There is a game that many of my friends play that goes something like this: You are at a social event among peers and somebody will ask the question, “What is the one CD (or DVD or book) in your collection that you are embarrassed to admit that you own?” Then someone who takes pride in having the trendiest record collection of independent artists will confess that they also own Billy Joel’s River of Dreams. Or someone who is a deep lover of avant garde foreign films will admit to actually purchasing Ghostbusters 2.
The equivalent in my 52 song essay project is the inclusion of Blink 182. This California trio consisting of Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker happens to produce incredibly catchy pop-punk songs. They also spend a tremendous amount of time at live concerts telling jokes that most 14 year olds would consider immature. The immaturity bleeds onto their albums. “Going Away to College” is from the album Enema of the State, an album that also includes a song entitled “Dysentery Gary.” Blink 182 is basically the musical version of Garbage Pail Kids. But, if integrity means being honest about your whole self, warts and all, then I will openly admit that I own four Blink 182 albums and that I enjoy them.
When I put together the list of 52 songs, I debated whether to include Blink or not, but decided they are representative of my musical canon. Plus, the song “Going Away to College” is a great song to write about at the end of August as so many in our churches are going away to college.
As irreverent as Blink may be, they are also eerily empathetic poets of teenaged emotional life. Songs like “Stay Together for the Kids,” “Adam’s Song,” and “Story of a Lonely Guy” address themes of divorce, self-destructive behavior, and isolation. “Going Off to College” addresses the drama of saying goodbye to your high school sweetheart. I find the chorus to be evocative: “I haven’t been this scared in a long time / and I’m so unprepared, so here’s your valentine / a bouquet of clumsy words, a simple melody: / This world’s an ugly place but you’re so beautiful to me.”
You can click here to listen to Blink 182 perform this song live.