It was April of 2006 and we were on a road trip to Maryland for my cousin's wedding followed by a charter bus tour of Washington, D.C. the day after. We loaded the back of the Aztek with a weekends worth of luggage and set off with my husband behind the wheel, my brother in the passenger seat, and my 17-year-old nephew and I relaxing in the back. This was our first long trip since purchasing an iPod, and let me tell you, more preparation went into downloading music and creating play lists for the little mechanism than packing our suitcases. We had 3 iPods on board; my little blue mini loaded with what I like to refer to as my "chick" music, my husband's 30 GB that had been recently filled with play lists catering to the special requests from my nephew, and we had my brother's 60 GB iPod that seemed to me to contain every piece of music written since the beginning of mankind. We literally had weeks worth of music at our fingertips for the 6 hour drive to Silver Spring.
Unfortunately I can't remember much of the music played on the drive south. I barely touched the mini that was stored safely in the messenger bag at my feet. I mostly remember filling the nouns in a book of Mad Libs with various parts of the human anatomy and using an array of creative, raunchy words for adjectives, all in good potty humor. I also remember feeling miserable about being on this trip at all as the night before our then 6-month-old puppy, Jack, ran away from the dog sitter in an effort to make it back home to us. Rather than sleeping and preparing for the long trip, we spent the night scouring the neighborhood and calling out to him, often sneaking up on an animal in the pitch-blackness only to run away screaming when we found that it was not our dog, but a skunk. It was eventually discovered that he had been taken in by a nice couple two doors down who found him cowering on their back porch at midnight, and were so kindly trying to get a hold of us, but we didn't receive the news until a few hours after we arrived in Maryland.
I had a great time in Maryland. The trip included some of the most entertaining outcomes in my history with Mad Libs, my first time to a Dave & Buster's where I blew all of my money on the Flaming Finger machine, and some of the most delicious fajitas at a Plata Grande Restaurant. The trip also gave me the most time I've spent with my brother since we both moved out on our own, and with him came his eclectic music tastes. I remember most clearly on the dark drive home through the mountains. It was late and none of us could sleep and so my brother was entertaining us with a few out-of-leftfield songs from his vast selection. I remember a song about fingers the most, which he said was The Decemberists:
“Find him, bind him, tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters.”
I heard the lyrics and I heard the childish, sing-song way they were sung and I immediately wrote the The Decemberists off as a band I wouldn't be listening to anytime soon.
One year, four months, and another road trip later I'm finding that I made a grave mistake, just like those two years I told my husband I absolutely would not eat Chipotle because I didn't want steak or chicken, but ground beef. It sounds strange, but The Decemberists are my new Chipotle, this miraculous entity that I refused to acknowledge for so long, but eventually broke and found I had been missing out on something wonderful the entire time. I am absolutely smitten. Now I listen to "The Mariner's Revenge Song" and see beyond strange lyrics about crushing fingers and being eaten by a giant whale to appreciate their awe-inspiring storytelling. I spend my days wandering around humming to songs like "The Engine Driver" and "We Both Go Down Together," itching for the next chance to get in the car and start up my iPod, which now holds every song from 2001-2006, or to go home and press play while I work in the office on minuscule tasks I've created just to stay in there and listen to my new obsession. I'm ashamed it took me this long to give them a chance, and I'm a little ashamed of my uncontrollable, crazed behavior, but like I said, it's uncontrollable and I'm infatuated.
I will never again doubt my brother's taste in music.