My music collection exceeds 15,000 songs. Nearly all of these are from CDs that I bought and ripped myself, though there is a chunk of stuff I ripped from other people’s CDs. *shrug* The music industry hates it, but sometimes it happens, and I don’t really care since it doesn’t much hurt the band, their cut being so small in most cases. Anyway, I’ve started taking advantage of Google Music, which allows you to put 20,000 songs “in the cloud” to stream to any computer or mobile device you want. For years I avoided buying MP3 players like the iPod (although I do own a 30GB Zune, but I didn’t buy it – I won it) because I didn’t like having to pre-select my music before going somewhere. I actually like selecting the entire collection (well, almost, I have to remove those radio shows) and hitting random play on the whole thing.
That’s what I was doing when a song off the album Example by For Squirrels started playing. Oddly enough it was the first track of the album, “8:02 PM”. I quickly stopped the player, found the album and played it. Never heard of For Squirrels? I’m not surprised. If you weren’t listening to Alternative radio at the tail end of 1995, like Atlanta’s 99X, you probably didn’t have a chance to hear them. The album, their only major label album, was released on October 3rd 1995, but by then the band was all but finished. On September 8th, a little less than a month earlier, the band was involved in a terrible car accident in their van, taking the lives of two of the band’s four members, and their tour manager. Vocalist Jack Vigliatura and bassist Bill White died, while guitarist Travis Tooke and drummer Jack Griego were both injured but survived. The two remaining members of the band would try to reform with new members, later changing the name of the band and releasing one album before disbanding for good in 2001.
Example is, for me, a very interesting album. I’d call it good, but it isn’t remarkable or full of hit songs. The only single it produced was “Mighty K.C.” which was an elegy for Kurt Cobain. However, none of the songs are awful, and in fact show a promise never realized. Had the accident not happened, a second album could have seen the band grow into something more. Instead, we just have this. A song that went to #15 on the Modern Rock chart, and an album that just barely made the Billboard 200.
In 1996, I should have been graduating college, but a misstep or two and a decision to move out on my own, the combination of which resulted in me having to pay for school on my own (which further resulted in full time work and part time school), I missed being able to get out in four years. It was in these early months of 96 that I purchased Example. I’d heard their single a number of times, and I knew the story behind the band. And as I lay on the bed in my room contemplating my next move in life, the music washed over me.
In the past 15 years, I’ve returned to this album a number of times. Every time I hear one song from it, I have to hear the entire thing, from start to finish, every track. I know in part that is because of when the disc entered my life, that it is a permanent part of the soundtrack of my life, but I hope it’s also because there is something more to these songs that the emotion I’ve attached to them, that a song like the penultimate track “Disenchanted” speaks some universal truth that other people recognize too.
I’d recommend Example by For Squirrels to anyone, to listen through at least once, just to give a chance. It is an album of its time, a mid-90s Alternative Rock band. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if that winds up being your complaint.