Been rediscovering the Spin Doctors. Yeah, I just said that. In 1994 I was suffering one of the worst summers of my college career; had two jobs and a class that kept my schedule so full I had only 48 hours to myself each week from Friday at midnight until Sunday at midnight. Bedraggled and worked almost to death.
One of the few bright spots during that stretch (thankfully including the companionship of my buddy Tom A. down the hall) was the Spin Doctors’ “Turn It Upside Down“. Looking past the pop-funk radio hits on the early half of the album, the tracks “Bags of Dirt”, “Someday All This Will Be Road” (which I still quote to this day), and “Beasts In the Woods” were there to give me some manner of sanity and a handful of poignant thoughts to keep me going through this time. The pop hits were there to give me some manner of connection with other friends who also got into the album, which I really needed. As I sit at my desk now on a late night burning the lights, I’m drawing parallels to that time (granted, I’m not working right now, but I’m still up late at night trying to maximize my time), and notes of this album waft up through the memories and I have no greater desire than to listen.
I have an odd sort of love for the Spin Doctors; this album, being their second, stuck with me the most. I picked up “Pocket Full of Kryptonite“, their first album, a year later but got less out of it (although more out of its latter half with songs like “Shinbone Alley/Hard to Exist”, among others). “Turn It Upside Down” was the first time I saw a band include a bit in their liner notes suggesting listeners join their email list; upon seeing that, and having an account on the university VAX with an email address, how could I resist? They had a very active list moderated by a mailer at The WELL (a huge online electronic community for 1994), and that really added to the connection I got with the band and their fans. Had an inside line to what they were doing and the internal politics and side projects as well as getting involved in conversations with other fans. Big brave new world, that.
Sometimes I miss that sort of connection, the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. Seems silly to find that feeling among the fanbase of a group of traveling musicians, but there it was. It was new. New — I think that’s it. Newness, strange alien territory, before the marketeers invaded, before the PR firms got in between the musicians and their fans. We were still figuring it out then.
“Biscuit head, double-decker biscuit head.” Silly, but there it is. A shared joke among those who needed to laugh.