[This post is part of the College: Alphabetized by Album series]
The hipster in me would like you to know that I knew about Muse before you did (and also that I own the 20 track import version). However, if we’re being real, I only found out about Muse because Steven sent me a copy of this album while I was away at Word of Life in New York. The flow of who finds which band usually works the other way, but most of the bands I find don’t appeal to Steven. In this case, I remember the exact phone conversation when Steven told me about Muse, who he described as “the band that musicians dig.”
Shortly thereafter, Absolution would become the soundtrack to my Adirondack winter. Many a night I remember jamming this as I trudged the Camry up and down the snowy highway 9 back and forth to the Word of Life Inn to work in the kitchen. One particular instance, there was a blizzard warning (this was the winter of 2005 when places in MA got over 3 feet of snow), so I didn’t plan on driving home, but instead stayed with my friend Jon Keith after my shift was finished.
The next morning looked something like this:
The roads weren’t too bad, so shortly after snapping a few pictures I headed back to campus. This is perhaps a good as place as any to tell you about the pivotal role Jon Keith played in my college experience. While I was still in high school, my good friend David Privetts went to Word of Life New York, where among other people (like his now wife Marcie) he met Jon, who alerted him to the fact that Word of Life also had a camp in Florida. With this life changing information, David went to Florida that summer (the one right after I graduated high school – 2002). He came back to Knoxville that fall and told us all about it, including the fact that there was an extension of the Bible Institute there.
At this point, I had no real intentions of going to college that fall. I had just invested in a recording studio and had set up shop in my parents attic and was content to spend at least the next year just hanging out, working, and recording music. I filed the information about Word of Life Florida away, as did Steven, who by his parents request was to attend Word of Life once he graduated high school (which was the following year). Sometime during Steven’s senior year, he decided he was going to exercise the limited freedom of choice he had about attending Word of Life and choose the Florida campus over the New York one. It was at this point that I began thinking through the idea of going along with him. My reasoning was as follows:
- There will probably be a good amount of hot girls there
- Being 9 miles from the beach would be an excellent change of scenery
- Bands that I would like to see play live will come through Tampa on tour (unlike Knoxville)
- It wouldn’t hurt to spend a year studying the Bible
It was with that mindset that come September 2003 I set off for my freshman year of college to Word of Life Florida with Steven. Had David not decided to go to Word of Life and there met Jon Keith, who then in an evidence of divine wisdom, told David about Florida, I probably would not have gone to New York with Steven. I still could have counted on meeting some attractive females, but items #2 and #3 did not in any remote way apply to New York. Being the musician that I was, I was willing to give up a sweet studio set up for the music scene in Tampa, but not for the prospects of being buried under a few feet of snow in New York.
Ironically though, I did end up in New York, but with a different set of priorities. Having a girlfriend at the time, I didn’t care about meeting more girls, and was willing to go to New York because the item on the bottom of the first list had moved up to the top. In the end, New York has a hard year, but I have some really found memories from that time. Specifically, Muse helped rekindle some of my passions for writing and recording and few years later I would find myself with the songbook for this album.
While in Dallas, I learned to play the opening song on the piano, Apocalypse Please, and several times pounded it out in the Dallas Seminary chapel on the piano that once belonged to its founder, Lewis Sperry Chafer (your understanding of dispensationalism will heighten the irony of that event). So this album has layers of images stored in my memory. The oldest are those of me driving in the dark winter nights hearing Matthew Belamy belt out that it was “time for something biblical,” while the newest are of me playing that same song in the late afternoon sun in my second fall in Dallas.
Like most of the stories I’ll recount on here, the memories I have come with their own soundtrack. The beauty of linking memory and music is that album after album can be layered with more and more memories that thoughtful re-listens can uncover. This album, and Muse in general, is no exception, and once we get to the “B” section, I’ll have more to say about that.