It seems such a silly cliche’ to say that “such and such (cultural artifact) got me through (period)” but that’s never really stopped me from embracing it.

Quadrophenia got me through college.

One of the toughest things in adolescence (well, in *MY* adolescence, anyway… but I hardly suspect that I am a beautiful or unique snowflake) is that whole “I AM FEELING THINGS VERY STRONGLY AND FEELING THEM FOR APPARENTLY NO REASON WHATSOEVER” thing that I had going on and I wasn’t even sure whether the things I was feeling even had names. (As it turns out, they did. Stuff like “anger”, “elation”, “agitation”, “sadness”… you know, the big checkpoints in behavior development. It was merely a case of stuff like “I’ve been (emotion) before… but never LIKE THIS!!!” in the same way that you wake up one day in your adolescence and feel like you are so hungry that you could eat a double diner cheeseburger and all of the fries and then do it again? It was like that but for, like, “state of general excitement”.)

Well, having all this stuff going on but also looking around and seeing that no one else was freaking out, I figured that freaking out would be a bad idea in general. But what to do? Well, there was study, the way you were supposed to. Work, the way you were supposed to. Try to date, the way you’re supposed to… thank goodness for music.

Quadrophenia was an album about someone who did freak out. In the freaking out, I heard all of these big things that I thought no one else understood in the various chords and hooks and screamed lyrics. Looking back, of course, I know that what I had going on was what goes on when you’re moving from this age to that age. Adolescence. At the time, however, I didn’t even know that what I was going through even had a name (let alone that it was universal to the point where everyone else around me was going through it too).

Which is why this album was so very helpful to the point where it got me through college.

Which album got you through that particular period?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com


  1. One album, just one album would have never been enough to get me through adolescence.
    I’d start with the first Violent Femme’s album, REM: Reckoning, Midnight Oil, 10,9,8,…, meh…i’ll just narrow it down to all of REM, U2, X, The Jam and so many others. Actually searching and finding new bands was probably what got me through it all.

      • One album…..Pressure….I’m not even a teen and i have more pressure to define my adolescence!?!?!?!?!

        Actually i don’t think i could name one album. I got into the alt/new wave/punk around 1981. i think i was around 16. Finding new great bands was what got me through i think. I had a few friends who i could share alt music with and it gave me a mission. And i had lot of great music. I’m not sure it answers the question but i still listen to REM, The Blue Nile, Simple Minds, X and they all still mean something to me.

        Mildly amusing anecdote: My best buddy and i were trying to convince one of our other friends to give a new band a chance. He refused saying “Never heard of them. They must suck.” That band was U2 around 1984. Yes there did come the time where we reminded him of that often.

  2. From the liner notes:

    Brighton is a fantastic place. The sea is so gorgeous you want to jump into it and sink. When I was there last time there were about two thousand mods driving up and down the promenade on scooters. My scooter’s seen the last of Brighton bloody promenade now, I know that. I felt really anonymous then, sort of like I was in an army. But everyone was a mod. Wherever you looked there were mods. Some of them were so well dressed it was sickening. Levi’s had only come into fashion about a month before and some people had jeans on that looked like they’d been born wearing them. There was this bloke there that seemed to be the ace face. He was dancing one night in the Aquarium ballroom and everyone was copying him. He kept doing different dances, but everyone would copy it and the whole place would be dancing a dance that he’d only just made up. That’s power for you, he was really heavy too, though. When the mods collected in Brighton, the Rockers would turn up too. There were never as many of them, but this geezer once took two of them at once and beat them. That didn’t usually happen I can tell you.

    I was in a crowd of kids once chasing three Rockers down Brighton Pier. As it seemed they were going to get caught anyway they stopped and turned to meet their fate. All hundred of these kids I was with stopped dead. I was the first to stop, but the rest ran, so I had to follow. There’s nothing uglier than a Rocker. This ace face geezer wouldn’t have run. He smashed the glass doors of this hotel too. He was terrific. He had a sawn-off shotgun under his jacket and he’d be kicking at plate-glass and he still looked like he was Fred Astaire reborn. Quite funny, I met him earlier today. He ended up working at the same hotel. But he wasn’t the manager.

    I never ever felt like I blasphemed. You know, in an old fashioned sense. But I was in a pretty blasphemous mood when I left for Brighton. Brighton cheered me up. But then it let me down. Me folks had let me down, Rock had let me down, women had let me down, work wasn’t worth the effort, school isn’t even worth mentioning. But I never ever thought I’d feel let down by being a mod. I pinched this boat, first time I’d ever been on a boat at sea. I had another few leapers to keep from coming down and I felt a bit bravado. So I headed for this Rock out off the coast. It was sticking up very jagged, but very peaceful. I didn’t know then what I was up to, but I know now.

    Schizophrenia! What a laugh. It must be alright to be plain ordinary mad. About halfway over I took a swallow of this Gibneys gin I’d bought. Booze never did help me much though. On the boat it did me right in, specially on top of the pills and the come-down. Anyway, the sound of the engine turned into this drone, then the drone turned into a sound like pianos or something. Like heavenly choirs or orchestras tuning up. It was really an incredible sound. Like the sort of noise you’d expect to hear in heaven, if there is such a place. I pinched myself and I wasn’t really drunk anymore. I was floating. I felt really happy. I must have looked bloody stupid as it happens. I was waving me Gibneys around in the air and singing in tune with the engine. The sound got better and better. I was nearly delirious when I got to the Rock. I switched off the engine and jumped onto it. When the engine stopped, so did the music. And when that beautiful music stopped, I remembered the come-down I had, I felt sick from the booze, the sea was splashing all over the place and there was thunder in the distance. I remembered why I had come to this bastard Rock.

