My first "favorite band" was Gin Blossoms. Their breakout record New Miserable Experience was released 30 years ago, at which point I listened to it so many times the cassette got all wobbly. Bonus points if you have any idea what that means.
They were one of the first bands I listened to as a literal child that was actively releasing full albums that seemed worth a listen. It wasn't just one song on the radio, one hit, like my purchase of "Breakfast At Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something or even Soul Asylum's "Misery". I listened to all 12 songs repeatedly, pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed many of them just as much as the obvious "Hey Jealousy". Seriously, go listen to "Pieces of the Night", it's lovely.
Gin Blossoms filled that weird space between Pop acts and Alternative Rock at that point, a jangly assemblage of love songs that channeled your best guy-friend in a hooded flannel. Compared to their tougher radio contemporaries like Bush or Stone Temple Pilots, Gin Blossoms were someone I had met before. Someone I was more likely to grow up to be. Someone I could relate to because they were singing "yes, I know I'm a mess and fucked up our relationship but can we still hang out sometimes, please?" It got stuck in my heart more than Bush's "Everything Zen" ever could or would.
Considering we just passed Valentine's Day, the way Gin Blossoms songs present love is one that resonated with me before I was old enough to understand why. Some of the best love songs are the bittersweet ones, where you have all of the love but just enough sadness along with it. "Follow You Down" serves up some true longing while asking to not be dragged into too much darkness. "Hey Jealousy" paints a hopeful picture for a relationship that is supposedly already over. It's all messy and dark and sad and in the early 90s, those songs were everywhere.
I was finally able to see them play live a few years ago at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware - a stage I would play just a few months later, savoring the view I never thought I'd have when I first listened to their music on the floor of my childhood bedroom. It may not have been a show in 1994, but let me tell you, a room full of 30-somethings who got a babysitter for the first time in months is an emphatic party and great company.
While I'm in this weird zone of "wow, I never thought I'd play with this band, yet here I am", can I play a show with Gin Blossoms? Can I manifest that, please?
If you're looking for more Gin Blossoms appreciation, may I suggest this recent piece by Niko Stratis.
Happy belated Valentine's Day, everyone. May you kiss all your friends and pet all the dogs!