. This always ends poorly, but in this case the album was Alkaline Trio’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. Something about Matt Skiba’s (and Dan Andriano’s, but to a lesser extent) voice grated on me, and neither the music nor the lyrics had any initial appeal.
Eventually I was won over, even though they’re still pretty terrible live. I initially came around listening to From Here to Infirmary, the follow-up album to Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, but these days I hold both albums in fairly equal esteem, along with their debut Goddamnit and their next album Good Mourning. From there, though, things start to get dodgy. “Dead and Broken” is from the BYO Split Series Volume 5 that came out after Mourning in 2004 and marked the beginning of a transition for the band from pop-punk to punkish pop. Crimson would follow in 2005, and while the production is shamelessly glossy and overwrought, it had enough high points to justify an occasional spin when I’m in the right mood. I find everything after to be increasingly mushy, however, even though I still give every new album a try out of loyalty (with maybe a touch of masochism).
Anyway, in 2004 (I think–it’s hard to pin down exactly when it was) I went to Warped Tour with my buddies Peter and Nick, and Peter and I each made compilation CDs with songs from the bands playing to get us psyched on the way. While I love being able to create a playlist of whatever I want to hear whenever I want (on my phone, no less) these days, crafting a compilation was a different experience then. You only had 80 minutes of play time, so you had to make your choices judiciously. Each of us had slightly different bands we gravitated toward, along with different song choices, but this was one track we agreed on. The funny thing is, I don’t think Peter even really liked Alkaline Trio that much–this was just a really good song that had the perfect fast tempo and percussive beat for driving 300 miles in one day.
Alkaline Trio - Dead and Broken