“Even if your voice comes back again/Maybe there’ll be no one listening.”
The morning I climbed into my car to drive myself to the first day of my last year of high school, those lyrics punched me straight in the gut. I was reeling from a broken heart, given to me by a girl who’d occupied my mind all summer long. A few months earlier, she would have been walking the same high school halls that I was driving toward that morning. But she’d graduated and was now two hours south, probably waking up for her first day of college classes. Things hadn’t worked out between us, and if I’d been smart, I would have realized three months earlier that they were never going to. I didn’t, and now I was nursing a few fresh wounds and the prospect of facing down one last year of high school without her and without all the other friends who had left this town behind. “Crashin” was the song playing on the stereo, but it was a line from Andrew McMahon’s previous album that might have been most appropriate: “Hold on/It’s gonna be a hard day.”
We’ve been giving Andrew McMahon a lot of love this week, all in honor of his brand new album, Zombies on Broadway. On Monday, we published an interview with him and yesterday, we reviewed the new record. Today, we’re attempting the impossible: distilling McMahon’s impressive 15-year career into one ultimate concert setlist.
For this playlist, I mostly adhered to the rules established last year in Craig Ismaili’s Ultimate Jimmy Eat World Setlist: 20 songs for the main set, two songs for the encore, and a mix of tunes that includes both hits and career-best songs. I did, however, dispense with Craig’s 80-minute rule, simply because that would mean burning one-eighth of the set on “Konstantine.”
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness will release their sophomore LP, Zombies on Broadway, later this week. I spoke with McMahon on the phone about the new record’s pop-leaning direction, his ever-evolving sound, the way family has defined his last few albums, and whether or not he’d ever consider writing a memoir. We also spoke briefly about next year’s 10-year anniversary of Jack’s Mannequin’s The Glass Passenger and whether or not fans can expect any special tours or reissues to mark the occasion.
It’s late April 2010, but the weather is so glorious outside that it feels like it’s already June. Rain was threatening earlier, but now, the sun is beating down overhead as I pack the final items into my car for the three-hour journey home. I’ve just finished my freshman year of college and closed out a great semester, and my roommate and I are saying our goodbyes in the parking lot of our dormitory, after having handed over the keys to the room we’d shared since September. It’s a bittersweet moment, but I’m happy to be headed home to the resort town where I grew up for some much needed vacation. I climb into the front seat of my ’98 Honda Civic, plug my iPod into the FM transmitter, and briefly debate which album to choose. I smile as my thumb finds Jack’s Mannequinʼs Everything in Transit — one of my favorite albums of all time, and a record that has been my definitive “summer soundtrack” since I first discovered it four years earlier. I press play and the sounds of “Holiday from Real” come coursing through my speakers. “Fuck yeah, we can live like this,” Andrew McMahon sings. I put on my aviators, shift the car into first gear, and drive. This is going to be the perfect summer, I think to myself as I pull away from my first year of college. I can feel it.