Everclear has returned with a new set of tuneful pragmatism entitled Slow Motion Daydream. No new tale to tell here — Art Alexakis’ songs have always been immediately recognizable, momentarily hummable, and ultimately forgettable. However… On a recent road trip, after Q106.5’s kick-ass ZZ Top classic rock block made way for the Pro Tool’d synthesis of Nirvana and Candlebox (Nirvandleba?) that is Seether’s “Fine Again,” I hit scan, eventually landing in the midst of a yammering modern rock DJ’s back announcement. He was giving props out to a new song from Everclear called “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom.” I cataloged the information in my head (Everclear/new song/impossibly stupid name/I still hate “I Will Buy You A New Life”), and scanned until I caught the tail end of Kiss’ “Beth.” But a funny thing happened a few minutes later. I heard “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” on a different station. It was recognizable, and it was hummable. But ultimately, I wanted to forget because it hit too close to home.
I don’t drive a beige Volvo, though I think the Cross Country is a cool station wagon. I don’t play soccer, nor am I a mom. But I am a guy who will eventually get old. For the same reason that Johnny Cash’s harrowing cover of “Hurt” makes my skin get clammy, Everclear’s “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” tears a hole in my everyday existence. The song is a big “F you!” from Art Alexakis to every ex-stripper/party girl/rock chick from his high school that grew up to wear Land’s End and live in a subdivision. And it’s petty, likely recorded live inside Art’s ivory tower. It passes unfair judgment on the title character for her transformation. Nevertheless, at the song’s core is the notion that youthful rebellion will always trump success as an adult. And that’s as scary as the sobering reality of John Cash’s mortality, because if you value your prerogative to see rock and roll shows three times a week and get home when your neighbors get up, it’s painful to be told once again that it can’t last forever.
“Soccer Mom”’s video inter-cuts its titular character’s nouveau June Cleaver existence with her previous self’s subsistence. Soccer Mom dons a pink terry cloth robe and heads to her kitchen to start breakfast for the kids; Rock Chick wakes up in her clothes and lights a cigarette off the stove. Depending on your perspective, neither side is very appealing. But as the video progresses, images of late-night parties and pogo’ing crowds pass by, accompanied by Alexakis’ weirdly bittersweet lyric: “Where do all the porn stars go when the lights go down?” The line is a sullied-up simplification of the idea that youth fades and reality sets in. It’s like that kid with the five-foot mohawk who cuts in front of you at the deli. “Where does he work with hair like that?” you think. Or the tattoo artist on Discovery Channel. “Honestly, who gets a tattoo on their scalp of a vampire bat smoking a Kool?” Behind the incredulity, there’s grudging admiration and some longing for the limitless possibilities of youth. Alexakis never makes it clear whether his Soccer Mom is content. He doesn’t predict what she would feel — anger or envy? — if she saw Rock Chick keying a car down the block. The portrayal of Rock Chick’s life doesn’t glorify youth by any means, but at least she has the ability to change. Soccer Mom’s life is stuck in a cul de sac, and in the end, the only tether to her social rebellion is a shitty tattoo and late night blue movies. It’s a sour-pussed way to look at American life, and I dislike Everclear even more for making me write about it.
“Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” might make me squirm the most because of the way in which Alexakis frames his narrative. He spits first-person lyrics like “I used to be a bad girl/I got busted for possession of my wizard shaped bong/…but now I’m the Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” as if she has to defend the perfection of the present with her prurient past. I don’t want to reach a point where I’m defending myself to myself. Nor do I want to be the infamous Old Guy at the show, followed to the back of the club by catcalls of “My ride’s here.” But the day will come when I am that guy. And I only hope that when it does, I’ll hit scan on the radio and land on Seger. Come back, baby. Rock and roll never forgets.
Watch the video for “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom.”
10 thoughts on “Little Bit Older, Lot Less Bolder”
I thought this was an outstanding article. It raised quite a few questions that I have asked myself in the last few months. At 31 am I the old guy at the rock shows now or do I still have a few years left until that point? I am getting bored with youth culture and rock shows, but what’s the alternative? As my friends flock to their golf leagues and other ‘adult’ social norms, I wonder how to reinvent a life as an adult that still upholds the spirit of rock and roll but with the integrity of maturity and wisdom? Somewhere in between the two extremes that Alexakis portrays in his song?
J Lo, this is a really fantastic article. It got me thinking about all sorts of “old-guy/young-guy” situations… like, when is it too old to watch the highschool girls’ water-polo matches? Or attend highschool fantasy sleep-over pillowfights? Or read the Wallstreet Journal (with a highschool cheerleader)? Or to make dumb jokes about ogling highschoolers? Must it all come to an end?
I really tried to listen to the song. No, really, I did. I even put headphones on for the occasion, mainly so i couldn’t escape, but still i zoned out and thought about other things. And you know the sad part is that I have no idea what I was thinking about, but I have this feeling that this is a better sensation, this wonderment of not knowing what I lost my focus to, than the feeling that the unleashing of a bland piece of pop culture to lower the status quo brings. Of course, I could be wrong, perhaps I should give ‘er a focused second listening…
“That’s what I like about these high school girls, I keep getting older, they stay the same age.” ~Wooderson (from “Dazed and Confused”)
I’m still wondering how an ex-stripper becomes a Volvo-Driving soccer mom. How does a stripper meet a guy who will give her a life like that?
I’m 40 (born on the same day as Art Alexakis), and I’m one of very few I know my age who still listens to rock music. I still feel 19 inside. But getting older means more responsibility and more serious things to contend with. I think being young is so appealing because of that lack of responsibility. I listen to rock (old and new) because it makes me feel like I did then. But I also find that the older I get, the more interesting life is and the more “me” I become.
Tasha, I bet she met him at the strip club. That’s how Nikki met Victor Newman on Young and the Restless.
im only 17 so i assume ive still got all these dilemmas to come. but intill then “HEY, MY RIDES HERE!”
Oh Jesus, Jake. You just gave too much away.
I think we’re all in aggreeance that Craig misspelled ‘until’ up there in his comment.
Enjoy it, Craig. It doesn’t last.
hey my name is sarah and i’m really hopeing to be a singer like use. i have a music festervill comeing up soon and i’m sing your song ‘childern get older i’m geting older twoo’ i really can’t what so whish me luck. could us please seand me the words to that song so i can lern the rest of it you would be saveing me a heap of time trying to find it on the intonet.
thanx your best fan sarah
ps. i wached you on the arriawards. ( AND I WAS SING ALONG to the parts i new)