Descendents: Anchor Grill
Punk rock is not supposed to be about subtlety or maturity. It is not supposed to be about grownups and their problems. It is supposed to be about youth, and anger, and simplicity. But it isn’t always that easy.
Descendents started off as a more traditional punk (or pop punk) band--fast, loud and with songs that focused on simple themes, often with goofy humor, although their music was somewhat more melodic than many other “hardcore” bands of the era. But the band evolved over the years, often taking long breaks while lead singer Milo Aukerman went to college, obtained his Ph.D in biochemistry and worked as a biochemist for DuPont. Not exactly the typical resume for a punk rocker (other than maybe Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin, who has a Ph.D. in zoology).
By 2004, after bands like Green Day had made it acceptable for bands to mix uptempo music with more mature themes, the band released “Cool To Be You.” Their music hadn’t mellowed all that much, but they tackled issues that reflected the lives that the band members were experiencing 25 years after they started—having kids, growing up, losing parents.
“Anchor Grill” is a song written by drummer Bill Stevenson (who also played at times with Black Flag, making this the second post I have written related to that band in an attempt to balance the whole “Supper’s Ready” thing) and sung by Aukerman. It is a wistful song, despite the fast tempo, sung by a man to his wife about how complicated it is to be married with children. He sings:
Who knew the way things work in this world we've made for ourselves?
Where I work myself to death, and you raise the kids
He longs to return to the early days of their relationship, when things were easy and uncomplicated, wishing that they could pretend
that I just fell in love with you
At the Anchor Grill
He suggests dropping their kids off at her parents, and going out “where it’s never too late for breakfast.”
As a father of older kids (one about to graduate from college and one about to finish first year), I can still remember back to the early days of my relationship with my wife, and how things seemed so easy. But then came the responsibility of trying to raise children, the hardest and best thing that I believe I have ever tried. And as much as I love my kids, and really have enjoyed almost every minute of raising them, I can’t deny that there are times that I, too, look back wistfully to when life was simpler, and my responsibilities were fewer. On the other hand, I never would have heard of Descendents if my son hadn’t introduced them to me, only one small way that my kids have enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams (and I’m not only saying this because I know they will read this.)