Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes

Song: “Promise

I remember so vividly the first time I ever heard this album.

I was in Mississippi, and I can’t remember any of the faces of the people I was with, but I know we were standing in the bathroom, curling our bangs, teasing them out and spraying them into a Wall of Awesome, when someone’s older sister started playing this album.

They knew every word and shouted the lyrics with all the anger and abandon necessary to emulate Gordan Gano correctly. These girls were older, screaming “Add it up! Add it up!” and looking so incredibly cool. One of them was popping her hip as she executed a perfect streak of black liquid eyeliner. I remember standing next to the toilet, watching, thinking, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” I must have been eleven. Twelve?

And then there were boys. Older boys, friends of the older sisters. And they were done with the Violent Femmes and they replaced the record with something they said was going to “rock.

“The opening notes of “Purple Haze” filled the room as the boys played air guitar and really, truly, my mind was blown.

I hadn’t heard rock music like this, and I hadn’t heard angsty-wailing like the Femmes, and everybody was in such cool acid-washed denim with their hair everywhere and nobody seemed to have parents and I knew I was completely invisible in that room.

I know I’m probably the only person who was there that day who still thinks of that moment. It happens whenever I hear the Femmes, now that I’m the one who knows all the words. I sing them at the top of my lungs and the music reminds me that life’s moments, good and bad, are fleeting, so try to hold onto the stuff that matters and don’t be afraid to rock out.