    So that’s why I’m here, the bleeding boat drifted off and I’m stuck here in the pissing rain with my life flashing before me. Only it isn’t flashing, it’s crawling. Slowly. Now it’s just the bare bones of what I am.

    A tough guy, a helpless dancer.

    A romantic, is it me for a moment?

    A bloody lunatic, I’ll even carry your bags.

    A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign over me.

    Schizophrenic? I’m Bleeding Quadrophenic.

    • (No one in this story is meant to represent anyone either living or dead, particularly not the Mum and Dad. Our Mums and Dads are all very nice and live in bungalows which we bought for them in the Outer Hebrides.)

  3. I had a similar relationship with Quadrophenia when I was high school, especially when my parent moved me from LA to Oregon. The music, the sound effects throughout the album of waves breaking, and the grainy and grey photographs in the booklet seemed to be inspired by the Oregon shores in winter. When I drove to the coast during those years, I always played a cassette of the album, provided that I was by myself. To me Quadrophenia was a private and intimate album, to be played only when it was raining and I was alone.

    • It just occurs to me I didn’t really answer your exact question. The album(s) that got me through the emotional turmoil of my college years were the Springsteen albums Born to Run, Darkenss on the Edge of Town and The River – especially Darkness.

      If you’re not familiar, they were sandwiched between his Bob Dylan-wanna be early albums and the pop stardom of Born In the USA. I always thought of them as a trilogy, telling the story of a single protagonist. Racing In the Streets will still get me to tearup ever so slightly when I hear it, even today. (In truth I don’t listen to any of these albums anymore – or at least I do so very rarely. They have a way of taking back to an emotional place many, many years ago that I don’t always want to visit.)

      • I love me some Springsteen. I grew up in NJ so that is the law. It’s funny so many of his songs were always on the radio when i was young he was always a part of my personal soundtrack. However I didn’t buy one of his albums until i was about 36 when i needed to hear those songs again. So many of less popular songs were on the radio in NJ in the 80’s i had no idea which songs of his were popular until he hit the Born in the USA big time and he wasn’t just a great local guy.

      • Now those memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
        Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
        Or is it something worse that sends me
        Down to the river though I know the river is dry


  4. This will require a long response.

    From 1989 to 1999, it sort of broke down to one album per year, not one for four.

      • Dude, I was in a totally different place in 1993 from 1989. 1989-90 I listened mostly to Led Zepplin, AC-DC, and Motley Crue, but I wouldn’t say that AC-DC or Zepplin got me through freshman year… and the Crue was largely because objectifying women was part of a recovery process. So maybe Girls, Girls, Girls (make that Shout At The Devil) is the most interesting answer for all the wrong reasons.

        Sophomore year was 1990-1991, and Sailing the Seas of Cheese and Ritual de lo habitual and Paul’s Boutique (late adopter).

        Junior year was Ride the Lightning and Kill ‘Em All. I was angry Junior year. I was even angry at Metallica.

        Senior year was Midnight Marauders and Black Sunday and a backlog of Lenny Kravitz.

        And of course, the boring answer any year is always Moving Pictures, but we don’t need to get into that with all the other Rush commentary of the last week.

  5. The album that got me through high school was Eric Clapton Unplugged. I trained myself to fall asleep to it no matter what else was going on…

    The album that got me through college was the Indigo Girls’ _Swamp Ophelia_.

  6. This post made me smile. I’m a huge fan of The Who. Have you heard about this:


    I’ll be watching that next week for sure. I have to say though, I’m much more of a Tommy fan.

    As for albums that got me through high school, I was lucky to not have much emotional turmoil. For me it was really just about getting a true rock & roll education. I started high school in 1989 thinking hair metal was the epitome of music because I just didn’t know any better. Lucikly I found some new friends with more interesting tastes and that made me start searching. So high school was about getting a real rock & roll education. I feasted on a steady diet of older stuff (Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Grateful Dead) and also a lot of newer stuff (Pixies, Rush, Breeders).

      • Unfortunately it’s only one showing (next Tuesday, July 24) but it should be a good one.

        • And it’s playing within walking distance from where I live. Thank you.

  7. I can empathize with the leaning on a certain chunk of music to get you through the tough times. Mine all seem to correlate with break-ups.

    High School: Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor
    College: Jackson Browne – Saturate Before Using
    My first separation from my wife: Ben Folds – Rockin’ the Suburbs

  8. Quadrophenia is a masterpiece. What Townshend does with the four leitmotifs, particularly in the instrumental tracks, is awesome, and the raw emotion of the songs is gut-wrenching, so much deeper and realer than anything in Tommy. My favorite theme isn’t one of the main four; it’s Jimmy’s fantasy of the outfit that would make him an Ace:

    My jacket’s gonna be cut slim and checked
    Maybe a touch of seersucker with an open neck
    I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat
    I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet.

    Which, like everything else he’d relied on (Mods, drugs, girls, rock and roll) he eventually sees through and discards:

    So how come the other tickets look much better?
    Without a penny to spend they dress to the letter.

    • Tommy, it seems to me, falls apart the second he starts seeing/hearing again. (The Doctor tells you to prepare yourself for disappointment.)

      Quadrophenia climbs and keeps climbing.

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