A list of 10 thoughts/memories about the Strokes, and Is This It.
1. This is the first “classic” album made by someone relatively near my own age—I was 15 when this came out, and the Strokes were around 22 or 23—and that felt significant for some reason. They were the kind of guys I’d see smoking on the college campus when we drove to school, and it felt like an incredible thing that someone who was young could make an album that feels like it is THE ONLY PIECE OF MUSIC you will ever need.
2. This is one of the last albums/bands that i discovered through “older” channels: I have a distinct memory of seeing the music video for “Last Nite” on MTV 2 right before the album came out, and being like, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?” and being totally blown away. Then I read the review in Rolling Stone, which was impossibly glowing. And I’ll always remember the end of the first paragraph:
“Less than a year ago, the Strokes were handing out gig fliers to uninterested fans at Weezer shows; now, they are the subject of British magazine covers, schoolgirl crushes (assuming you know the right schoolgirls) and, already, disgruntled in-crowd jealousy.”
All I knew is that I needed to meet schoolgirls who listened to this kind of music.
3. I didn’t get this album until Christmas, however, because at 15, I could never put $15 together at one time to buy this. Shouts out to my mom for buying this for me. I listened to it 10 times in a row while playing some PS2 game. I think this was the exact moment I became more of a music geek than a videogame geek.
4. There was about a week in January, 2002, that I listened to “Last Nite” over and over, obsessed with the rhythm guitars under the guitar solo. That this coincided with some of my most desperate non-girlfriend times is not a coincidence.
5. I have owned 4 copies of this in my life: My original CD, the one I had to buy when I scratched the original one when I was 17, the import version (“NYC Cops”, obviously) and this record. This was the second full LP I bought on vinyl, because it would have seemed stupid to even have a record collection without this.
6. This was the first album when I took my parent’s van out the night I got my driver’s license, and I have distinct memories of hitting a curb while listening to “Hard to Explain” and being sure I was going to die driving that van.
7. The Strokes are a good band to have your heart broken by. When you stop caring about them when they make a turd of a third album, you get the sense even they don’t care about the Strokes anymore.
8. It’s possible I have listened to this album more than any other album in my life. I bet I have spent a solid month of time in minutes listening to this. It’s maybe the only album I feel I am qualified to write a 33 1/3 about. I could do a chapter on the drumming alone.
9. The last thing I want to mention about this album is that I remember having HEATED arguments about it in high school, particularly with this girl who was way into pop punk, and she said that NOFX were better than the Strokes. I knew this to be untrue, even though I had never even listened to NOFX. And I still haven’t; she made me so mad, I never listened to a band’s music. In retrospect, this was us having some obvious sexual tension—she was about the only girl I could talk to comfortably at that point, and the idea I was able to argue about bands with her is crazy to me in retrospect—but I probably cock-blocked myself out of talking to her anymore/ever listening to NOFX when I called her “an idiot” for saying something like that. I am the opposite of Julian Casablancas when it comes to talking to girls who maybe hate-like me.
10. I guess the point of this list—which I had hoped prior to stream of consciousness-ing this thing 10 minutes ago—was that the Strokes are a band that have had a major impact on the history of the pop culture of my life. I’m not sure I’ve done it justice. But if I had to take one CD on a one-man journey to Mars where I would die, it would probably be this, because it makes me remember what it was like, and it’s the closest thing I have to a musical teddy bear.