I can still remember where I was when I first heard of Incubus. I was driving down 75 in my dad’s ‘79 Buick LeSabre , listening to 102.1 The Edge —RIP to The Edge— and “Pardon Me” came on.
At the time, I hadn’t truly listened to a wide variety of Alt/Rock music that wasn’t in the Christian Rock space of Audio Adrenaline or Dc Talk’s Jesus Freak., but when I heard the spacey and ambient intro for Pardon me hit, I felt it deep.
At the time, the internet not being what it is today, I didn’t go much past this car ride experience. I’d catch the song on the radio, and when I did, the volume knob needed a new max level.
Why did it resonate?
The summer of ‘99, before my senior year in HS, this discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. How coincidental that I was entering a new phase in life, struggling to grasp what comes next and I am met with this song to grease the rusty gears in my mind?
Because I had come from a different city between Jr. High and HS, I spent a great deal of time trying to mold myself to fit in and make new friends fast. I didn’t want to be the awkward kid that didn’t have these, at the time, life-long bonds.
In this moment everything began to make sense.
Pardon me while I burst into flames. I’ve had enough of the world, and it’s people’s mindless games.
Pardon me while I burn, and rise above the flames. Pardon me, Pardon me.
To me, this signified that I didn’t particularly need permission to be me. Quite frankly, it is exhausting trying to keep up with so many different facets at once.
I finally heard the whole Make Yourself album
I think it was around college when I first heard the album in its entirety. Thanks Napster!
I eventually bought the album, but initially I had it downloaded on my little 2 gig hard drive (I thought I was ballin’ out the gym with that much storage). Keep in mind this was the year 2000 at this point, and we didn’t have handheld super computers.
Let’s press on.
When I heard the album as a whole, I was blown away. Never had I heard such real emotion about people trying to dictate how you should live your life and the rejection of the notion. These are things that I felt in my soul, but in my life you didn’t disrespect elders or authority.
Again, the universe delivered me a message in its right on time fashion. The two songs that hit deep are Privilege and Make Yourself.
Solely based on the intro of the first song “Privilege”, I knew this was going to be a life altering hour of my life. Then there’s the chorus. The chorus…
I see you in line dragging your feet, you have my sympathy.
The day you were born, you were born free.
That is your privilege.
The song goes on to talk about people standing in line and not knowing why, but doing what feels right based on social cues. I began to look at the world different, and being away from home for the first time in my life, this was huge!
Transitioning from seeing the world in a different way, to how can I make myself better happened at track 7, with “Make Yourself”.
I can remember this song resonating with me so deeply. Not only did I move physically from Jr. High to High School, but I also transitioned lifestyles and friends. To go beyond my social standing, I felt this was a time where I was coming into my own spiritually.
All of my life I had been going to church just because I was told to go or because it was the thing that my friends did, but I didn’t know why I was going.
If you let them make you
They'll make you papier-mâché
At a distance you're strong
Until the wind comes
Then you crumble and blow away
This line right here, this is what got me. I really feel this sentiment just because being armed with a sense of strength is a really powerful feeling, but only if it’s true power and strength.
I’ve written about the idea of Power vs. Force, and there is a true distinction that most people don’t understand. You can have power but if it’s not real, then your body and mind begin to break down.
I broke down, and I grew spiritually and emotionally.
Such a strong influence
I can stil come back to these songs, and this album over all and feel the empowerment 20 years post release. For music to resonate so deeply and still tug at emotional strings, but also still push people to new heights is amazing.