Anyway, You Can Make that Call

The piano notes were unmistakable as I entered the liquor store. I froze in my tracks.

“Ryan, I can’t believe this. They’re playing some incredibly niche Paul McCartney in here. Like, 2005 Paul McCartney. It’s an album my dad always played — Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. See, this is why Weber is the best.”

I am incredibly fond of Weber Street Liquor. It’s the liquor store for my alma mater, Colorado College. Students frequent this place so often, when school starts back up in August, Weber hangs a banner out front that says “Welcome home, Tigers!” My roommate, Marta, and I were regulars during our college years. Recognizing that we knew virtually nothing about craft beer, we embarked on a beer “connoisseurship.” We’d build a mix-and-match 6-pack (affectionately dubbed a “mixy sixy”) with some arbitrary rule (e.g. select only beers in purple cans). Then we’d proceed to split each beer over the course of the week, rate them out of 5, and write up a review. I would tape a torn piece of scrap paper to the can with our summary, and Marta would plant a succulent in the can. The good old days.

I am fond of Weber Street Liquor, but saying I am just “fond” of Chaos and Creation is a gross understatement. I have countless memories of listening to it top to bottom in our white Suburban, my dad driving and my younger sister in the seat beside me. Back then, the two of us loved the song “English Tea.” As I grew older, I came to appreciate “Too Much Rain,” particularly when our family pets passed on. These days, I could extoll the virtues of every track, but I especially like “Anyway” — the song that was playing overhead in that moment.

Bemused, Ryan proceeded to the task at hand: making a “mixy-sixy” for our friend, Eric. I was dedicated to the task too, but still distracted. I had been thinking of this particular album just recently for a variety of reasons, and it felt like a sign that it appeared in such an improbable context.

We proceeded to the counter and to my delight, Marie was working. Marie knows me from the college days and the years after. Sadly, I live on the other side of town now and so rarely get to visit Weber. This was a treat.

“Marie, how are you? It is so good to see you,” I began. “And also … is it you who put on Chaos and Creation? I love this album. It’s like, the album of my childhood.”

Marie smiled. “It is! You know, I’ve really been into Paul McCartney lately, especially his older stuff. And I think this album is just his very best.”

I couldn’t have agreed more. “Anyway” was coming to an end and I noted how much I loved it, since it also transitions to a completely different, hard rock tune. We exchanged some more words about Paul — me, recommending his albums Memory Almost Full and Egypt Station, Marie, explaining her suspicions about the track “Vanity Fair” — while Ryan listened and smiled patiently.

We left the store and I was in such disbelief that the interaction had even occurred. “I feel like I’ve got to call my dad! But it’s 10 p.m. on the East Coast.”

“Call him anyway.” That’s always Ryan’s response.

After confirming over text that Steve was indeed awake, I rang him. “First off, I am totally OK. I just needed to tell you about something that just happened, in the moment.” I proceeded to recount the whole C&C/Weber episode with Marie to him, and he laughed approvingly. He launched into giving me some Paul tidbits (impersonating the Beatle’s voice, of course — even Ryan had to admit, it was pretty good). I tell people that Steve and I have imaginary conversations with Paul McCartney all the time, so it was nice to have someone actually bear witness. I had been having a pretty awesome day, but this was really the cherry on top.

“I guess there’s only one proper way for me to end this call,” my dad said. “And that’s: ‘How kind of you to think of me.'”

Prior to this random visit to Weber, I had been stewing about Chaos and Creation, and more broadly, the albums from my youth that I keep coming back to. What was it about them, exactly? I was perplexed by their timelessness, I think. The fact that they could resonate as strongly now as they did when I was a child — though for different reasons — kind of boggled my mind.

To this day, I will regularly play C&C on a long drive and find myself tearing up at a different song every time. I may have cried to “Too Much Rain” at age 12, but at age 27, I’ll find myself sobbing to “This Never Happened Before.” Paul’s lyrics and tunes hit me on such a deep emotional level, having been planted at such a young age. In 2005, I was just 9 years old. Like rock climbing, C&C has been a part of me for two-thirds of my life. I could have grown out of it, but quite the opposite has happened; I’ve grown increasingly into it.

I am a big album person in general. If I have a long car ride ahead, I will queue multiple albums based on my mood. When I recommend an album to someone, it’s only if I believe it to be top-to-bottom good. Obviously, C&C is one of them. So too is Billy Joel’s The Stranger, Ben Folds’ Rockin the Suburbs. Alternative rock albums from my teenage years, like Wiped Out! by The Neighbourhood, You Haunt Me by Sir Sly. In more recent years, X by the Driver Era, LP3 by Hippo Campus. Whenever I really don’t know what I want to listen to, though, I know I will find solace in Language and Perspective, the first full-length album by my favorite band, Bad Suns.

My affinity for Bad Suns is not unlike my affinity for Paul. I have seen them maybe 9 times in concert. I have one of their lyrics tattooed on my arm (it should be noted I also have a yellow submarine tattoo on my foot). I obsess over their interviews and am in their top 0.5% of listeners every year. To put it simply, I love them. I love Paul. And it’s ironic that love should be the common denominator.

When I think of both Chaos and Creation and Language and Perspective and why they have continually affected me, I’ve realized it’s precisely because they’re not necessarily about love. Chaos and Creation speaks to companionship and friendship quite a bit; Language and Perspective is highly existential, trying to get to the meaning of all of this. Until just the past couple of years, I freely admitted that I didn’t think I knew what love was. Which meant that a lot of music was a little lost on me — but never those two albums.

I don’t care much for genres like rap or country are because they’re unrelatable to me. I can still totally appreciate their lyricism or sound, but I won’t connect with them the same way due to their content. In contrast, I have always been able to appreciate both Paul’s and Bad Suns’ lyricism and sound in the same and newfound ways through the years. And it’s because their content speaks to life more broadly. Though both albums touch on aspects of love, they’re not all about love. So too has been the story of my life.

Now that I have some semblance of what capital L “love” is, songs hit me harder than they ever have. But nothing will compare to the way these original albums cut to the very core of my being. There are few songs like “Anyway” that can stop me dead in my tracks just hearing the piano chords in the liquor store. There are few bands that I would willingly go see 9 times. In that sense, perhaps I knew what love was all along.

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A Little Cup of Chocolate

April 20, 2024

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