A Song That Shaped You (Bananafish Flash Contest Entry)

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There are plenty of cool and iconic songs, plenty of songs that I love, anthems that I’d stand by, songs that were part of my childhoods, favorites that I will always love, that shaped me. But being honest with myself, there was one band that influenced my life the most. They were a cigarette smoking, ripped jean, studded jacket, emo hair, stripey tee, square shades, dripping in cool – and ladies (being polite about it) band from Nashville, lead by a man calling himself Matt Friction.

Song: Soft Smoke
Album: Hot Pink
Artist: The Pink Spiders


How did a song shape my life?


Great question @f3nix, @marcoriccardi and @tristancarax, how can a song change a life, well first of all, a direction might need changing...

... so starting little back story on where I was when I came across this band but a little boring, so feel free to skip this bit ;)

I didn’t know how good I had it as a kid, I had the best family, friends, place to grow up, adventures, pets, all sorts. Someone else, however, did. I hit high school, and I met a girl, lets call her Psycho Girl or PG. PG asked to be my best friend, in the whole world. She wanted to wear the same clothes as me, (or make me buy the same clothes as her) have the same things as me and to be part of everything I did, at first I was okay with it, but weeks went on, and PG started to take things too far.

PG made it clear she wanted be put ahead of everyone in my life, and at some point that included telling me to stop being friends with my lifelong actual best friend. I thought that was a bit mental, and told her so, explaining people could have more than one best friend. Biiiig mistake, or maybe in hindsight, best thing I ever did. PG went crazy(ier), and went to that lifelong best friend of mine, and made her the same offer, and that lifelong best friend, since the age of about 2, said… yes. PG then went about replacing me in my life, taking over my friends and making them chose between us, I was a young teen and didn’t take it well, so it wasn’t hard for her to play me to make it look like I was the crazy one. I was from a small village and there weren’t many kids (maybe 10-20 born a year.) PG showed up at my youth groups, guides, church, local park, everything, and slowly but surely, made them hers, getting close to anyone who was nice to me then forcing them to chose between us.

PG was so extreme, she do things like ring my landline to see if it was engaged, then ring round everyone I knew to try and figure out who dared defy her and talk to me. Next thing PG would change her mind and let everyone be friends with me for a few weeks, and there were so few kids around, i'd go along with it so i could be part of things. Then a week or so would pass and PG would make some unreasonable request of me in relation to doing something to another friend, like trying to get them to talk about her in text messages when I was with her, and if i'd refuse, repeat. I refused most of the time. She even tried to steal my boyfriends. But don’t feel bad for me, cos she failed miserably there at least. It crushed my confidence that my friends would drop me again and again at her bequest though, how could I believe in myself. I was replaceable, to a lifelong friend at that, someone else could be me better than me, and no one wanted me for me. I had lost pretty much all my friends for refusing to fall out with them, which to me seemed incomprehensible. Thankfully this didn't go on for too long, and I made some really good friends, including a girl who couldn't come into school enough to get onto PG's radar due to an underlying health issues, and she introduced me to The Pink Spiders, and having her, and others, I soon moved on. So this isn't a sob story, and I don't feel bad about anything that happened now. It was a long time ago, and is more just relevant to how this music was able to shape my life at the time.

Phew okay, now that's over and done with, let's get to answering the question shall we!


How did this song change or influence my life, and in what direction.


Well we know where I was to have an idea of the direction, so let's get to the how.


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I learnt a lot from their music, and they shaped me in so many ways beyond this song and this bumph, but this is a song that fourteen years later still comes back to me on a regular basis. The lyrics were so direct, and so catchy, they got under my skin, and like the best earworms, rattled round my head, and I couldn't ignore them.

“With your back to the wall you’re going to be the lonely one, if you dance all night, you’re going to be loved.”

And that’s what I wanted. So that’s what I did, and that line stays with me, sitting on the sidelines only excludes myself. I am replaceable, someone else will dance all night, it’s up to me if I want that to be me or not. Then, it meant braving talking to people at other schools, going on dates, going to parties with them, and eventually, I found a place. Now, it’s a reminder that when I don’t feel welcome, when people tell me they’d prefer someone else and don’t even realize why that might hurt my feelings, that standing with my back to the wall might mean no one can stab it, it might seem safe, but I won’t have fun there. Got to take the risk and put myself out there if I want the payoff. Get back to dancing Cal.


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“Don't know where to start, you're breaking my heart, how's anybody supposed to love you, baby till you do?”

I often need a good shake on self-acceptance, but what I love abut this phrase, is it gives me a way to approach it. I am making myself hard to love, I need to make myself easy to love. By focusing on the reasons I don’t like myself, I am making them big, and big to other people too. If I want other people to accept me, I have to. It’s the first two lines that really make it hit home for me. Where do you start loving someone who is a big ball of self-hate, they have to give you an in, and it is heart breaking. It was breaking my heart too, and hearing that, just hit me like a truck, and somehow still does. There were a lot of lines, in a lot of songs, that for better or for worse, I took to heart and lived by, and it gave me the confidence to defy some of the norms around me, and I found freedom in a lack of acceptance that let me be myself, and through that, people who did want me, who I wasn’t replaceable to. This one comes back to me, and I am so glad it does, I can't ignore it.

