Thanks for the memories

Celia Skaggs, Blogger

A few weeks ago, I discussed notable Northwestern alumni who have gone on to succeed in the music business. NU is obviously jam-packed with talent, but Chicago’s North Shore also has its own crop of successful stars. It just so happens many of these artists have a strangely specific place in my heart. Obviously, that place belongs to my middle school years as well. After a little bit of digging, I’ve discovered Evanston and its surrounding suburbs have produced a significant number of artists who were successful in the early 2000s. Though they may remain forgotten on the top charts today, these musicians and bands have endured over time in the form of my most awkward memories.

As a middle schooler, I thought I had really edgy and alternative taste in music. So it should come as no surprise that I was obsessed with all the members of Fall Out Boy. In my early teen years, I found few things more exhilarating than jamming to “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” on the drive to toilet-paper a cute guy’s house. Because of this, it’s obviously a but less surprising that I knew the band hailed from the Chicago area. In fact, bassist Pete Wentz — arguably the group’s most famous member — was born in Wilmette, while lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump hails from Glenview. Though the meaning of this connection escaped me as a teen fangirl, I’ve certainly come to appreciate it at NU. So even though Fall Out Boy has fallen from its perch at the top of my heart, the band’s local history ensures their influence remains. Thanks for the memories, guys.

In a similar brush with Evanston fate, I became a huge Liz Phair fan after I heard “Why Can’t I?” on a mix CD I received as a birthday-party favor. Maybe this 13th birthday shindig was also camouflage themed, maybe it wasn’t. Fashion was great back then. Anyway, I’ve somehow kept this mix CD in my car to this day and “Why Can’t I?” is still my favorite track on the list. So while exploring our local music history, I was delighted to discover Liz Phair went to school in Winnetka. Once an integral part of my early teen experience, she’s become prominent in my life once again as the North Shore connection has urged me to explore some of her other songs (which I have to say, I quite enjoy).

I know I’m not alone in youthful infatuation with these artists, but I’m glad my exploration of local music history has brought back some of my most classic middle school moments. From accompanying epic sleepovers to providing the soundtrack to dangerous rides in the bed of a cousin’s pickup truck, these artists helped make my awkward teen years entirely unforgettable. So even though my musical phases may be different from yours, I encourage everyone to explore Chicago’s local music history and see what you find. If anything, I bet you’ll have a fabulous middle-school dance flashback at some point (and that’s really all you can ask for).

— Celia Skaggs