I’d love to start today’s entry by telling you that I was the kind of edgy, underground teenager that discovered punk rock megastars The Offspring back when they were rounding out the 1980s with their debut, self-titled album.
I’d love to, but I can’t.
I can’t even tell you that I got into them when they began enjoying some success with the likes of Ignition or Smash.
No, like most people who were a certain age back in the late 1990s, my first introduction to The Offspring came in the form of their breakthrough single, Pretty Fly For A White Guy.
Though that may have been my introduction to the band, it wasn’t the song that made me a fan.
The third single from the band’s 1997 punk masterpiece Ixnay on the Hombre, The Meaning of Life burst into my life with equal parts passion and poignancy.
It was raw and aggressive and yet melodious and as catchy as anything you’d expect to find on the mainstream release, Americana, which came the following year.
Sorry If I Don’t Feel Like Living The Way You Do
Speaking of Americana, it was of course, that album which I heard first, loaned to me by a friend at the height of Pretty Fly’s success. It was a good album which I enjoyed, but honestly never considered to be all that special.
After listening to it, I didn’t think for one minute that I’d ever become a huge fan of The Offspring.
Then, that same friend gave me a copy of Ixnay on The Hombre, and all of that changed.
Fantastic from the very first, this album was fresh, invigorating, and exciting in a way I’d never heard before.
From a lyrical standpoint, there was certainly a lot of stuff I couldn’t relate to (Me & My Old Lady springs immediately to mind) , but there was also plenty that I could.
As a 14/15 year-old teenager coming into my own, going through puberty and discovering for myself that alternative music, and lifestyle that varied from “the norm” were definitely for me, The Meaning of Life spoke to me perhaps more than any other song could.
The fact that it was followed up by other memorable songs that really made sense to me, like All I Want for example, only made the whole of Ixnay incredibly special to me.
Unless you count the time that I first cut off my long hair by asking the barber to style me like Dexter Holland and his trademark, blonde spikes, The Offspring’s influence on my life was more psychological than physical.
I Gotta Go Find My Own Way, I Gotta Go Make My Own Mistakes
With songs like The Meaning of Life, I found a band that I felt understood me, which, as your typically misunderstood teenager, felt like the most important thing in the world to me.
It was the first time I actually realised that it was possible to have a personal relationship with a song, that a song could be more than just something that sounded awesome, that it could actually mean something, and that it could put into words everything I wanted to say but couldn’t.
Not that it stopped me trying.
Years later, I wrote a lengthy poem called Jumping Off Bridges that a few people seemed to enjoy.
That poem was about doing something different, about carving out my own path and finding my own way, a sentiment that I’d first learned how to express simply by singing at the top of my lungs to The Meaning of Life, from one of my favourite bands as a teenager, The Offspring.
The Meaning of Life by The Offspring is the 23rd song in my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Mr. Brownstone
- Metallica – King Nothing
- The Cranberries – Zombie