From the time I had my driver’s license, or freedom – as it stands for most teenagers – I recall cruising around in my old Ford Explorer (which lived up to the snarky nicknames of Ford “Exploder” and “Found On Road Dead” shortly thereafter) with a couple childhood friends. Our goal? Trying to find shit to do in the ‘burbs.
Between the fact that I did grow up about 30 minutes from the Big City of Seattle, and the fact that I wasn’t “cool” (unless being a band geek is considered cool nowadays,) we never really found much to do. I was more interested in reading, and being a rap nerd with the help of Napster…which foreshadowed my current life, for sure.
Despite that, we still always set out with the goal of finding something, anything. Our soundtrack? Sublime’s Sublime. Unfortunately, I recall most of our nights ending with sitting in the parking lot of Jack N The Box off the Mukilteo Speedway. Embarrassing, but at least I can make fun of myself for it ten years later.
Out here in the Pac Northwest, the rumors are true: we don’t get that much sun or that long of a summer, but when we do, there’s no place more spectacular. Finding no trouble to get into during the day, then, while enjoying the sun, seems practically irrelevant as I reflect on my high school summers.
In fact, I don’t remember how I got hooked on Sublime, but their 1996 album is summer to me. To keep it #3hunna, I’m not even sure I knew if Nowell had passed away as I vibed to Sublime all these years. That sounds like a very 16-year-old-Julie J thing to not have known, considering I can be very aloof, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had no idea about his untimely demise before the album was released.
Graduating from high school and moving on to college saw me traveling south down the I-5 corridor a bit, but staying in the Pac NW. College was, of course, fun, scary and a bevy of other adjectives. Portland, Oregon has slightly more extreme weather than its (cooler, in multiple senses of the word) neighbor to the north. So that meant a few more sunny days to enjoy Sublime.
Just like my high school homies, my college friends spent many a lazy days laid out in front of our dorms in the grassy quad, blasting Sublime and drinking Slurpees. Sublime always sounds better with the addition of Slurpees.* “What I Got” is one of Sublime’s most well-known and well-loved records, and to be cliche, one of my favorites. Brad Nowell, Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh, or Sublime, harken to a simpler time in life, a reminder to appreciate what you have at the moment. Life is short, money is just money.
Along those lines of being simple, we thought we were geniuses to add some cheap vodka into our Slurpees. Again, the aloofness thing. We reasoned, What could be better than a slushy, alcoholic beverage? Well, it turns out, that idea sounds just fine on paper, but when you add vodka into a Slurpee, it really doesn’t taste good. It’s just way too watery, and actually quite horrible.
Besides the aforementioned song, “Summertime (Doin Time)” was another favorite from that record. In all honesty, I’m not exactly sure why I like it, other than the chorus being about the carefree feeling of summertime. It’s not partcularly happy or even has carefree as some of the other songs, but that hook always stuck with me. I fondly recall using it as a quote on whatever social media website was hot at the time, whether it was MySpace, Facebook, Livejournal, Xanga, or AOL Instant Messenger. If anything, it’s more applicable to my life now that ever, but that’s neither here nor there.
My two homegirls from high school have since gone on with their lives – one to med school and the other emerging from a heroin addiction unlike Brad Nowell. One of my fellow Sublime-loving college friends unfortunately died in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake, but the other one responded with “omg slurpees!” when I text her about revisiting Sublime’s summertime classic.
Listening to Sublime some 10 years later brings back the memories and the true feelings of it epitomizing all that is good about these lazy, hot months. As it goes on “Summertime (Doin Time),”“Summertime and the livin’s easy…” Memories will be made and reminisced on, life will be lived, and Sublime’s music will live on in immortality.
* — I don’t have any scientific studies to support this, but c’mon, #factsonly bruh.