Just a quick note – this series is an unconnected group of stories, just titled this way for summary purposes. Nothing missed before is necessary for this or the next, and so on. The category this is under on the right will lead one to other one-offs in this series.
This will be a bit of quickie. It’s a song and a quick story.
The song is this – the big hit from the Wallflowers in 1996. One Headlight would become the signature song for Jakob Dylan’s outfit amongst the alternative rock, post-grunge hits of the late ’90’s. It placed on multiple US Billboard rock charts and was a staple of mid- to late-90’s rock radio. The Wallflowers would have a few more noticeable songs, mostly from the same 1997 album Bringing Down The Horse, but One Headlight is the band’s bona fide hit.
Here’s the story – I think it’s 2018, or maybe 2019. It’s winter, so if it’s 2019 it’s just a bit before the pandemic came over to the United States. I can’t quite remember which winter this story fell into, but I recall the details clearly.
Several of us met up at a local brewery. Craft beer has been a social and economic boon the past decade, and our semi-sleepy Midwest town caught the late wave in the latter half of the 2010’s. One of the best ones in our town that now boasts 12 or 40 or however many has hosted music over their few years of existence. While now they have a mix of renowned local talent and hot regional acts come in to play on a prepared stage, such was not the case in 2018 or 2019 when this story happened.
I was out with several of my friends on that evening. As time wore on, our friends and significant others left us (for the evening), just leaving my friend and I behind at around 8 PM.
We were at one of those tall bench tables, standing and having a few more suds on a Saturday night. Around that time, some dude comes in and sets up shop with a mic, practice amp and an acoustic guitar. He does cover songs. A one-person project doing cover songs acoustically is not some huge deal, other than the guy is set up just a few feet away from us. We press on with our drinking and talking.
At some point this one-man band busts out his rendition of One Headlight. It was the first noteworthy song he did to point. My friend and I looked at each other with this combination spark of bewilderment and familiarity – “we know this song.” Then, “oh yeah, it’s that one song from way back when.”
We had to take a moment to assess this rendition being done basically in front of us. We started debating the merits of One Headlight and The Wallflowers. Are they worthy? Is it a good song or not? We defaulted to “nah,” but as the song went on we amended our two-person consensus to “you know, it isn’t terrible.”
We finished our brews and called it a night, leaving the one-man acoustic project whose name I can’t recall but I think was Tyler behind. Then I woke up the next day.
Come on, try a little, nothing is forever….
I had the damn song stuck in my head.
It’s ok. I’ve been jamming to music since I was like 5 and I was 43 at this point. I can hack this, I’ve had songs stuck in my head before.
But this wouldn’t go away.
Got to be something better than in the middle…
I honestly went for days with this song in my head. I get it, in a way – I really hadn’t heard it in many years and it was a sudden nostalgia trip. I have never had a song stuck in my head for as long as this ear worm crawled its way in. It was honestly days, even weeks that I had to play it. This wasn’t that momentary song you could get over after a bit – this fucker was straight stuck.
Me and Cinderella, we put it all together…
I had to reckon with this song for awhile. I’ve had songs stuck in my head that I don’t necessarily mind, but I don’t really want to be stuck with them. I’ve also had songs stuck in my head that I wish would die in a fire and the ashes be shot into the Sun.
But this was different. Hearing The Wallflowers again caused me to revisit the album and remember that, hey, I dug this stuff once upon a time. I do wind up in fond nostalgia from time to time, as I’m sure most music listeners do. This was one that had truly passed me by but I became re-acclimated through this dude with his guitar at the brewery on a Saturday night.
We can drive it home on one headlight…
That’s about all there is to this story. It isn’t world-changing or even that notable. Hell, it’s barely a story. But I do still vividly recall that night I got this damn song stuck in my head after nearly two decades of not hearing it. And now I’ll even cop to being a fan, even if on the edges, of The Wallflowers. Hell, they put out a record last year that I gave a minute to. It’s nice to get back in touch with something seemingly long lost, you only get so many of those moments before it’s all said and done.