photo & text by nacrowe
i remember first hearing the debut THIRD EYE BLIND (ELEKTRA, 1997) record my freshman year of high school. for most people entering high school is a major stage in their life, but for me it was probably a bit more intense. it marked my first time away from my family for any extended period of time as i was attending a boarding school in NEW ENGLAND while they stayed half a world away in NIGERIA. a fresh start in an unfamiliar setting (which is probably a good a title as any for my life story come to think of it). boarding school was tough. i was bullied by upper class-men while the dorm heads looked the other way, you know "boys will be boys" or some bullshit. i was lucky though, others my age had it much worse, even this happened while i was there. it was alienating being around students whose parents were dignitaries, film directors, royalty, senior government officials or the heads of state and industry; the level of privilege my peer had was positively suffocating. i was happy to leave after my sophomore year to rejoin my family, then stationed in the MIDDLE EAST.
the soundtrack to those two years was that debut THIRD EYE BLIND album. i know the songwriter and frontman STEPHAN JENKINS was writing about personal themes related to DRUG USE, ABUSE and SUICIDE all throughout, but for me it felt like the central concern was LONELINESS. maybe that was because id listen to the gorgeous ERIC VALENTINE-produced LUSH, REVERB-DRENCHED sonic landscapes on those frozen bus rides to and from classes surrounded by empty snow blanketed farmland. this record sounded so BEAUTIFUL and RICH that it only made the experience of listening to it that much more EMOTIONALLY RESONANT. to this day hearing songs like "LOSING A WHOLE YEAR," "THE BACKGROUND," "THANKS A LOT," "NARCOLEPSY," "GOD OF WINE" and especially "I WANT YOU" bring me right back to 14.
moving to NIGERIA was the turning point of my life, when my perspective and identity as a naive SOUTHERN CALIFORNIAN ended. surviving two years of boarding school in a sometimes abusive environment was similarly a moment of personal PROGRESSION and AUTONOMY. but looking back i just see a lonely kid who felt like his whole life up to that point was marked by continually being in the wrong place at the wrong time, losing more than just a year in the process. i havent been back to NEW ENGLAND since and have no plans to, even before the pandemic.
i still listen to this record regularly even though im glad im i dont have to be that teenager anymore. thank god. great record that should be celebrated. definitely worth revisiting and checking out again.