Teenage Fanclub – “Sparky’s Dream”
My teenage years were virtually fanclub-less. Teenage Fanclub entered my life in the summer of 2000.
“I’m sure you’ve at least heard this song,” a friend said by way of introduction as the bouncing jitter of an opening riff tore through his speakers, soaking into the bedroom walls, and bouncing back into my body.
If she lived in space, man
I’d build a plane
Out of luck so beam me up
To hear her talking again
Now I don’t know if it was because of the magic hour – that time of day we as film students romanticized for the way the light hit every angle of that room, bathing it in an amber honey-ness; or the way the sound resonated from within that bedroom, but this song got me. I had heard it on the radio before, but not during the 1990’s when it would have mattered more. I heard it being played the previous week on NU107.5, a local rock and alternative music station. Hearing it played at that moment, having it identified as “Sparky’s Dream” by Teenage Fanclub was a revelation. I felt my scalp tighten and the rest of my body relax. There was a big-ness to that moment, a reveal of sorts, the pay-off that clinched the long-planted but barely noticed prop. I didn’t realize that I had been holding my breath.
At the time of my discovery, this was considered to be a rare CD, very difficult to acquire in Metro Manila. None of the commercial music shops carried Teenage Fanclub, who barely made a ripple in the world of mainstream pop (not even when the band peaked in the “alternative music scene” during the 90’s). One had to have an in — for example someone with an older brother who didn’t want his copy anymore; or a credit card with which to purchase the CD online for a hefty price. Both options were less than promising to me at the time, which left me despondent.
I taped the songs onto a 90-minute Maxell cassette tape that never left my Walkman. I’d listen to it straight through without having to fast forward and skip any of the tracks. My copy’s Side A ended with the plaintive strains of “Tears”. Side B began with a hopeful question with “Discolite”. I’d set my Walkman to automatic reverse play so that when “Hardcore/Ballad” ended, “About You” would begin – a huge loop made of Candy Apple Red Fenders and Marshall amps.
Teenage Fanclub became the crystal ball that I looked into every day, and were the magic eyes I needed to read between the lines.