This topic is one of mine, actually. This one came to me because I had a song stuck in my head for roughly two weeks, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, peg it. It wasn’t until I heard it again while at the gym that I was able to take note of some of the lyrics and look it up online. (Thank goodness for the Internet!) The song was by Adult Diversion by Alvvays. Listen to it below!
This reminded me of an episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Pete & Pete is a standout show in terms of the 90s Nickelodeon block. It was awesome. It was weird. It had Iggy Pop as a dad next door. There was little more you could ask for out of kid-oriented show. It is, above all that, the ultimate encapsulation of pre-adult life in suburbia. I can gush on and on about it, but I’ll try to keep my gushing focused to the topic.
Hard Day’s Pete, the finale of season one, focuses on Little Pete’s adventure (eh, eh) to rediscover his favorite song. The episode starts out with Little Pete in his garage broadcasting from his homemade pirate radio show. From the voice over from his older brother we learn that Little Pete isn’t too fond of music. He doesn’t really get why people keep calling in to request their favorite songs. It’s not until fate nudges him down a shortcut to not be late to school does he discover what all the hub-ub is about. Serendipitously, a grungy band is having a jam session (in the morning for some reason because Pete is going to school) in a garage. Little Pete hears the song and has to stop to listen. He is struck by the rock gods of rock. The song attaches itself to Little Pete. Now he get’s it. Little Pete has a favorite song.
One problem quickly arises. It was just a happenstance that he heard the song. When he goes searching he can’t find the song anywhere. The band disapperated. The house is unoccupied. No CD or album has the song. No radio station is playing it. For all intents and purposes the song never existed. The one place it does still live, though, is inside Little Pete. So, like any reasonable person would do, he makes it his mission to reproduce the song, his song. He had is parents buy him a guitar and he starts a-strummin’.
He plucks and picks day and night and just as he is about to give up, BAM, he nails the riff. He forms a band, comprised of a ten year old with mutton chops on drums, his math teach on bass, and the meter reader on rhythm guitar, and of course, old “Thunderball” Pete on lead, like you do; a motley crew if there ever were one. They play that riff for two days without any progress.
You know what playing for two days straight does; it drives up the electric bill. Pete’s dad can’t afford that! Geeze! He let’s his son know that if he can’t raise $700 then he is going to have to pull the plug, quite literally. Just as hope is receding into the night, big bro Pete comes to the rescue. If he can play Marmalade Cream, he will toss him $5. Then the phone keeps ringing off the hook with requests. Impromptu telethon! A quick montage later and they are at $700, but Pete is no closer to remembering his favorite song. He can’t take it and walks off with his guitar and amp in hand. He heads off to the garage where he heard the elusive tune. His band comes in tow minutes later and gives him the encouragement he so sorely needs. He gives it one final go and stands in the spot where he first heard the song. Magically, it starts to come back. In come the flashbacks to the band playing. He’s got it! He remembered! And with that he and his band recreate the lost song, never to be lost again. That song, by the by, is Summerbaby by Polaris, who made the soundtrack for the show. Listen below!
It sounds incredibly cheesy, and that’s because it’s incredibly cheesy. That’s not really a knock against it, just calling a duck a duck. I think the reason this episode was so memorable is because it is so relatable, maybe not one-to-one, but in terms of nostalgia. I think most of us get waves of nostalgia at times. Sometimes that can be painful, but other times it can be great. A song comes on (LIKE IN THE EPISODE!), a smell wafts in, and suddenly you are right back there. It reminds us of who we were, for better or for worse, and this can be fantastic, as long as we are not living there. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug, and, like any drug, has a proper dosage.
This is going to be a break in the flow of this because I can’t seem to make any progress. I’ve erased and re-written this paragraph about five times. It feels like I’m trying to make a point, but I never really intended to with this post. I have a strong pull toward nostalgia, and music is a pretty powerful conductor of it for me. I have gone on crazy quests, like Pete, to try to recapture some of the past. One need not look much farther than my previous video game collection. Which I recently sold, because time stops for no man! Also, cash is decent for moving. The rambling takeaway is that the episode resonates for me, and I love Pete & Pete.
I need to end this because I will inevitably write another six paragraphs about pseudo-psychological theories about nostalgia and no one wants that.