Album that changed my life: Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, October 11th, 2018 at 8:58 AM
Album that changed my life: Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing by Ben McCullough

For as long as I can remember, I have listened to bands such as AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and the list goes on. Growing up listening to rock ’n’ roll was empowering. The raw energy of power chords, fast guitar solos and the banging of drums all gave me adrenaline like nothing else. I wanted to be able to create that energy myself.

I have been playing guitar since I was 13, and now at the age of 21, it is more a part of me than anything else. With as much music that I love, and listen to, it would almost be impossible for me to choose my favorite album. On the other hand, the album that changed my life is undoubtedly “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing” by The Wonder Years. I’ll refer to it as “Suburbia” for convenience sake.

I discovered The Wonder Years my sophomore year of high school. I couldn’t tell you exactly how I discovered the band, but I’m sure it was either by exploring pop punk bands online or through one of my few friends that enjoyed the same music. At the time, I was listening to new music and making new friends, some of whom would later become the closest friends in my life. I was all about pop-punk, metalcore and the classics I grew up with. “Suburbia” was The Wonder Years’ most recent release, and it instantly became a classic in my heart. The album captured themes of youth, friendship, heartache, growth and angst; it was a perfect fit for me. The fast, upbeat music fueled me with the same energy as those classic rock bands I loved as a child.

The album is essentially about growing up and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and although I grew up in rural, small-town western Pennsylvania, the themes hit close to home and represented many of my ideals. There were anti-societal pressures in songs such as “My Life as a Pigeon”, anti-religious themes from “I Won’t Say the Lord’s Prayer,”  and songs that assured me that my friends and I were not the only ones with a sour outlook on their hometown. In high school, I felt very little connection, other than a small group of people I would call my best friends. I owe it to punk and rock music for allowing me to share a connection with my peers and to have something to hold in high regard.

Suburbia was our gospel. We yelled the lyrics around campfires: “Suburbia, stop pushing, I know what I’m doing!” We discussed what the words meant to us and how we saw the subject matter of the album in our everyday lives. Although this album did not open up doors to other types of music for me, it opened me up to knowledge, and kept me on the track of being a free thinker. 

My friends and I soon discovered that the album was an ode to the Allen Ginsberg poem, titled “America.” I cried in awe the first time I read the poem; it said exactly what my adolescent mind wanted to hear. It conveyed hard, distressful truths about my country and I knew it was important to listen. This was the first time poetry outside of music meant something to me.

“Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing” is packed full of references to the Ginsberg poem. The album shares the truths spoken of in Ginsberg’s poem, but on a much more personal level. After reading the poem, I held songwriter Dan Campbell’s lyrical abilities in even higher regard, and my love for his words grew stronger. I believe music is one of the best outlets to promote a specific type of culture, and “Suburbia” strengthened my ability to stay true to myself and the ones I love.

Ben McCullough can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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