Just a Little Haiku

At the beginning of 1996, my life was the kind of half-mess, half-awesome blend that only makes sense when you’re cruising through your early 20s. I was living in my buddy Rahul’s spare bedroom and working a pair of nowhere part-time jobs, but I was also in the studio working on my first album and goofing my way (along with Rahul) through a late-night time slot at a local college radio station.

It was a tumultuous period during an unserious era — the perfect time for me to plunge into the many flavors of power pop, from the tried-and-true glittery bash of Cheap Trick to the more pensive strains of the Replacements, and everything in between, like the wiry, dusty tangles of Buffalo Tom’s louder work. I can’t think about those months without thinking about “Tangerine,” the opening cut from their Sleepy Eyed record — it isn’t a power pop album, and they were never really a power pop band, but this particular song sums up the smirking fury of the genre really well. When I interviewed the band later in the year before a San Francisco show, my younger brother requested “Tangerine,” and although they didn’t add it to the set list, they were kind enough to bang it out during soundcheck.

Of course, one of the biggest reasons I listened to “Tangerine” so often was that it reminded me of the girl I was dating at the time. Susie, otherwise known as the Voluptuous Redhead, was more of an ironic ’80s girl, but with that flaming hair and outsized personality, she pretty much embodied this song anyway — plus, the relationship was about as much fun, and lasted about as long, as this 2:43 bundle of hooks. Here’s to 1996, Susie, and Tangerines everywhere.

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