I find something very upsetting about the breakup of Mommy and Daddy. And I realize how bizarre that sentence pans out, but it’s true. I find the breakup of Mommy and Daddy a little more upsetting than the breakup of my actual mother and father. The day they told us they were ‘separating’, I cried out of relief and my brothers laughed uncontrollably. They were very somber and serious. I stared at the 70’s brown shag carpet until the tears welled up. I didn’t even know what it meant really, but I was so glad that it was over.
“…” I’m not going to attempt to figure out what she’s saying. Really. I have tried. But it doesn’t matter. The groove is so hard and satisfying. And the timbre of her voice makes it all right. There’s a metaphor there even without the actual words.
It’s like a fantasy. They were living our fucked up Generation X romantic fantasy. We grew up listening to all of these songs about running for the hills with the love of your life. Born to Run by Springstein or I Melt With You by Modern English. The scene at the end of the Graduate on the back of the bus. It’s our fucked up rock and roll escapist fantasy. The heroic couple stands up to authority and runs away. Presumably they continue flipping everyone off and being passionately in love forever. Every day is a rock and roll montage of good rebel love and matching tattoos. The world never comes to trouble their doorstep even when they have kids.
Really I don’t want it to come off sounding too snarky. I am actually being sincere. I am a sucker for a love story. But one day after my 5th or 6th major breakup in my 20’s, I stopped and asked myself a question. What relationship am I trying to emulate? Which relationship, family or friends or famous couple or acquaintance or royalty, is the example that I am striving for? What does a ‘happily ever after’ look like? How does a realistic love story end? I couldn’t think of an answer to this question. I really spent a lot of time thinking about this. I went through lists of people that I knew. Aunts and uncles. Teachers. Friends the same age as me that looked like they were together for a while. Which example of the perfect relationship were they trying to emulate? My conclusion was that not only did I not have an example but most people didn’t.
So I thought about songs like Born to Run and I Melt With You. And then the question got kind of philosophical. Because when you are 14 and you are first confronted by these concepts, you might have a close friend that you can talk to about how it makes you feel. All of the longing and angst that a 14 year old can express. But quickly enough everyone figures out that it’s just a song no matter how beautiful, and if you enjoy the feeling these songs conjure and know what’s good for you, you will keep those feelings to yourself.
While I might admit to really liking a song like this, I hate to admit that it’s still a role I can picture myself in. Like a rock and roll romance novel. The rock and roll rebel, screw the world and run away romance song. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but I doubt it. And while the examples I give are really obvious. I think there are way more songs that fit into this category. It’s like trying to be cool. It’s a concept that better be really amazingly right on to go for directly like Born to Run or I Melt With You. Other more subtle examples are songs like Going to California by Led Zeppelin or Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode. But these are songs. Beautiful adaptations of all of the emotional connections we long for.
And then Mommy and Daddy started making this really incredibly original music as a couple. Not just a couple but the only two people in their band. They were living out one of these rock and roll romances. Their songs aren’t about this kind of thing, but it’s easy to see that energy in their relationship. It’s aggressive and kind at the same time. A private affection that we can understand without invasive voyeurism. We are all lost in the fog of romantic disillusionment and found in the romantic discontent of Mommy and Daddy. They didn’t offer themselves up as examples of the rock and roll romantic fantasy, but there they were. And I can’t help but take it personally that they broke up. And I do realize that’s too much to put on them. I am a big believer in break ups or divorce when that is the best option. Or whatever the hell they did, because they didn’t announce it. They just stopped making music.
And that’s the part where I feel sad. Because I really believe that no one but the two of them can make music with this particular energy. I am lonely thinking that they won’t be making any more of it. There’s not going to be a reunion tour or album. We got a couple of really good CD’s worth of songs out of them that end up coming at the tale end of Electro Clash. They are significant as a step in the evolution of punk from insignificant history to relevant post-modernism.
They are even somewhat controversial in their seeming simplicity and lyrical senselessness. Not that I find this controversy significant. Metaphor and poetic license are better served by the ephemeral nature of impulsive magic than the well constructed allegory. If you wanted allegory go listen to some Wagner. The energy of wild untamed love is here with Mommy and Daddy.
“And I want to take you home.”
And some realities of home are better than others. My reality is pretty damn good. Significantly better than my parents. But maybe it’s time to go get some matching tattoos.