When I was transitioning from Junior High to High School, I, much like other kids that age, ya’ know, 13-14, didn’t know who I was. I didn’t really have a clear sense of identity, I just kinda latched onto the stuff other people were doing and tried to belong as best as I could. I floated to and from a few different friend groups, in these transitional years, totally unsure where I belonged. I suppose this isn’t that crazy of a story though, I’m sure this is true for many people. I mean, who the hell figures out who they are when they’re no older than 16?
But anyway, I digress…
When I was in my sophomore year of High School my uncle, who is more or less the closest thing I have to a dad, my dad killed himself when I was seven, brutal but true, and I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t need or want sympathy, it was a long time ago, and I’ve had more than enough time to grieve and figure shit out for myself. Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh, right, my uncle..sorry about that. So my uncle came into my room (I was living with my aunt and him at the time), and asked if I had ever heard the band CAKE before, because I had showed him a punk cover of the famous Gloria Gaynor song “I Will Survive”, and they had done one as well in ’96. Naturally I hadn’t heard of them, not many people have unfortunately, which makes wearing my CAKE shirt in public a little uncomfortable, since I have the delusion in my head that most people assume I’m advertising a love of the pastry, a sort of wearable billboard that says “this is how I got fat”. I’m a little neurotic. Anyway, I looked up their cover of “I Will Survive” on YouTube, and was presented with this:
When John McCrea started “singing”, I didn’t know what to make of it, I actually started laughing, and I remember looking at my uncle incredulously, and probably asked something to the effect of “is this for real? He’s just talking!” At the time, I didn’t really understand their style at all, and I dismissed it outright as just being weird comedy music. Later on though, I started listening to more of them, starting with what is arguably their most popular album, Fashion Nugget.
Eventually I understood the music more and more, their lyrics were ironic, and sarcastic, delivered in a deadpan monotone. sometimes CAKE’s lyrics don’t feel like they match the delivery style at all, such as the song Pentagram, which is played like a country-folky-rockabilly…y jug band jam with trumpets thrown in, but has the lyrics
Your pentagram is down below our floor.
Your naked body shimmers in the night.
Dancing and chanting in a sacrificial rite.
Your feet are dry with the ashes from dead babies
Who have passed the test just like all the rest
But never really understood the reasons why
They took it in the first place.
Delivered in droll deadpan style of course. But over the years, my personality began to kind of form around this band, more and more their style spoke to me on a deeply personal level. I grew calmer, spoke softly, and boy howdy did I develop an appreciation for weird ironic humor and music. I feel like it’s kind of weird to say that a band helped me develop my personality, but that’s exactly what happened, in fact I had a running joke with my friends and family, where if someone asked me if I wanted or had done something out of my general comfort zone I’d say “dude, I listen to CAKE”, as a way of saying, “nah man, that ain’t me, I’m just a calm little ironic man”. Ironically enough, I just realized that this blog actually has a very similar vibe, calm, sometimes ironic and funny, and also like CAKE, has some artistic merit.
Anyway, that’s my little story of how CAKE helped me to figure out the kind of person I am.