Megan Frye. Oh. She was the one. It was the winter of 1991-92 and I was 16. Grunge had just salvaged FM radio and was months from ruining it. I was driving through my hometown listening to alternative rock station WHFS when I realized Megan was about to finish her shift at Ponderosa Steak House. Deciding I would delight her with a surprise visit, I pulled my 1979 Buick Regal into the shopping plaza and parked in front of the restaurant.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner… A mulatto! An albino! … Oh, I-I, oh-oh-oh, I’m still alive …
“Okay, she should have been out here fifteen minutes ago, and they’re playing the same songs they play everyday. If the next song isn’t any good, I’m leaving.”
She wears denim wherever she goes, says she’s going to buy some records from the Status Quo, oh yeah …
“Teenage Fanclub! Oh, yeah!”
“I can’t believe they’re playing ‘The Concept’! Whatzit, like seven minutes long? I’ve only ever heard HFS play ‘Starsign.’ Maybe she went out another exit. Or maybe I just didn’t see her leave.”
I didn’t want to hurt you, ohhhhh yeah-eah-eah …
“What if she did see me and left anyway? Oo, here comes the breakdown, blickum blickum …
… blickum blickum … oooo, oooo, oo-oo, oo-oo-oooo …
“I love this part! It’s just like ‘Layla.’ Maybe she just has a big table. I’d like it if she got a big tip. Good for h — Oh my god. The Entwistle fills, the falsetto howl, the way the Rickenbackers and violins rake that chord right across your face. Oh yeah!”
… oooo, oooo, oo-oo, oo-oo-oooo …
“Wait a minute … did she return my last call?”
Douuuuuuuble-you HFS with Teenage Fanclub. Seven minutes. Jeezus. What is this, the Grateful Dead?
“Oh, shut up, Katherine. The Dead beats the shit out of that Soup Dragons song you play every hour. Screw it. I’m going home.”
A couple weeks later Megan and I spent the night together for the first time. Two nights later, she dumped me. Unsolicited, she offered, “I feel like I should love you, but I can’t.”
“Wh — “
My first teenage heartbreak. “The Concept” surreptitiously hijacks my mind’s ear at least once a month, even after all these years, and I think of Megan every time.
Do not buy this album expecting a “greatest hits.” It is not. It has 21 tracks, and it is what it claims to be: a shortcut to Teenage Fanclub. These songs are too sickly sweet to swallow all at once. The vocal harmonies are perfect, the jangle and feedback of the Rickenbacker guitars are pure rock ‘n’ roll, and the spirit is all wide-eyed Scottish melancholy. It would be like shoving 21 sticks of bubblegum in your mouth.
I got lost on the long, mazy back roads of teenage dejection. If by some miracle you didn’t, take the shortcut.