copywriter & writing coach

The present’s just a pleasant interruption to the past….

Kelly Clay Andrew McMahon

Me with Andrew McMahon in San Diego

I can’t tell you exactly when I first heard of Something Corporate. My first vague memory of falling in love with Andrew McMahon’s first band was around the age of 14, when I illegally downloaded all of his music from Limewire. (Those were the days….) You could have called me “emo” — an early fan of Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, and t-shirts from Goodwill long before Macklemore sang about thriftshopping. Of course, like every other Something Corporate fan, I fell in love with that one particular b-side song called “Konstantine”. An epic 10+ minute piano ballad, it resonated deep within my heart about big dreams and falling in love, even though I really knew nothing about the extent of either.

When I was 15, Seattle’s “alternative” radio station The End (107.7) put on uber cheap concerts at small venues. For only $1.07 (Get it?) You could see an up-and-coming “indie” band riding the tail’s of Seattle’s popular grunge scene, which had faded into something not quite yet hipster, but a scene in its own right. Since I had skipped 6th grade, most of my friends were 1-2 (if not more) older and already had their driver’s license. During my junior year, The End hosted Something Corporate at what is now El Corazon — then called Graceland. I convinced one of my friends to skip school with me (shhh!), drive us to downtown Seattle and stand in line for what seemed like hours to see Something Corporate for the first time in my life.

That first time turned into two, then three, and then countless more. I fell in love with their lyrics, the story Andrew told through each new album, new band (Jack’s Mannequin) and recently his new “solo” project. As I got older, each song made more sense, and although I knew the lyrics like I knew the back of my hand, they suddenly meant so much more. I understood. I felt the pain, the highs, the lows.

And “Konstantine” became one of those songs that was no longer about a life I had yet to experience; it became so very much about my own heartbreaks, actually traveling across the country, becoming that “rock star”. I even learned how to play it on the piano (which is, to this day, the only song I can play on the piano.) It became so ingrained with memories that if you were to ask what song would be the soundtrack to my life, I wouldn’t hesitate to name it.

Earlier this year I entered a contest via Facebook to see Andrew McMahon play at the House of Blues in San Diego on a whim, unaware that a friend I worked with at Red Robin during college was running the contest. (Talk about a small world!) I “won” the tickets, and traveled down for a mini-vacation with Alison. For the 10th or 11th time, I saw him perform — and for the first time, in front of his hometown crowd. (On a sidenote, I have never seen a more respective and chill audience.) I, of course, sang and cried my whole way through Konstantine. It was almost an out of body experience; I felt like I was moving through the last 13 years of my life during those 13 minutes.

Of course, music moves everyone’s soul. But when you find that one song that truly resonates with your soul, it can take you places — back in time, back to a person, to another feeling. There’s a very small contingent of my generation that feels the same way about this song that I do — but at that concert in San Diego (and again when I saw him in Seattle a few days later) I found others that connected with it as I did. And that’s one of the most powerful ways that music moves people. It doesn’t just move your soul – it can move others in the exact same way, at the exact same time.

And as I’ve grown with this music (and in particular “Konstantine”) I’ve realized this is the power of music. To move not just one person, but an entire generation to feel, to participate — to act to make change. And as I’ve looked back at the movement that Andrew McMahon has “led” with his music, I can’t help but wonder…What will be the next band or song that moves us to feel in a way so powerful to make a movement?

  • paulbalcerak

    Random (related) story: When I was a junior/senior/something in high school, my brother and I also stood in a big-ass line and paid $1.07 to see like the entire Drive Thru Records lineup at the Showbox. (It definitely included Something Corporate, and they were great, and we also got to see The Starting Line, Allister, Finch and Homegrown/Midtown/someone like that. It was crazy and we crowdsurfed a lot.)

    Anyway, I’m with you — I loved that song, and it is a time machine.

    • Kelly Clay

      You know, that might have been the same show! Small world :) (And glad I’m not the only one who remembers that!)