Music History

Published on October 15th, 2017 | by Brent Chittenden

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52 Albums That Changed My Life (and Other Exaggerations), Chapter 42: Beautiful Midnight

I’ve mentioned before how I’m fascinated by how music connects to memory… or at the very least how it connects to my memory. I have very distinct memories that all involve music, I’ve shared a lot of them in the other chapters but there are even these little snippets. I don’t remember much of SARSFest at Downsview Park in great detail, which is odd since I wasn’t the least bit intoxicated. I remember Rush’s set and AC/DC who just knocked it out of the park without even trying, but the one memory that sticks out more than anything else is the image of my friend Chris, throwing his fist into the air during “TNT” and shouting “Oy!” at the top of his lungs. I completely remember seeing a kid I don’t even know, wiping out on a skateboard in front of me while I was driving back from work due to the fact that Q107 was playing The Eagles’ “Desperado” at that moment and it seemed to match up perfectly and poetically with how this kid was stumbling.

I also remember the connections that music has made in my love life.

I’ve had three great loves in my life. That’s not to say that there weren’t women in between these particular loves and it’s also not to say that those other women didn’t mean anything to me then or now for that matter. But that being said, there are three in particular that have significant importance to my life on a whole and affected major change both amazing and heartbreaking.

You met the first of these great loves back in the chapter on Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?. The last is my wife, who gets a chapter all to herself and her particular musical collection later on. The second you’ve met briefly in an earlier chapter.

I’m speaking of the girlfriend that was there the night I got really, really, really, drunk and air-guitared with my best friend to Dire Straits. Now before I go much further, if anyone ever needed proof that she loved me at that point, the fact that she did not break up with me after seeing her drunk boyfriend pulling off this sad moment in wannabe rockdom, I direct you to go back to that chapter.

But I digress. In an effort to protect the innocent, we’ll call this particular girl Ms. W. This is the story of my love, hate and love again relationship with Matthew Good Band’s Beautiful Midnight.

1999 was the end of what I like to think of as the golden period of Alternative rock in Canada. Edwin had left I Mother Earth and both he and his former bandmates were releasing material that was good but not nearly as good as their former collaboration. Pop and New Country were starting to claw back on the charts and would eventually take over as many of the bands I loved were going on hiatus after years of touring or they were simply falling apart. But there were some bright spots and one of which was Beautiful Midnight.

Ms. W. and I’s relationship started under every circumstance they tell you not to date someone. We had both been recently broken up with, we worked together, I was starting college that upcoming September. Despite this, we ended up dating in the most random of ways, or at least from my point of view, you’d have to ask her. We hung out a little over the summer and there was a movie I wanted to see that none of my friends did or could go see and she invited herself along. A handhold and a power outage at her house later and we were dating.

Shortly after it was released, Ms. W. picked up Beautiful Midnight and as it so happened, we got a thunderstorm the night she put it on. I just remember how perfect everything seemed to be as she lied in my arms. The only thing lighting up the room being the display on her stereo and the lightning as it lit up the sky. Not making out or even talking, just quietly letting the storm and music consume us.

We would later catch the Matthew Good Band at a show at what was the Warehouse, later the Kool Haus, now a parking lot or a condo on Toronto’s waterfront. If you never got a chance to see Matthew Good of the Matthew Good band during those years, I can’t explain how much energy those guys had. And again, I remember Ms. W. singing along with music, cheering with one of her best friends at the time as “Load Me Up” blasted through the concert space, her face being lit up occasionally by and orange filtered stage light.

I’ve often described in various chapters that a good album is a complete work. It’s not only good songs, it’s how they are placed in the album and how those songs flow into one another. Beautiful Midnight is one of those albums that’s a prime example of what I mean. No song is in the wrong place and each tune just drives you to listen to the next tune on the album.

My favorite tunes are “Strange Days,” “Suburbia,” and “The Future is X-Rated.” “Strange Days” is just this beautiful moment of quiet on the record. Just a wonderful tune that shows how delicate Good can be as a songwriter and performer. “Suburbia” is… and I really hate to sound like one of those guys… is a sunrise. It’s just a building nice bright spot on the album. “The Future is X-Rated” is a solid rocker of a track and I’m kind of amazed that some Canadian rock band hasn’t chosen to cover it because I really think it’s a tune you can kick some major ass with because lord knows Good and company did.

When we broke up, it was incredibly rough on me. And the minute we broke up, I HATED Matthew Good and any song he did, in particular, anything from Beautiful Midnight. Every time I heard his voice, I just thought of that magical night and how I wouldn’t ever have it back again. For the first few weeks, it nearly brought me to tears followed by large amounts of anger. I tried to get her back a number of times, each time, she being the wiser of the two of us, ended up calling it off.

The weird part of it is, due to how it had attached itself to my memories, Beautiful Midnight was the casualty of the break-up. The other bands that she was really into at the time were still good with my emotional core. Even the bands I didn’t particularly like like Creed or Dr. Dre (much like me, she had very wide taste in music). I’m sure if I added up the hours of how much she listened to them while we dated, they would be far more than the hours we spent with Beautiful Midnight but yet it was Beautiful Midnight I couldn’t listen to.

I could go into the details of the incidents along the way to why we broke up but a weird thing happens when you get older or at least in my case. Time heals wounds and you become much more aware of yourself and what you used to be. The truth of the matter is, we were young, I was an immature kid in many ways and I’m sure she would say something similar. While at the time I could have pointed fingers at how it was all her fault but now, we were both at fault or neither of us was at fault depending on how you want to look at it. As it stands today, we’re on pretty good terms. We talk every once and while and she got married to a guy who sounds pretty awesome. I learned a lot from that relationship much to benefit of my wife who I love very much (we’ll get back to her at some point with a really sappy story that I love) and doesn’t have to go through some of the stupid ass shit that Ms. W. because I learned from those mistakes. Took a couple of years but I learned.

As the memories of the hurt faded, so did my hatred of Matthew Good. It started slowly. I was able to listen to his songs on the radio. A while after that, I began to realize that I missed those songs and I picked up In A Coma, a best of compilation of both Good’s solo material and the Matthew Good Band era. Eventually, Beautiful Midnight in its entirety was allowed back in. It still holds up as an amazing album and any bad memories that I may have attached to it have been wiped away replaced by just the good ones.

It’s weird the power that music has on the memory isn’t it?


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About the Author

Brent Chittenden is a freelance writer with a gift for the geek. Currently a writer with A Journal Of Musical Things and a podcaster with True North Nerds, he's also written for Comic Book Daily, Explore Music and a dozen other places. Currently, he is the co-host of the True North Nerds podcast. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/bcchittenden


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