You Forgot it in People

(Original cover)

(Reissue cover)
Band: Broken Social Scene
Album: You Forgot it in People
Best song: “Stars and Sons” is great. “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” is popular.
Worst song: Not really. The album is all pretty great.

I’ve spent the better part of two weeks exploring the range of Judd Apatow’s film and TV work, spurred by his latest film, Funny People (see friend of the site Brad’s take here).

Apatow is a guy with an eye for talent, no question, and I find much of his work to be entertaining, though I wouldn’t say he’s the genius others find him to be. Funny People is my favorite of his work and I did not find it to be some great work.

Relationships are the core of Apatow’s work and there’s something to be said for that. When you’re in a relationship, you don’t notice all the entertainment that is based around the various parts of relationships. Everything seems to have a relationship conflict portion of it. It’s just part of the game in TV, movies, etc. Music is a little easier to deal with, but, nonetheless, if you want to think about something other than relationships, good luck.

Often, it’s comforting. Other times, not as much.

I’m still friends with two of my three ex-girlfriends from high school. One, in fact, is probably my closest friend in the world (non-canine division, of course). The other is someone I’ve turned to for support and is a close friend.

This information is just to contrast with what follows and makes me wonder if it is, indeed, impossible to be friends with someone you date after the age of 18. Or maybe it’s just me.

This has little, if anything to do with You Forgot it in People or Broken Social Scene. I’m not going to go over the band’s gestation/history/lineage here, but rather will direct you to our good friend Wikipedia to see the contributions of Emily Haines, Feist, et. al. Needless to say, “collective” is a great word for the 15-piece band.

Nevertheless, I think about BSS for a couple of reasons; it occupies some places in my mind. One of those reasons is that I saw the band in 2004 in support of this album. I saw it with a girl who eventually became my girlfriend; a girl I dated for a few months, actually.

This particular girl is now engaged and, I think, will be married pretty soon. I say “I think” because I don’t know. We do not communicate in any way. This is someone with whom I spent a lot of time for a period of almost three months. This is someone who, theoretically, cared for me a bit.

I do not speak to this girl. She doesn’t speak to me. I imagine I did something to her in the post-breakup that made her unhappy; that seems to be my M.O. Nevertheless, we’re no longer friends on Facebook, she’s out of my Google Talk friends list, etc. (All steps she took, by the way, seemingly all at once.) I don’t care enough to contact her to ask why this all happened, so we remain out of communication.

That case is less strange (Tragic? Sad? Weird? I really don’t know how to describe it…) than the case of the girl with whom I’ve had the most serious relationship in my life. She and I dated in college, then for a bit after college. She stayed with me here in D.C. for a few months after she graduated college. I visited her abroad during our senior year. In India.

This is someone to whom I professed my love often; indeed, she’s someone I truly loved. She’s someone I referred for a while as “the one that got away.” Though our relationship didn’t end in a fireball as others of mine have, she is the person that I’ve put the most of myself out for. She’s someone for whom I thought about the most after we broke up and the person for whom I thought the most about while we were dating. In describing our relationship — both while it was going on and afterward — I always used the words “magical” and “spark” and “chemistry.”


We all grow and — to quote my favorite songwriter — “situations get fucked up” and nothing lasts forever and whatever. For a great many reasons (many Ross-based, I’m sure), that relationship ended.

We don’t have an incordial relationship. When my closest friend passed away, I e-mailed her to tell her. She called me to see how I was. I e-mailed her in the winter and she sent me a very nice e-mail back. We’re not enemies. I can’t speak for her, but I have no animosity toward her (though, there were some hurt feelings in the immediate breakup). We’re just not in one another’s lives. She’s in a serious relationship. I’ve been in a few relationships, both serious and not, since we broke up.

I have not seen her, physically, since before we broke up.

I want to say that distance means a lot in this case. She lives a few hundred miles away. But, really, I have friends from HS who live in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles… And I keep in contact with them, albeit more sparingly as each year passes. E-mail is effective for that sort of thing, not to mention cell phones.

(I’ll say this in both of our defenses. I don’t talk to my closest friends more than once every few weeks. I talk to my mom once every 7-10 days and she carried me in her womb for nine months, then cared for me throughout my childhood. So, outside of my coworkers, I don’t keep in that close contact with anyone. No one does.)

