I fell in love with a band. They were sweat soaked rock and roll and after I saw them, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to any music that wasn’t theirs.

It’d been a week since I’d been home, going straight from vacation to Barnstormer, to sleep in guest houses and beach front cottages and on the floor of the living room of both my best friend and favorite local musician. I’m awake and alive and I’m drinking and smiling and wandering in fields and sitting on couches and kissing a new boy and it’s all electricity and suddenly, I live a life that isn’t mine – Cut off from my closest friends one day, making new best pals the next – and it’s a dream in which I play the part of the girl I used to be, before this sadness overtook my life and I realize – I’m not playing the part. I’m her again.

I’m finally at home after days of suitcase living turned into a week and my bathroom is in disarray. I have unpacking to do and a bedroom to rearrange. Get at it. And I do.

Since I’ve moved in, I’ve used my computer exclusively for music and let my record player, a hand me down from my dad, languish. Today, however, I needed it. I opened the cd tray to put in Strike Hard, Young Diamond, a burned copy from my best friend as I was too busy drinking and flirting away my Barnstormer to actually exchange goods for money. To my surprise, there’s already a disc in the faux-fifties all-purpose media player’s black plastic hull. I realize immediately what it is: The last cd my dad listened to in this record player. It was his, after all. It lived in his “man cave” and he used it fairly often. The day he helped me move in to my house in Ann Arbor, he brought it to me. He died a little over a month later. I regard the silver cd-r with wonder and nostalgia, a smile creeping across my face: This cd is the last gift I will ever get from my dad. I lift it up and look at the writing. In multicolored sharpie are words I’d scrolled on its surface some eight years prior and I remember. It’s a mix of Christmas songs I made for my dad when I was nineteen. We listened to it driving to the suburbs in the snow on the 25th, going to visit my grandma in the nursing home.

He’d always given me shit, the way dads are prone to do. My taste in music was never up to spec for him (I recant this to my best friend and she laughs. “Your taste in music is bad? Yours? Having good taste is what you do!” and it’s true.) but this testament, this one last tangible piece of my dead father, is proof that… My dad recognized my good taste in indie rock. And that approval was all I ever wanted from him.

Title Track.

02/06/2011

So, take this thin broken down circus clown reject and give her the name of a queen. Don’t I know her from the mezzanine? She didn’t look like no princess to me but with the proper words bestowed; And with her morning shoot and her evening clothes. Don’t call her a prostitute –  She ain’t one of those just call her a proper little statue come unfroze.

Indie rock crushes have ruined me. It’s something I’ve thought for years, a realization I came to after I interviewed Tim Kasher from Cursive, a band I’d idolized since my early teenage years. It was an interview I’d expected to go horribly, an interview I expected to ruin one of the icons of my youth. I expected Kasher to drunkenly slur his answers at me, to tell me I was a good interviewer, but I’d be better if I took my top off, and to throw an empty beer bottle at me if I didn’t comply. Instead, the man I was confronted with was nothing short of a sweetheart. He was kind, he was gracious, and he even interrupted me at one point to compliment my shoes. And with that, I was smitten.

It made me wonder, afterward, how my fifteen year old self’s crush on Kasher had impacted my romantic choices. Had I inadvertently sought out men who projected the same persona in their personal lives that Kasher did in his professional life? The drunken Lothario unable to maintain monogamy? The more I examined my past, the more it seemed as if that were the case. In more recent years, my ridiculous desire to find a man just like Justin Townes Earle has gotten me mixed up in some real life nonsense but the older that I get, the more I do that whole strange “growing up” thing that I think I’m in the midst of at twenty six, the more I realize that is not what I want. And even if it is what I want, it probably isn’t what’s best. So, in true Amber fashion, I’ve defaulted to attempting to find a fella swathed in shades of another indie rock hero of mine, Josh Ritter.

The Temptation of Adam – Josh Ritter

Let’s face it, no one knows how to create a romance like Ritter does. He writes songs about mummies who fall in love with the archaeologist who unearths him, songs about nuclear scientists developing feelings for one another  whilst engineering a bomb to bring about the end of the world, and his songs are peppered with lyrics like “All the other girls here are stars, you are the northern lights.” Ritter is the kind of gentleman about whom you’d say “They don’t make guys like him in real life”, only he is real life, so where does that leave me?

It sets the bar high, listening to Ritter’s songs and wondering if anyone will ever write anything like that about me, or even think that about me. I used to think indie rock crushes had ruined me because they’d caused me to go after the kind of rough and tumble guys that got in bar room brawls and had hand guns. Now, I realize my indie rock crushes have probably ruined me in a different way. The tricky part is that I know guys like Ritter exist. I know this because I’ve met them. I just haven’t met the right one.