As you may have guessed from previous entries, I wasn’t exactly a ladies’ man in high school. Sure, there are plenty of girls that I wanted for my very own but when it came right down to it I was either too shy to actually ask any of them out or when I did, I fumbled so badly that they either didn’t know that’s what my intention was or they were just confused. Occasionally if I thought a girl liked me, I would get so locked on to a target that in today’s world, I would have definitely had a visit from the police warning me about stalking.
And to those girls, I say, sorry and thank you for understanding that I was just inept at social stuff and not calling the cops on me.
That being said, lightning did manage to strike me in 1996 when I began to date a cute, short girl who had just moved to my high school from England. I’m not sure what the attraction was from her side other than I was smart and a bit of a fiend for British music and television. I knew Monty Python, Faulty Towers, Doctor Who. I knew what Glastonbury was and even had a VHS of one of the latest festivals care of Much Music airing it.
There was only one problem.
She liked Blur.
It was a Romeo & Juliet story that ultimately ended in tragedy.
I’m kidding! She would break it off with me a number of months later and at the time it felt like the end of the world but in retrospect, we were in high school. The chances of it becoming a lifelong love affair were slim to none and in fact, we are Facebook friends today. So any hard feelings are long forgotten and forgiven.
Except for the strong possibility that she may have been on the right side of the Oasis/Blur debate.
For younger readers, 1995 and 1996 were the height of the Britpop battle. The British press had built it up to huge levels. Noel Gallager even went so far to say something about wishing Damon Alburn got AIDS. I mean, you hear about beefs between musicians and they usually coming down to cattiness and name-calling. In rap music, the beefs may even get to the point of veiled threats of violence but it’s very rare that any musician will come out and openly wish death on a sales rival.
But that was the state of Britpop that year.
I don’t know what it was about Oasis that attracted me to their side. I think it must have been the guitar driven sound of that album and in the end, I think it was the obvious cheerfulness of Parklife that made me stay away from Blur. At the end of the day, the lady and I agreed to disagree and made out which was preferable to arguing.
Reflecting back on it, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is still a very good album but as I’ve gotten older the cracks have started to show a little bit. I’m not sure why I considered it better than it’s predecessor, Definitely Maybe at the time. Definitely Maybe is a much looser and organic record, Morning Glory is very carefully laid out. My friends at the time used to joke that they were the “Shitty Beatles” and on Morning Glory, I can most definitely hear the Fab Four’s influence on this collection of songs.
That’s not to say it isn’t good. It’s a great album with a bunch of solid tracks on it. “Wonderwall”, despite being beaten to death at every open mic night in bars around the world, is still a really good song. “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” is still a great song. I still like “Champagne Supernova” but for different reasons than I did. Originally I thought it was a great song and a wonderful way to end an album. Now I like it for those reasons but also because it’s so ridiculously over the top. I mean, this is a band that by the time this song comes up is so full of pride at their good work but also a huge amount of ego that this song goes so far that it dares you to call it ridiculous or love it. For whatever reason, I can’t help bu love it.
To be honest, this album didn’t exactly change my life, it was more the situation around it. You always remember everything around that first big crush. I can tell you what dessert I had when I first went to her house to meet her parents. I can tell you about a field trip we had in history class where we held hands and cuddled the entire time we were walking around the ROM. Whenever I hear songs from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, I just get instant nice memories of that relationship.
There is an epilog to this story, however. Pretty much from the entire time we dated until well after we had broken up, I had sworn off Blur. I thought it was crap and didn’t understand what she ever saw in them. That being said, after I was done college, I ended up working with a guy named Colin. Col was from Scotland and being around the same age I was, had grown up with the UK music scene directly as opposed to us Canadians getting it on a delay. We got to talking at work and discovered we had very similar musical tastes. He turned me on to The Streets before they hit the radio in North American and he also had a good habit of getting me to reevaluate albums that I previously didn’t consider worth listening to including Blur’s Parklife.
On the off chance my long ago ex may be reading this, alright, you were right, Parklife was pretty good.
Next week, we take a trip back into the world of metal with one of my favorite live records.