Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs #4: I Wasn't A Teenage Anarchist

Apparently, when you hit your teenage years, you're supposed to rebel against your parents and the establishment, severing the ties that bind you to your childhood and allowing you to fly free and conquer the world as you hit adulthood.

I reckon I got that all ass-backwards. As I've hinted at in previous posts, I didn't so much rebel against my parents and their generation as rebel against my peers. Every time they told me I should be listening to The Smiths, I cranked up The Beach Boys. When Frankie said Relax, in my house he said Regrets... I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention. When 17 year old Aisling Reynolds (and her older sister Linda) told the world they'd rather Jack... 17 year old Rol screamed back that he'd much rather Fleetwood Mac, thank you very much. (I changed my mind completely on The Smiths and partly on Frankie, but I still find that Reynolds Girls song once of the most offensive things ever committed to vinyl).

It wasn't just in music that I rebelled against being a teenager. I refused to touch a drop of alcohol... until I was in my early 20s, and the slope was very slippery after that. I never smoked behind the bike sheds. (I would have gone with a girl behind the bike sheds, but what girl would want a teenage pensioner?) Drugs? Yeah, right. Zammo never had to warn me off those. By the time I reached Sixth Form, my friends were calling me Victor Meldrew. My friends! And part of me relished it.

Looking back, I must have seemed a complete dick to a lot of my peers. And I probably was. But I had one thing in common with a lot of teenagers: I wanted to be different. Not from my parents though, because they were different from everybody else's parents anyway. They were ten, fifteen years older than most other mums and dads I met. They came from the Land Before Rock 'n' Roll. I never wanted to disrespect them or hurt them in any way, and though we clashed occasionally, mostly my home life was harmonious. But this restricted me when I hit my 20s and caused me to make all kinds of stupid mistakes then that I should have made when I was 16. It would probably have been better for me if I had been a teenage anarchist...

4. Against Me! - I Was A Teenage Anarchist

Against Me! are a very interesting band, not least because their lead singer changed genders halfway through their career. A former colleague of mind did the same and I admire her so much for the bravery of that decision. Imagine living most of your life in the wrong body, and then having the guts to do something about it. Makes my own midlife crisis pale into insignificance...


  1. We are all unique Rol and you had a very particular brand of uniqueness! I do see a lot of myself in the teenage Rol sometimes but I don't think I was ever branded Victor Meldrew and I did take to alcohol with relish at 17/18! Great fodder for these stories you tell however and yes that Reynolds Girls song was a crime against humanity.

  2. Lovely post, Rol and I do get it -I think it's about just feeling 'different' from the mainstream, whatever that is, and it manifests itself in a variety of ways - as you say, your own version was a form of rebellion too, a rebellion against your peers. I know we touched on it before on one of my old posts about geeks; it really was for a similar reason that I identified with the arty weirdness of early punk (which didn't bother my parents at all - nothing to rebel against there either). Even before the teenage hormones kicked in I felt like a misfit, a nerdy kid with her head buried in books and drawings or watching ants - these things stay with us, I think!

    Just read up about Against Me! following this post - fascinating.

  3. I have a fixed vision of myself as a teenager in my head, then I look at the photographic evidence and the actual truth of the matter becomes horribly apparent. I was a clean living lad though, at least until I started work. It's been downhill ever since.


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