Thursday, February 25, 2010

Proving the Impossible

It feels like a lifetime where I'm sitting down listening to a cassette tape a friend made for me with different types of music. We called these samplers, not to be mistaken for the mixed tape which proposed feelings. None of these songs went with each other, there was no underlying message other than, "Hey, buddy, check these bands out."

Out comes a strange combination of sounds, with a dull-voiced singering singing:

Life is white
And I am black
Jesus and his lawyer
Are coming back

As cliche as it sounds, "Novacaine for the Soul" was my introduction to the music of Eels. And since that time, I've been making an attempt to collect every song they ever recorded, every movie they were ever featured in and wrapped myself completely inside the Eels world blanket.

The fact that I grew up in a house that only played hair metal, hip hop, gansta rap, boy band and "modern" country, this sound was something completely insane. It sounded the way I thought sometimes. Most of my friends were revelling in bands like Nirvana, Korn, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein, I was busy enjoying the crude sounds of Beautiful Freak, a recorded cassette tape I managed to swindle off a friend. 

Living life in a small town in the butt of Texas, I couldn't go to any record store anywhere in the location and pick up an actual copy. This was before BMG or Columbia House started sending me their mail in vouchers. Sadly, in my high school world, the sole album that Eels ever made was Beautiful Freak, which was damaged in my backpack on frightful day. 

Years passed and a Best Buy opened. Without thinking, I walked around looking up CDs I could buy. Among my search Beautiful Freak, Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies of the Galaxy were all there, reinviting me into the world of Eels music. Sadly, I didn't buy them that day. But I never forgot the power of their music, never forgot their sound. So when I heard the other albums that followed, I wasn't at all appalled or surprised the way they allowed themselves to morph into something new, rather than attempting the same thing countless of times. 

Then one day, I was in college and thought I should buy something that would make my life a little easier. Returning to Best Buy, I selected Blinking Lights and Other Revelations because it was two CDs long. I put it in my CD player the next day and walked to school listening to the first CD and then, on my walk home, the second. I was lifted and taken to another world, again. 

The song that hit the closet to home was "Things the Grandchildren Should Know." Three years later, I learned from Amazon that Mark Everett Oliver, the singer and man behind Eels, had released a memoir by the same title. 

I read other autobiographies in the past - Marilyn Manson's The Long Hard Road Out of Hell - also named after a song he'd recorded - comes to mind - so I wanted to read this one badly. Just sad to say that it took this book hunter two years before he could find it cheap on

Reading the words of Mark Everett comforts me. He removes the flowery, poetry shit that a lot of people feel they need to pad the books about their lives with. Blunt, like his music, you can take it or leave it. And while the man has no children, let alone grandchildren, the book allows anyone who wants to know him easy access into his mind. It's one of the greatest memoirs I've ever read, and the best book I've read this year - which is still young, by the way. 

Like his music, Everett's book has its own tone. It allows you to relate to a man you'd think wouldn't have anything in common with the rest of us. 

And if there's some slim chance that he should read this - which is extremely slim, I would believe - and despite how corny it sounds, but I really want to thank Mark Everett for his music. I'd be lost in this world if it wasn't for Eels or his earlier stuff.

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