Jimmy Eat World: The Middle
You know this song. You must, unless you live under a cone of silence: it was number one with a bullet in 2001, and it hasn't really left the airwaves since, though these days you might be more likely to find it on a classic rock alternative morning show kick-off, a sign that the DJ is getting a little long in the tooth himself.
It's pop. From a number of perfectly valid angles, it's pap, too. But one of the things I love about music is the way it shifts when you do. It's why I specialize in cover songs, back on my own blog - because the flip and switch that shudders through your consciousness when you encounter great coverage is like a door opening in the brain to let the sunshine in.
And in this case, two things recently "flipped" this song for me. First: I finally encountered the acoustic version, after all these years, released in 2008 for a deluxe edition reissue of the original, and found it tense and delicious, pensive where the original radio single is angry. And second, I realized it doesn't have to be about some patronizing emo moonpie trying to cheer up an insecure groupie, as I always assumed. Instead, it's the song I always wanted to get right for my own daughter, on the days she's down and in the fourteen-year-old funk.
Hard to imagine this song is a year older than she is. May she, too, learn to be herself, and just be.