In Defense of Obscurity

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You probably have a favorite song that none of your friends have ever heard before.  Today, I’ll share one with you.

I have been tremendously busy these last few weeks, what with the two kids and my English classes and the ever-increasing demands of graduate school.  I’ve been reading Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte and Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, which take a lot of my time, and I haven’t had a brisk idea for my blog in a while.

So, out of frustration, I thought, “What would I want to share with the (literally!) dozens of souls who read”  And it occurred to me that I probably know a great song or two that my readers have never heard before.  All I had to do was think of my favorite obscure song, or my most obscure favorite song, or whatever song met at the nexus of “obscurity” and “artistic merit,” and write a post about that.  And that’s how we come to the topic of today’s blog: “Working Class Jacket” by My Favorite.
Here’s the story behind the song.  My dear friend, Audrey, was once an R.A. at Barnard College, and she found this 7″ record (a split between My Favorite and Mad Planets) while cleaning out a vacated dorm room one day around 1998.  Someone had bought it for $3.98 at a place called Etherea Records and then abandoned it, and she snatched it up only to save it from the trashpile.  She gave it to me not because she had liked it, or even played it, which she hadn’t.  But I’ve been listening to it ever since because it turned out to be an impressive piece of pop-punk perfection.
I consider “Working Class Jacket” to be an obscure song, though I’m not sure that the word “obscure” still applies to pop music as it used to.  When I was a teenager, I would have to catch a ride to the skate shop in town to get my Bikini Kill records.  When my friends and I were young men, we would hang out in a certain bar in midtown Memphis because its jukebox was the only place we could hear “You’re So Square” by Elvis.  And, once, I ran into two Irish women in the basement of a pub on Marshall Avenue who used to meet down there because the jukebox was the only place they could hear a particular U2 B-side.  
Today, everything is available either on iTunes, Pandora, or Spotify.  Obscurity is a thing of the past.  Though you can’t find “Working Class Jacket” on Spotify (yet!), you can download its album-version equivalent from iTunes for 99 cents.  There are two videos on, but neither of them is the version that I have on my 7″ record.
So, what have I done?  I have uploaded an mp4 of the song (direct from Audrey’s record) onto youtube, without permission from the songwriter, thereby annihilating the very obscurity that this blog post has sought to celebrate.  Calling attention to this song has only added to the deluge of information that drowns out and makes all songs unspectacular, and has added to the worst tendency of the internet.  I’m justifying it only because this song has brought me happiness for close to 15 years, and that has a value.  If anyone in the band has a problem with it, they can contact me through youtube.  And then I’ll be able to thank them.

One thought on “In Defense of Obscurity

  1. Thank you! The album version of "Working Class Jacket" was the first song by My Favorite I ever heard, and it's wonderful to hear the differences.

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