I remember the first bit of truly local music I ever bought. I was getting lunch in between classes freshman year. I picked out a sandwich and soup at the cafe in Ballantine Hall, and there was a pile of CDs next to the register. The CDs had a picture of an orange tape player on the front, and on the player was Photoshopped, "Live from Bloomington '08." I didn't notice the CDs at first, but the cashier pointed them out and said, "Would you like to buy one? You can help out the Hoosier Hills Food Bank." I asked, knowing that I didn't have any cash on me, "Can I use my Campus Access card?" "Sure thing!" she said. So, I used money that I had saved for the laundry machines to buy some music, and I felt good about it!
I took it home, unaware of the 20+ year history of LFB, and I found lots of very local music. I didn't like all of it, but I became quite attached to a few songs, especially "Alarm Clock, I hate you." That Giggles song (which is worthy of an entry unto itself) was by far my favorite, but a solid second place went to "Hoosier Homegrown." Its relative lack of words was a good thing, for it stayed out of the way of the instruments. True to (and probably helped by) the song's title, the music was very, very evocative of my mental picture of Indiana, one that had been refined by Boy Scout camping trips, infrequent jaunts to downtown Indianapolis, long drives to see my grandparents in South Bend, and outside depictions of my state formed by both transplanted Hoosiers (Kurt Vonnegut) and non-Hoosiers (New York Knicks fans).
I never saw Green Room Rockers, the band who wrote the song, in person, and I never went out of my way to find anything else by them. Thus, "Hoosier Homegrown" was all I had for five years. Based on that one song, I pictured them as a jam band that was willing to both rock and keep it low-key, often in the same song. I liked that, so I kept that picture tucked away as I kept listening to the song off and on for those five years.
Turns out, they're a ska band.
They had a show at Lafayette Brewing Company last weekend, and I went there with (if the circle weren't getting completed enough already) a friend from IU who also works at the Journal & Courier. They played songs that satisfied both the shuffling-in-place and line-dancing demographics in the crowd, as well as a song ("Basement Song") that could describe Bloomington as well as it did Lafayette. I really enjoyed everything I heard.
My friend and I left before they could play "Hoosier Homegrown," and if the title of this entry is any indication, I'm glad we did. The band's Live from Bloomington song occupies a very specific part of my mind, one that's connected to everything from freshman-year academics to Little 500 to Indiana spring. Memories change each time you recall them, and while I've been recalling those memories and their associated feelings every time I hear the song, I've heard the song each time in the same way: pre-recorded on an iDevice (iPod back then, iPhone now). They're still relatively untouched.
So, I got the best of both worlds last weekend: I enjoyed a great live band, and I still have that band's very good song intact in its original memory slot. An added bonus: I bought "Basement Song" this week, so I can enjoy at least part of the show (and especially the song's similarities to Bloomington) again and again.