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The Old 97s

03 September 2012

At first I wanted to post about a great Old 97's show I went to last Friday. But I realized to properly tell you about what a great show it was, you would probably need to know the whole story about me and the Old 97's. If you'll bear with me for just a few paragraphs I'll try to catch you up. 

It started in May 2006 when I got the keys to my rent house in Lubbock for the next year. My friend came over and left his stereo. It had one CD in it that was scratched but did play one song, Lonely Holiday by the Old 97's. That July I came back to my rent house to live there by myself while I took summer school classes. Since I chose not to turn on cable or internet (or hot water - I was going through one of the grittier of my shades du hippie - if ever there is a place to try this I suggest 350 miles away from your mother), it was this song every time I needed a little companionship. Which is kind of funny, when you listen to the song., (Go ahead, listen to it. This post will be here upon your return...)

When school and my friends came back in town, I told him how much I loved the song. He said it was time to watch something, The Old 97's Live at the Troubador DVD. We both got out of class at noon on Fridays that semester. I'd get a text that would say, "Are you ready to party?" And I was, because that meant running over to his apartment and putting in this DVD. We watched the shit out of it. I use that phrase to describe both the number of times and the intensity of the focus with which it was watched. I marveled at every part, the gutsiness of the guitar rips and the depth of the lyrics and Rhett's hair and Murry's legs. Before we were dead we wanted to see them in a real show ourselves. Not to say that I might have been failing to reach my full potential in this chapter in my life, but I'm pretty certain if you pressed me for my life goals during this phase, going to an Old 97's show might have been my only answer for you.

Our group of friends did all make it to one show together, and it will be a hard night to ever forget. Soon after our group went its separate ways. It was an all together, all the time kind of group of best buds. That chapter is the time when I was getting some things totally wrong, but every time I was getting it right there was an Old 97's song playing and their songs are my souvenir that remind me that even though it's not something I can go back to, in college I had great friends and they carved some deep memories in my little music loving soul. Almost everything in my life is 100% different now, but at an Old 97's concert I get two hours to remember that I'm not too far away from being 20 years old, loving parts of my life to death and working through the other ones.   

Since their music straddles a handful of genres (rock, country, pop and some punk on their oldest songs), there's always quite the eclectic crowd at their shows. I started laughing last Friday at the House of Blues when I realized that between me and the guys standing to my left, we made up the three main demographics at an Old 97's show. See below L-R: freaks, geeks and cowboys. 


Dallas is a great place to see the Old 97's. This is where they started over 15 years ago, you'll get lots of people there doing the same thing as me, trying to feel like a stupid 20 year old for two hours again. By how loudly we all make sure to scream each word to every song, it seems to be working. 


Show speak: There is no left or right at an Old 97's show. You're either Ken side or Murry side. I'm usually about two people back on Team Murry, but since I was late to the party on Friday I got an open spot in front of Ken. If I weren't so sentimental about my love for Murry, I'd always stand by Ken. He's an incredible guitar player and gives the best show of any of the guys in the band.


Right now is a great time to see the Old 97's on tour. (They will be at ACL to my 35 South friends who like to keep it weird...) They're opening the show by playing their 15 year old album, Too Far To Care, in its entirety. 

Right as the band started touring heavily in Texas again, Markus and I started dating. I didn't bring a lot of my past chapter with me, but the Old 97's made the cut. A little over thirty shows later it's become a family tradition that makes me proud of where I've come from but happy for where I'm at in the same time. 


Maybe one day we'll have little groupie babies and we'll put those cute headphones on them and take them to rock out (real moms take a moment here to laugh at how much I have it all wrong. and then quit because this is my pre-mom fantasy, thank you!). Maybe they'll never make it to a show but we'll put on the songs and someone might tell them about how they're mom used to love to rock out and follow around a band...


And she followed the Almost Famous rules: She never ate the steak and she didn't take drugs. 

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