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Music Monday – Garbage




This Music Monday about Garbage was inspired by The Current’s 9:30 Coffee Break dedication to bands from Wisconsin due to the Green Bay Packers winning the Superbowl. The second song played was, naturally, by Garbage.

In the summer of 2009, I fell back in love with the Wisconsin based rock band Garbage.

The summer of 2009 is largely one of those summers I want to forget, but nonetheless was a summer full of memorable events: my closest friend had died that previous spring, so emotions were being dealt with, to put it simply; good friends of mine were getting married; I had the opportunity to serve in the kitchen at an encampment for the Civil Air Patrol; I had an MRI and subsequent knee surgery; U2 was touring, so every day brought exciting news and bootlegs; I was unemployed because of my foreknowledge of impending knee surgery, so I was barely scraping by month after month; my brother was caretaker of a wilderness camp in Wisconsin, so I made frequent trips out to see him and to get away from the Cities; and I had gotten back possession of the Nissan Maxima my dad had bought my brothers and I, and with it the upgraded sound system my brother had installed when he had been away at college the previous semester.

One of my favorite activities in the summer is to roll the windows down and drive on highways with music playing, either during the late evening or at night. There is something incredibly peaceful about a warm breeze flowing through open windows and rock music playing either loudly or softly over the stereo. Memories like these have a way of bringing out nostalgic feelings in me; looking back, all I remember is the sunshine, the music, and the peaceful driving, yet I know at the time I was a cauldron of emotions stirred up to overflowing, hurting beyond all reason and fearful for the future, while suffering from severe humidity and lack of sleep and AC, yet now…all that is largely forgotten.

For some reason, that summer I decided to revisit a band that I had enjoyed growing up – Garbage. I was a huge fan of their cd “Garbage 2.0” when it came out in 1998; the album’s singles were amongst my favorite songs on the radio as I tirelessly worked my paper routes. In fact, it’s still one of my favorite albums of all time; it’s one of those albums that formed and shaped my musical interests. I don’t remember what led to me picking up the rest of Garbage’s albums in 2009, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Shirley Manson (lead singer of Garbage, and from Scotland, not Wisconsin like the rest of the band) had just been cast as a Terminator on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I’m not entirely certain.

Garbage turned out to be a good musical antidote during that summer. Their brand of alternative rock, filled with catchy guitar and electronica influenced riffs, and accompanied by female vocals felt sanctifying and encouraging in a particularly dark time. Lyrically they also tend to skew away from my normal preference for Christ-focused, Biblically influenced lyrics, but the emotions and thoughts expressed in the music should not be ignored or swept away as invalid in favor of more “spiritually enlightened” lyrics. One of the best practices a Christian can invest in is engaging with lyrics and content they come across on the radio and the television, and discern what the truth is apart from the lies; what does the Gospel have to say about this? What situations led to them saying this? Why was this action chosen over another? Often times the conclusions will vary (and be wary of anyone who matter of factly declares a matter is such and such, no discussion), but it will go a long way toward building up that Christian love we are supposed to known for.

Shirley Manson

Shirley Manson

I like Garbage. Rumors are they are recording a new album and touring in 2011; if they swing by Minneapolis, I’m going to make an effor to go see them and enjoy the show. They will never be one of my all time favorite bands, but their music has still influenced and shaped me. Garbage, when they are good, are really, really good, yet the majority of their songs aren’t that great I’ve discovered. Some grow on you, others feel like B-sides filler. Aside from “Garbage 2.0”, which is still a very solid album from start to finish, I can take maybe 4-5 songs from each of their other albums and create another really great album, but the rest of the songs just don’t really do it for me unless as background music on a summer car ride. So your enjoyment of Garbage may vary.

And I’m not ashamed to admit that I was seriously crushing on Shirley Manson for a while, but like all summer flings, it broke apart rather quickly.

Time for some music!

First, my all time favorite Garbage song – “Push It”…another one of those anthems where the music just builds and then breaks out in rapturous cacaphony…BOOM!

“Paranoid”, another great 90s alternative rock song…really dig the guitar and vocal masking on this song later on…

“I’m Only Happy When It Rains”, Garbage’s first big hit, and a sentiment that I often share…rain makes everything better…

“Androgyny” – disregarding the subject matter, this is still one of those guilty pleasure songs much like anything by Lady Gaga. When you know the truth, it has set you free, and the lie has no power. Plus, I really dig Shirley Manson’s look in this video.

“Shut Your Mouth”, Garbage’s last great song so far…

This is the noise that keeps me awake, my head explodes and my body aches…

(Jesus Juke! “Well, if the band’s name is Garbage, then of course it’s morally depraved filth, and no true Christian should be listening to them!”)

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