Sword In The Stone - 5 years old
A young King Arthur is turned into a squirrel. He is pursued by a female squirrel. She grows attached to him, he is uncertain, he is turned back into a human. Female squirrel gives me my first indication of heartbreak. I feel sad for her.
Cocktail starring Tom Cruise - 6 years old
We move to town for a few years and during that period we inherit the Holy Grail…aka, the Super Channel. We have a TV downstairs and I have 3 blank VHS tapes. I can’t tape over Prancer cause mom loves those piece of shit, made-for-TV, Christmas movies. So that really leaves me with 2 tapes. I record Cocktail and can’t bring myself to tape over it for almost a year. I watch it once a week. I learn everything I know about women from Tom Cruise. I later learn that Tom Cruise probably isn’t the best role model for a 6 year old.
Edward Scissorhands - 7 years old
I’m sleeping over at Grandma’s. Uncle Ken rents this on VHS. Grandma gives me a glass of beer so I can be like Uncle Ken. I have one sip and hate it. She lets me keep the full glass near me anyhow. The movie scares me, then makes me laugh, then makes me angry, and finally sad. I never stop thinking about it.
Brick by Ben Fold Five - 9 years old
I hear this song on the easy-listening FM station. They play it a lot. I hear it while I’m waiting in the truck while my dad is shutting off the tractor. I hear all the words and know that I’m too young to make sense of it all. Years later I realize it’s about an abortion and I cry and cry.
Pearl Jam’s Evolution - 11 years old
We get a satellite dish back on the farm and the first thing I see is the music video for Pearl Jam’s scorcher, Evolution. Todd Mcfarlane animates it and it is absolutely gut wrenching. The guy that gets attacked by the computer makes me still hate computers. Burn them all!
Of Mice and Men - 12 years old
Mom lets me read whatever I want. I want Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. She says I won’t like them and I can only choose two. Lord of the Flies gets put off and has never been purchased or read to this day. Some sexual things in the novel go over my head but the maternal friendship makes it clear that it’s a rough and tumble world out there.
Different Seasons (specifically Shawshank Redemption) - 13 years old
I borrow Different Seasons from my friend Drew. Mom says I won’t like it. I realize she and I have very different taste in art. I read Shawshank Redemption. The ending is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. I can still quote it. I have full faith in everything when he says, “the Pacific is as blue as it was in my dreams.” Love it so much that I dig into Apt Pupil and Stand By Me. I discover all these movies because of this book. I never read the other story. I can’t even remember what it is. Was it Green Mile? Shit, if it was then I missed out.
Final Fantasy 8 - 14 years old
Everyone talks about Final Fantasy 7. I lie and say that I played it but never have the opportunity. My cousin has part 8 and I play it in instalments while visiting. The love story moves me. I want to be in love.
Mrs. Potters Lullaby by Counting Crows - 15 years old
“Step out the front door like a ghost, nobody notices the contrast of white on white.”
“If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts.”
“If you’ve never stared off into the distance then your life is a shame.”
They play this song a lot on the easy-listening FM station. I can read between the lines and hear all the pain and loneliness in Adam Duritz voice. I don’t know that he’s talking about depression exactly, but I know that one day I’m going to understand what he’s talking about more than I ever care to admit.
I would rather not hear the Counting Crows this way. I would rather just passively enjoy Mr. Jones like everybody else.
Darryl’s Grocery Bag/ All Age concert - 15 years old
I hear the Olds Alberta based, pop-punk band, Darryl’s Grocery Bag for the first time at an All-Age show in Lethbridge. That’s it, it’s all over for me that night. I know I’m going to play in a band one day and probably forever. “I’d rather be broke, and live on a stage, I’d rather pump gas for minimum wage, I’d rather be here than somewhere you are, do you like my van, cause I hate your car.”
Left and Leaving by the Weakerthans - 16 years old
Abby sends me this song over MSN messenger. I’m not even aware that you can send shit over MSN messenger. I instantly realize that he can’t really sing, but it’s perfect anyway. All my favourite singers can’t really sing, and it’s probably all because of this. He is a truly great writer.
The Rocky Fortune - 18 years old
Darryl’s Grocery Bag grow up and become a Folk Rock band. Don’t we all.
Bukowski - 18 years old
I hear about Bukowski in high school but mostly ignore his work. I get dumped by my first real girlfriend and Bukowski pours me a stiff drink and pats me on the back.
Modest Mouse - 19 years old
When my mother hears Modest Mouse she tells me that there is some underlying sense of evil. Tyler and I get so obsessed that we actually believe that Isaac Brock is sending us subliminal messages through the songs.
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac - 20 years old
On the Road has nothing on Dharma Bums. Plus, I’m living dangerously close to On the Road when I’m reading it. It hits too close to home. Dharma Bums ages a little better and is a little more deeply rooted in spirituality. It’s where I’m going, not where I’ve been.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - 24 years old
I have a nervous breakdown on a beach in Belize while reading this. It challenges my entire value system and makes me question my motives. It shakes me to the core. It’s a quality book about quality.
The City Streets - 25 years old
My friend Sam makes me listen to the City Streets. They are the best band to come out of Edmonton and maybe the best rock band in Canada. They are like the Constantines if the Constantines had narrative lyrics. I can’t figure out why people don’t love them like I do. I realize that art is not fair. Actually, art is always fair. I realize that the Canadian music industry favours the safe and the shitty. People will talk about them like they do the Replacements one day. As a legacy act.