Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Favorite Albums: The Offspring - Americana

This is it. This is the beginning of it all. The Offspring's Americana was the first album that I ever bought with my own money, being only 12 at the time, it was kind of a big deal. It had blatant use of the words 'fuck,' 'shit,' and 'bitch,' while not new phrases for me, the fact that I could listen to these songs in the presence of my parents was a big deal. Up to this point my musical tastes were dominated by what my parents listened to. Fortunately, most of this was good music, with my dad being a hard rock/metal fan from way back (Manowar, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Deep Purple, etc) and my mother enjoying piano music (Billy Joel and Elton John), British (The Beatles, The Pretenders) and ...well mom stuff (lots of soulful women and poppy tunes). It was from this eclectic upbringing that I evolved, first into punk revival (The Offspring and Green Day) and nu metal (KoRn and Limp Bizkit), then later into power metal and beyond. But it all began with Americana.

Singles like "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" and "Why Don't You Get A Job?" were what catapulted this album into mainstream media, and by extension, my middle school class. At the time I was working on the school radio and these songs were requested and played pretty much every day. So along side nu metallers KoRn, hip-hop acts like Nelly and Cypress Hill, and the alternative rock band Weezer, The Offspring became on my most-listened songs list.
While those singles enticed me to the album, it was their lesser-known songs that kept me there. See this was the time before iPods and computers in every room of the house. I had a CD player and head phones, a carrier case that held 5 albums, and a 2 mile bike ride to school every day, so if I chose a CD to listen to it would get a dozen listens per week. "Walla Walla" with it's silly sound and lyrics immediately became one of my favorites, along with "Americana," "Have You Ever," "Staring At The Sun," and "She's Got Issues." It was at this time that I knew that Americana was one of my favorite albums.
Even though I listened to the record (is it ok to call a release that was never released on vinyl a record?) hundreds of times in my life, there still were some songs that were out of my reach or comprehension; I remember that "Pay The Man," a long psychedelic semi-stoner style song, was one of the last songs that I didn't much care for - but now it reigns as one of my favorites, with my changing tastes over time. "The Kids Aren't Alright," a play off of The Who's "The Kids Are Alright," and "Feelings," a semi-cover/spoof of the same song (except with opposite meaning) by Morris Albert, were both very dark and depressing, and filled with subject matter that my 12-year-old brain could not understand, but as I grew up and learned the woes of the world, these songs began to take hold and have meaning for me.

As you can see, Americana is an album of layers, some songs are simple enough for a prepubescent mind to get, and some are deep and dark enough for the older crowd. It is the perfect album to grow with, with the understanding of songs being modified as you grow and experience new things. It is the oldest album in my collection (as far as how long I've owned it) and one of my most played. It is also one of the only albums that I still listen to from this era (Nelly doesn't do it anymore for me), with only the KoRn albums Follow The Leader and Issues having more nostalgia for me.
Americana may not be The Offspring's most popular work, and it didn't launch off their best singles (to the popular mind), but it was their best work to me, and really that's all I care about.

Track Listing
  1. Welcome
  2. Have You Ever
  3. Staring At The Sun
  4. Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)
  5. The Kids Aren't Alright
  6. Feelings
  7. She's Got Issues
  8. Walla Walla
  9. The End of The Line
  10. No Breaks
  11. Why Don't You Get A Job?
  12. Americana
  13. Pay The Man


faithful axe said...

Nice man. Cool review of "Americana." It's one of those albums that takes me back too.

The Klepto said...

As I said, my very first album owned, and by far one of my favorites. Thanks for reading and commenting!