Maybe I should explain a bit about my guilty pleasure, Our Lady Peace. Being a Canadian rock band, my southern ass didn't find out about them until one day when I heard their hit song, Superman's Dead, on 97.1 the Eagle. That same day I bought the Clumsy album.
My first impression wasn't that great. The music, vocal stylings and especially the lyrics came across as foreign and a bit bizarre, especially coming from a background of Metallica (pre-black album), Megadeth, and Pantera. But something about it kept drawing me back. Something in the words spoke to me in places I was afraid to look. Even now, almost 15 years later I realize that the title track, Clumsy, practically screams my life problems - that is to say that I've all but alienated my dearest friends and have withdrawn deeply inside of myself, never wanting to burden anybody with my own problems.
A few weeks later, I heard an interview with lead singer Raine Maida discussing the message behind Superman's dead, which ironically came out about the same time as Christopher Reeve's accident. He described it in a way that I've grown to adore it, that it's difficult for the youth of today with the over-whelming feeling that just being yourself is a mistake and that there's nobody to look up to. After watching the most recent presidential debates and trying my damnedest not to vomit every time I see a Romney/Ryan sign in a yard or plugged by a friend on Facebook, I must agree wholeheartedly.
When Happiness... came out, I was in the same boat as before. The music spoke to me, but it did something I'd grown out of touch from - deeper thought with music. Written entirely in metaphors and dodging cliches like an Olympic acrobat, I found myself in love with Thief, Stealing Babies (no, not literally) and Lying Awake.
When Gravity came out (I never even heard about Spiritual Machines until years later), I was turned off by the single, Somewhere Out There, that kept repeating on the radio. Up until this point, I'd always felt that the magic of Our Lady Peace was some twisted verbage meant to tickle my ears and scrape the rust from my brain. I think what really bothered me was that I'd yet to hear a love song from Our Lady Peace, at least not in this sense. It took about a year before I came across the album and figured I owed the boys a chance. Needless to say, it's a decision I've never regretted in the least.
It was with the Gravity album that I finally realized why Our Lady Peace meant so much to me. More specifically, it was with their song, Innocent. What you need to know, if nothing else, is that behind Raina's vocal range, labyrinthine metaphors, and awkward chord progressions, Our Lady Peace sings of hope, love, understanding, and peace (who knew?!). The very things that I've whispered to friends sobbing in hopelessness, lectured to my students, and even tried to convince myself of from time to time, are the pinnacles of each newly released album.
Our Lady Peace broke up soon after the release of Healthy in Paranoid Times, bringing about with it a single broken heart in my area - Never seemed to win any of my friends over to the group. But I've held my favorites close to my heart, even picking up their 'best of' album, entitled "A Decade". Even if it was the best of, I was really disappointed it didn't contain Made of Steel and Sorry, a couple of my favorites from the Gravity album.
And today... of all days... I decided to check up on Raine Maida's solo album. What did I find? They got back together three years ago! Have I checked out "Burn Burn" or "Curve"? No, sadly not. But next paycheck and I'm all there, firmly believing that they haven't dulled their edges, but bring an ambrosia even sweeter.
So to Raine, Jeremy, Duncan, Steve, Mike, Chris, and Jim - Thank you for years of understanding and promoting. I've spent half my life admiring your talents; here's to another fifteen years of loving everything you do.