The Pink Spiders have made a comeback, and Matt Friction has grown in all the right ways, I still adore the music.

Damn that man has always been a punk rock poet; “everything that hurts, converts to lyric” yep Matt, yep it does.

The Pink Spiders, and this song in particular, taught me how much life sucks sometimes, and yeah it does, but "everywhere that I go is like the end of the world" - its the same for everyone, everywhere. Life is just like that, and I can keep my back safe against the wall, or I can dance all night and have fun with people around me. I can shout about my flaws or i can accept myself and make it easy for others to accept me, and it works two ways, I can accept them too, just as they are. We'll take life as it comes, and try and enjoy the little moments we get "We'll sleep in subways, we'll spend time in cafes" and we'll just have fun with the time we get.

So take a leaf out of The Pink Spiders lyric book, party a little harder, dance all night, love yourself enough for others to, enjoy this big crazy adventure, be honest with yourself, and most importantly, let's see what trouble we can get in tonight! And while you're at it, maybe give them a follow over on twitter for their endless (only somewhat misguided) life lessons through music <3

ThePinkSpidersPressPhoto.jpg

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Written for the @bananafish contest to Tell Them About A Song That Has Changed Or Influenced Your Life

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First off dear @calluna,

I have to say that I was biased coming into this. When I saw the picture, my first thought was, "Am going to survive the song?" I've never been a huge punk fan. I've liked things here and there throughout the years. In fact, as I am writing this, the first time I remember hearing punk was when a babysitter of mine introduced me to a band named Green Jello and their song, "The Three Little Pigs, at the ripe age of 11-12 ish. I couldn't get enough! lol.

Well, suffice to say, "Soft Smoke" has been on repeat since hearing it. Really enjoyable and catchy toon.

PG - since the age of 2!?! What a fucked up little girl. Makes me wonder about the parents.

I was once in a similar situation but much later in life, like when I was 24-26. This psychopathic con artist got me to start cutting people out of my life if they didn't agree to give me money so that I could give him the money (basic scenario). A beautiful person entered my life. "Skinny Love" was a song of ours. "I'll be holding all the tickets and you'll be holding all the fines," was one verse that always stuck in my head. I asked the powers at be for at least a year with her and not let me get in the way of it. You see, one year is what I would get when I was younger, one year to make new friends, one year to get past the bullies, one year until I'd be a new kid at another school, one year in another house before moving on to the next. We got our year together and I wish I was better to have at least have kept her in my life - trauma stuff got in the way. (There was an awesome acoustic version of a WB Yeats poem that also reminds me of her - I searched and couldn't find it.)

I used to sing, at least that is what I called it, various song a lot from early childhood up until about 26ish. I always had a pair of earplugs in and sang. In the car I drove for a short time, I had the music blasting and my voice behind it. - Around the 7th grade, I learned it was not proper to sing out loud the whole tape of Gun's N' Roses "Use Your Illusions 2" because "what we got there was a failure to communicate" between my dad, step-mom, and me about how MUCH! that album meant to me in my life at that time. "Some men you just can't reach," so, after they took away my favorite album in the world, I pulled out the mix-tape that had been made by the person who gave me the album and never sung out loud in front of them again. HAHA

Around the age of 26, even before then, I began to notice how depressing and melancholy the music coming out of the American airwaves was. It took some time to start forcing myself to listen to different music. Not having a guide around, it was tough. In time, I came across "This Earth is not a Cold Dead Place" by Explosions in the Sky. Many years later, ambient, post-rock type of stuff has been some of my favorites to listen too.

I am more sensitive to words in songs too. Much of what I grew up listening to and much of what is played on the radio puts images into one's mind that don't lead us down a path of intelligence and self-realization. No - sex, drug, rock n' roll and mumble rap - that is what we get no-a-days.

I really have enjoy writing all of this from what you have provided here. It is something that I needed to read as I'm that guy standing with his back to the wall most of the time, to afraid to mingle, to afraid to be "normal", oh ... wait, that's a good thing - shit, I'm screwing up my negative attitude already. Bwahaha!!!

Doing the QITR together was one of the most awesome experiences I've ever had and I'm very thankful to have gotten to work with fine writters such yourself. There is a little space here for us - outsiders.

Awesome work.

Now, it is like an hour past my bedtime but I couldn't sleep before getting this all out. Don't get used to it. Inspiration like this hits only so every other blue moon. 8-)

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Forgive my conciseness, but it's 1.36 at night and I'm writing in a language that's not mine.

It is we (I arrogate to myself the right to speak also on behalf of @ f3nix) that we must thank you @tristancarax and @calluna for continually enriching our spirit with things like this.
Personally I love when a person opens up and you can see glimpses of true humanity, it makes me feel connected.
In your exchange of confessions, you seem to me to be very beautiful and very complex people, who are honored to know even if indirectly.

