For some reason all through high school I tried to grow my hair. I was emo, I had the Blink-182 wardrobe, the cd’s a guitar and the aesthetic, however, I didn’t have the hair. I tried a few times, but I’d always get tired of trying to style my work in progress and break out in really bad acne, and acne was surely not emo. I needed the hair, I needed it to emphasize my rocking out, and my overall hopeless state of perpetual and unexplainable sadness. This was a strange time in all our lives.

I was looking through my cd’s the other night and I came across a few of the first cd’s I ever bought. They consisted of various Saves the Day, Blink-182, and Ataris records. It was emo, in fact if I remember correctly the record store where I bought them specifically had them in their “emo” section with a sad face and a tear within the “o.”

The year was 2002 and that was the year emo consumed everything and everyone I knew. The scene had been steadily growing thanks to such emo-pioneers like Blink-182 and New Found Glory(some of you may argue this was pop-punk, but you’re wrong.) who opened the door for every band that came into our cd players for the next 3 years. Before the rave thing got big(again, because I am old enough to remember it’s first incarnation.) and before incoherent noise driven indie bands took over your cd collections and wardrobes there was emo, which basically paved the way for indie, it was(unfortunately) the only logical step to take after emo cried it’s last tears. For me it was always something else entirely. I was shy, awkward and eager to find deeper meaning in my high school life. So, basically I was everyone else who embraced this “emo” thing because they felt alienated. Sure, some of us went uber-emo and what everyone else considered borderline gay by adopting Dashboard Confessional, but at it’s core that guys music was oddly the most accurate description of my high school days. I don’t know anyone who lived those days who didn’t at least like one song.

To understand what it felt like you have to understand the following 2 statements:

1.) It’s difficult to explain this scene to say, perhaps, a metal head, believe me I’ve tried. They don’t get it, anyone may feel the same way we felt towards their respective scene, but from the emo perspective it’s hard to imagine how a metal band singing about decapitating heads and burning demons registers on any personal emotion based level.

2.) We are all products of a form of music that consist of one heartbroken person singing their lives away about another person who obviously doesn’t care they exist. No matter what your musical leanings, your favorite song in theory, is probably about somebody else.

These days I can pop in any Ataris or Saves the Day record now and instantly be taken back to the countless nights spent locked in my room with nothing but the sound of those songs to help me make sense of my overly self-complicated life. I remember I had one for everything and everyone that mattered. Anything that happened to me between Winter of ’01 and summer of ’03 could be easily chronicled by Kris Roe and Chris Conley. In fact those two individuals are the only people who’d probably ever understand me. Well, them and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, but who doesn’t relate to them?

For a long time I thought I was the only one who had reached such an emotive response to music, particularly this odd blend of soft rock. I thought it was my secret, as if I knew the hidden message. Although it’s musical blasphemy to compare Nirvana to any band that came after them the truth is emo was our Grunge. Everyone likes Nirvana, with the exception of the few people who don’t like Nirvana simply because everybody else does. Everybody liked emo, even people who listened to rap liked emo. At the end of the day they didn’t want to hear a rhyme about slappin’ bitches and gettin’ paid, they wanted to hear about the cheatin’ ho that did ‘em dirty and how she ain’t nuthin’ but a bitch. Emo just took what everyone already liked about music and applied it to everything. I didn’t realize it then, but I never really needed to grow my hair at all.