Sometimes it can’t be helped: you just have to go visit your hometown for a little bit. You have to see your parents, you have to satisfy some weird sense of nostalgia that might mean you’re having a nervous breakdown, you have to spend hours driving around aimlessly, you have to duck out of sight at the Apple store in order to avoid seeing somebody you knew in high school, you have to bemoan the lack of everything but three different types of mustard in your parents’ fridge.
To make this whole process a little easier, I’ve decided to put together a playlist that might reflect the experience and, I hope, help guide you through it.
1. The Smiths – “Back to the Old House”
Get it out of your system, you big crybaby. That’s what Morrissey’s here for. Sometimes that’s constructive. Let’s just get this sadsack stuff out of the way. Then it’s time to face everything you’ve left behind.
2. The Stooges – “No Fun”
This is more like it. Iggy taps into your Morrissey-like feelings about returning home and how weird that is and just rocks out with it. The only incongruous thing is that when back home, one doesn’t need to “Maybe call Mom on the telephone,” because she’s right there, telling you she’s worried about your weight, mishearing you, blasting cable news. Which brings me to the next segment of the playlist…
3. Ramones – “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”
In Padgett Powell’s underrated book You & Me, two dudes sit around asking each other questions. One exchange of dialogue from the book stuck out in my mind while writing this. One guy asks:
“Have you noticed, any time lately, the phenomenon by which when you meet someone whose personality you object to that your own personality is shifted to a counterpersonality, as it were, to which you also object, arguably more than you object to the offending personality of the other?”
To which the second man responds:
“Is the classic instance of this when you visit your parents and are thrown into the ghosts and contours of yourself when you were, say, a teenager and in full combat against their lunatic officialdom?”
Use the next few songs to celebrate your inevitable devolution to your teenage self. Remember that just as the performers of these songs clearly don’t take themselves seriously pretending to be teenagers, neither should you:
4. Beastie Boys – “Fight for Your Right”
“Your mom threw away your best McSweeney’s Quarterly!”
5. DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Fresh Prince – “Parents Just Don’t Understand”
6. The Beach Boys – “I’m Bugged at My Ol’ Man”
7. Kanye West – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” (lyrics NSFW)
But if you have to throw yourself into a state of petulant adolescence, at least be happy that your parents can’t actually make you do stuff anymore.
8. Bruce Springsteen – “Glory Days”
Things are dark back home. Some people you knew in high school are already dead or homeless or worse—married with kids. You might think of this ’80s anthem as archetypal lame dad rock, but the lyrics are as poignant an exploration of the sad suburban death of dreams as anything on one of your precious Mountain Goats records.
9. Weezer – “My Name Is Jonas”
Don’t play this video yet. Play the song in your head. Can you even hear it without your drunken voice and the voices of 30 other people your age screaming along? Get the people you still like from back home and go get crazy with them, along with the people you avoided at the Apple store and the married people. They all know how to have a good time.
10. Simon & Garfunkel – “My Little Town”
Come back from partying, sit on the porch and look at the stars. Your parents are great, and only annoying because they’re so proud of you. A lot of the people you grew up with have life figured out a lot more than you do. You totally appreciate being home. It is beautiful, the air is clean, you’re not afraid of being stabbed, there’s a great new Indian restaurant, and for a moment, you think maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a change, time to get away from the city…
11. Talking Heads – “The Big Country”
Nah. This place is square as heck. Get me out of here.
The “Going Home” playlist is available on Spotify. Godspeed.