How Teenage Fanclub Saved My Life

Recently I went to Kentucky to do some research for a new book I’m working on (no, it’s not about music – it’s about a racehorse). It’s a six-hour trip, and on the way up, NPR was enough for me to keep my attention, and I was looking forward to getting back.

Fast forward four days: I’m exhausted from my research, and I start driving. I look at the odometer every 5/10ths of a mile, wondering how much farther I’ve gone, and I know I won’t last six hours again with stories of Syrian refugees and the state of the Euro.

I pull over at the nearest Starbucks, have a coffee, and download something that I knew I could sing along to – something that would keep me awake throughout the trip. I decide on Teenage Fanclub.

I must admit I didn’t know the words to their songs, but they were familiar enough to evoke some response in my brain. Thanks to my hours of labeling my mp3s, I download the four- and five-star rated songs to my iPhone, get back in my car, and start playing the music.

Teenage Fanclub started out as your typical Brit-Pop band – heavy, screeching guitars, morose singing – but they seemed to find their sound by the middle of their second album – lots of layered harmonies, unforgettable melodies, and an energy that seems to go on forever.

I went through Kentucky and most of Tennessee listening to about 15-20 songs by them, humming the parts I didn’t know, singing in harmony with the group, and staying mentally alert. They literally saved my sanity; I don’t think I could have looked at my odometer every 30 seconds and stayed mentally balanced.

By the time I entered Georgia the playlist was over, but I found a sports talk radio station by then and all was good. I have a new appreciation for Teenage Fanclub now, and it’s become my soundtrack for my book; every time I work on it I play one of their albums. They’ll be in the acknowledgments to my book, and they may have saved me from running off the road in the hills of Kentucky.