I am naturally prone to making mistakes. Nothing catastrophic…yet. Usually just minute gaffes that have no actual bearing on anything important. For instance, I have owned two vehicles and over thirty gas caps in my life. Another fortuitous example is having locked myself out of my house on more than one occasion. The latter resulted in a busted door jamb, a broken window seal, torn jeans, and dislocated shoulder. Catastrophic mistakes? Nope. Costly mistakes? Most definitely. In other words, the butterfly effect of my blunders hasn’t altered my life in cataclysmic ways that require therapy. Yet.
In the mid-winter of 2007 on a bitterly freezing Saturday as I was doing my usual routine of Skyline Chili for lunch. With some time to kill (because lunch at ten AM is technically considered a second breakfast, I had to wait until at least eleven) I braved the frigid artic air and navigated my way into Ear-X-Tacy, an awesomely eccentric record store that kept Louisville weird until closing its doors for good in 2011.
While searching through the CD bin for an album I’d wanted for quite some time by the Shout Out Louds, my mind started to drift. With each flip of an album a new thought squirmed into my brain. What was I going to order at Skyline? Coneys or a 3 Way? Was the impending snowstorm going to just pepper Louisville or completely shut it down? If it did snow, would I still get to venture out tonight for an evening filled with debauchery and bad decisions?
The mindless meanderings of a 23 year old man-boy.
Suddenly my cell-phone (a flip phone) rang and I simultaneously answered and grabbed the CD I was looking for. It was my dad informing me that snow had begun to fall steadily in Lanesville, which translated into me needing to head back because I’d be driving into it. Without argument, I paid and walked back into the elements where my car sat parked a couple blocks away. As I started up my ’95 Ford Escort and waited for the heater to breathe its warmth into my bones, I slid my newly purchased mistake out of the bag. I reiterate mistake because instead of grabbing the Shout Out Louds album I’d wanted, I had erroneously purchased an album by a band called Stars of Track and Field titled Centuries Before Love and War.
I later found out that Stars of Track and Field was a three-piece indie rock band from Portland, Oregon that was active from 2003 to 2011. They were named after the song “The Stars of Track and Field” by Belle and Sebastian.
But here’s the thing about the mistake that day. While I sat in my car weighing my options of either living with the mess-up or trudging back through the looming winter chill to exchange the album, I made a concrete resolution. And it was this: I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk back in this biting cold.
My decision was made. I unwrapped the CD from its plastic wrapping, fighting a transitory war with that wretched sticker that stretched across the top of the casing, and slid the disc into my car’s player. Unfortunately the ‘Scort wasn’t properly heated yet because the player skipped track one…which tended to happen frequently in colder months. However, what I encountered with track 2, “Movies of Antarctica”, quickly erased any flicker of lingering buyer’s remorse.
The song is just breathtaking and makes for a memorable first impression – seemingly crafted for a cold day. Sonic soundscapes poured from my speakers – from the jangly guitars beloved of U2, to the drenched atmospheres revered by Radiohead to lead singer Kevin Calaba’s lingering vocals. It’s instantly catchy, but the song’s pop antecedents are clear. The track seemingly calls on a memory – so sweet yet too short.
“Movies of Antarctica
I’m colder now
After reflecting back, this mistake may have been a blessing. By accidentally purchasing this album and discovering this band (as it turned out, the album had been released 4 days prior to my accidental purchase) I was gifted a reprieve from the recycled pop-punk I’d been drowning in since the summer. My musical palate had expanded into new territory and my auditory cortex experienced a hallelujah moment.
I made it home before the flurries transformed into a storm, but forgot to grab Skyline. My mistake.