I don’t see the need to include her in my life. She doesn’t see the need to include me in her life. I could make more (as in “any”) effort. She could do the same. It seems to be an unspoken agreement, not of unpleasantness or of anything other than the busy life that comes for a 28-year-old.

We’ve moved on.

But, then again, do you realize how very fucked up that is? Forgetting the sexual stuff (no small thing, considering I only appear shirtless for doctors and girls I date), I cared so much for these people (the latter far more than the former, but, nevertheless). I spent a lot of time with these women and now? Nothing.

I have friends I hung out with in HS, friends I hung out with in college and I don’t talk to them. They’re out of my life. But, I never told them I loved them. I never made out with them. I never talked to them multiple times a day, slept in the same bed, talked about the various vulnerabilities I had. I didn’t cry in front of my college friends. They weren’t there when my parents split up. I didn’t visit them across the globe.

Look, I understand the nature of these situations — this is growing up. But that doesn’t make it any less strange and less tragic.

Facebook makes for some strange connections, no question. A HS ex-girlfriend (the one I am not close friends with) found me there and she’s married with a kid! I’m still friends with my serious college ex and — assuming she updates it, though I don’t know if she will — I imagine I’ll find out about her engagement/marriage/life/etc. through Facebook.

Nevertheless, it seems odd to me that I’m not friends with exes anymore. I’ve had enough navel gazing for a bit (yeah, right.), so I’m not going to write it out here as to why I’m like this. But, nevertheless, it’s sad.

Maybe the memory of these people is more effective than actually keeping contact with those people. I’d rather my exes remember me as I was during the relationship — hopefully in the initial getting-to-know-you and “falling for you” stages rather than the all-too-inevitable “Ross is creepy” stages. In the case of my ex from college, I’m not much of anything right now as compared to when I was in college (for reasons, see this).

Maybe I’d just rather have memories.

And maybe that’s the single saddest sentence laid down on this site.

The ability for music to be stapled to a person, place or experience is its greatest addition to life. It can evoke a feeling more than speech or the written word. It’s why movies use popular songs to back up scenes. It’s why “Needle in the Hay” plays as Richie Tenenbaum opens up his wrists.

There are plenty of songs that bring back memories — happy, sad, etc. — simply by hearing them. Beck’s “End of the Day” makes me cry whenever I hear it (reason sorta here) and Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew. I’ll always think of certain KCOU people when I hear Superchunk. A specific face appears in my head whenever I hear “Revolver,” and, actually, You Forgot it in People.

Again, this all has little to do with Broken Social Scene’s second record. It could apply to any record. You Forgot it in People is one of the most critically acclaimed record to have been released in the early century, with nearly every critic agreeing that it is a masterpiece. Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and seemingly half of Toronto made a record that Pitchfork gave a 9.2 rating. Pitchfork has described the band as having “grand instrumental swells, mumbly singing, and all things guitar-y and heart-wrenching and heart-on-sleeve.”

Similarly, BBC described the album as such:

Imagine Godspeed You! Black Emperor actually writing coherent pop songs or if Sebadoh decided to jam with about 20 other musicians from labels such as Sub Pop, Kranky and Thrill Jockey on some prog rock covers. But…you can imagine this almost on Top 40 radio. It’s that good.

The hooks on You Forgot it in People are undeniable. “Pacific Theme” oozes along with a short guitar melody, eventually turning to a horn to lead the way into a fully arranged band. “Looks Just Like the Sun” has a hangdog guitar line, minimal lyrics and a chorus to die for. “Almost Crimes ((Radio Kills Remix) / Broken Social Scene)” is a cacophony of voices, guitars and a pounding Keith Moon-esque drum bit. “Cause=Time” is a guitar churn that evokes the best of 1980s post-punk. “I’m Still Your Fag” is decidedly sedate, as easy vocals abound and a picking guitar slips into the background.

Looking at iTunes, the most popular song from the record is “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl,” not a surprise at all. The record features Haines (Metric’s driving force) seething sarcasm and youth as a violin drones, echoing her beautiful alto. While repetitive, it builds on itself, showing an emotion that fills the entire record.

“Stars and Sons” — featured in Ryan Fleck’s excellent Half Nelson, a film for which the band curated the soundtrack — is a one-tempo jaunt with dual vocals singing of an uncertain future (“This way we’ll know, how far to live on”). The song is the album’s highlight, with the increasingly arranged keys, vocals, guitar churns and clapping hands all pushing the song along.

There is a reason You Forgot it in People is so popular. It’s great.

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