  • Marco
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The Pink Spiders aren't really proper punk, more pop punk, but punk is impossible not to love really, I mean clearly all it takes is the right introduction ;) awww i am glad you enjoyed it

I met PG in high school, the friend that I refused to disown, and that she went to and got to disown me, had been my best friend since we were 2. PG's brother was normal as, her parents were lovely too, I do think she was a psycho, she picked out a boy in the first few weeks of high school as her husband to be, and a lot of it was geared around him. He was from my village, so she had to become best friends with someone from the village to gain access to his mother. It was like a 14 year campaign of hard core heartless manipulation, but she did marry his last year. It was a horrible thing to go through and it did hurt a lot at the time, but I am glad it went that way, cos if i had played her game I would still be trapped in it, and I never would have met the people who mean the most to me now.

It should be a warning sign, one more people should recognize, that if a person tells you to cut others from your life, it's a serious flag that just goes unnoticed so often. That's one hell of a line though, that sharing and connection, it's amazing the emotions and memory that can get woven into a song and the depth that can be expressed in so few words when you start turning them over. I am glad you got your year, a year sounds so long when you ask for it, and so short when it's rushing by, and then looking back, a pool both endless, and over in a blink. Are you still in touch with her?

There is something so emotionally expressive is just singing, or shouting with no real tune in my case, the lyrics to songs, i know Reba McEntire but not that song, i will have to give it a go. But damn Tris, Voodoo, i know all too well, pretty much still know all the words! As if, i wonder if that would have been the same summer for us..? Probably! In fact, that Voodoo song always reminds me of going on the first date I ever went on with @johngreenfield, which was at his house drinking wine I hated and watching Dead Set cos i was done with meals and bars and all that shit. This was all of like, ten and a half years ago lol, but I can remember exactly what part of the town i walked through while it was playing cos the pressure was so high. I had put off going on dates with him for a few weeks, and instead went dates with guys who I kind of knew it wasn't going to work out with but seemed like fun for a bit, you know the type cage fighters, musicians who were sickeningly romantic, that bullshit, but i am a feral kind of girl, and I had met John doing an amazing impression of Matt Friction drenched in blood and sweat in a bar and could tell on a pheromone level I would fall hard. Voodoo made me feel in control, I'm not the one who's so far away, the idea of being under the influence of something, or playing with poison, but remaining in control, plus it was fun music to dance to haha so even though my friends were fairly certain John was going to be a murderer, off I went, listening to this again just took me right back to that memory of walking along the road, under the bridge, and pausing the song to knock on his door. He hasn't killed me yet lol.

It is amazing how much the background of what you listen to shapes your mood, a lot of lofi and Joji gets played in the house, and it's good, but man, Joji is so so depressing, it hurts my heart sometimes, it needs balance. I'm the same, the words can sink in so deep, and before I know it, I am getting all emotional over a story in a song. Country music can be a killer for that, Midnight in Montgomery got me so bad the first few times I heard it, bloody Tin Man! Damn. I make an effort to find songs that build me up, empower me, I have got into women like K. Flay more recently, people who want to change the world with good music like Grandson (who if you haven't heard of, I would highly recommend, and not just his music, his movement) you'll have to give me some more recommendations, I have the ones you have here lined up in case i get to play DJ at work today ;)

It is amazing how music can carry between people, how we can create these sounds, and they can bring with them so much more, and become embedded in these memories, and this has been the unexpected highlight of taking part in this <3

hahaha yeah, i would like to see anyone try and keep you stood with your back to the wall, that's one thing they forget when the create an outside, the outside is endless, and out here, the fun is endless ;)

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I meant to respond sooner.

No, she no longer speaks to me due to me losing my temper and cutting her off a time or two. The last time I cut her off was when I was having major back movements. I spoke with her about it and she got really nasty with something that was really important to me so, not knowing what to do, I cut her off and I've only seen her a couple of times since then. Last time I knew, she's been dating the same person for about 10 years now, which does make me happy for her.

Hi calluna,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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oh what!!! <3<3 thank you so very much! <3


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
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I know that this is not a pity post but I still feel sorry for what you had to go through. Some kids are cruel and maybe don't even realize that. I'm glad that you found that friend who introduced you to this band. And I truly enjoyed your post. It's honest and open and I'm sure it's a great entry to the contest :)

Thank you for sharing and I wish you many many many friends in life for whom you will be irreplaceable :)

Never heard of them but I'll give them a chance to impress me :p
And wow thanks for passing your hard learned lessons to us ;)
PG sucks, but what else to expect from a PG lol

I read your story pretty spine-chilled. I know you didn't want to arouse pity, but let me say that it seemed pretty terrible to me.

it's fantastic how my personal belief in the great saving power of music is confirmed.

I am also very happy to see how much light and complexity there is in you. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us.

I hope this comment is not clumsy, because I can never be satisfied with how I can express myself in Italian, let alone in English!

  • Marco

PS: you caught a curie, well done!