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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All right, call me silly, but I've got a question for you. Do you remember "The Freshmen"? Cast your mind back to middle school -- no, farther back than Linkin Park. If you hit Alanis or the Spice Girls you've probably gone too far. I'm talking about the Verve Pipe: those soulful modern rockers with just the right dose of world-weary angst to them. Maybe you knew some high school freshmen who thought their hit single "The Freshmen" would make an excellent theme song for the end-of-year class slideshow.

No? OK, maybe just me.

Anyway. I remember we sat around not just once but several times trying to decide what it could mean, that song, with its cryptic words about baby's breath and a shoe-ful of rice and Valium and sleeping. Well, obviously (says I), it was about a girl who committed suicide after the loss of an intense relationship expected to lead to marriage. There were plenty of other theories, too, some based on misheard lyrics and others not.

Turns out it was (of course!) a song about abortion. Years later the lead singer said he wrote it about a friend who had an abortion in their youth, and he took the creative liberty of having the fictional version of the woman commit suicide in her grief (in real life she didn't). So tell me: is it really that obvious?

I still think the lyrics were vague enough that I could be forgiven for missing the abortiony implications. But on the other hand, thinking back, there's probably a ton of abortion allusions in pop culture that went right over my head when I was a kid. Because it's just not something you have clear information about when you're young. Which is maybe why it's easy to get to your teenage years or beyond with all sorts of confused/confusing the young pregnant caller who asked one of us, "How do they put the baby back in you afterward? Do they have to do that part?"


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