When I Was 15

Tori and Trent

I’m thankful for ___. Just insert something you feel I should be thankful for, then we’ll just go about our businesses.

Now that’s out of the way, I’ll move on.

Last night FYF Fest asked a simple question on Tumblr and Instagram: What was your favorite album when you were 15?

Of course, I had to count on my fingers to figure out what grade I was in. Ten minutes later and a prolonged period of squinting towards the sky in contemplation, I finally figured out it was my freshman/sophomore year in high school. Well, to be fully accurate, in the LAUSD at the time high school was grades 10-12. So really it was my final year of junior high school and first year of high school.

Being a March baby, my 15th year encompassed most of 1994. Kurt Cobain shot himself effectively killing grunge. The Juice went loose. Tanya Harding became the most infamous figure skater in history.

There were two albums that I played over and over again.

Tori Amos – Under the Pink

Hearing “God” on KROQ was a bit of a revelation especially for a boy who played the piano and had just become an atheist a couple of years prior. It was refreshing to hear a piano in rock, and it was even more refreshing to hear a woman be so defiant. What can I say? I was a huge “Roseanne” fan and a huge grunge fan, so at heart I was a feminist.

I bought the album on tape because I carried around my Walkman with me everywhere. It was a nice Sony one that could switch sides without having to eject the cassette. I completely forget where I got the $80 to buy it, but it got me through high school.

Of course it is during this time in a kid’s life that identity and hormones just become a hurricane in one’s psyche, and by this point I was pretty sure I was gay. Of course I couldn’t tell anyone because it’s high school. Duh.

A song like “Icicle” showed me that sexuality was nothing to be ashamed about. Unfortunately I’m a slow learner, so it wasn’t until second semester of my junior year that I started to come out.

“Yes, Anastasia” was the epic ode to the Romanovs. “Cornflake Girl” was a dancey number. “Pretty Good Year” has the burst of anger. “The Waitress” is just complete id.

I haven’t listened to this album in a while, but for that year I damn near wore the cassette out.

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

This album served two purposes. Of course there was the sexuality angle.

Everyone talks about the “I want to fuck you like an animal” lyric of “Closer”. But in all of the funk of the song, there was this bit that I at 15 thought was the sexiest part of the song:

Through the forest, above the trees
Within my stomach, I scrape off my knees
I drink the honey from inside your hive
You are the reason I stay alive

At a time when a bumpy bus ride gave me a hardon, you can imagine what a whispering Trent Reznor could do to me.

I’ll admit it. This album got me into industrial music. From here I checked out Ministry. Then KMFDM. Then My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. With grunge essentially over with Kurt Cobain dead, it really was time for something new.

I still like listening to this album. When I quit smoking a couple of years ago and my hormones reverted me back to my 15-year old angst-ridden self, it was a bit of catharsis.