music nostalgia

Construx Playlist #6 : Throwback:Highschool (Part 1/4)

9:00:00 AMPaul

Here is part 1 of a 4 part series of songs I loved in high school. I tried to make it different than regular lists by adding what each song or band means to me personally. Some get a little long winded, and I apologize for that, but music was such a huge piece of my childhood, its hard to contain. 

As always you can download any song you want for free, or check out their video to relive some 90's magic. If you feel as inspired as I do thinking of old songs that pieced together your teenage years feel free to add them in the comments section. 



1. Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot

This song I remember I listened to at Sean Fingal's house on full blast. It was such a nice stress reliever to scream along to the chorus of the song. Being such a NIN fan knowing that the former guitar tech for the band went off and did a song, I was on board for sure. We used to pantomime the entire song from start to finish; straining the arteries in our necks, and patience of his parents.


Back when this song reeled its ugly head to the masses it was undeniable. It was all over Mtv, it was all claymation, it was easy to sing along. I remember it was the number one video in the world, when such things were documented. I bought the cassette during a field trip to the Monroeville Mall, and I had a choice between a Green Jello or Green Jelly tape, and I foolishly picked Green Jelly thinking that somehow someway I would get into trouble for owning something apart of a lawsuit between the band and Jello.  

I listened to the whole tape at my friend Rob Jones' house, and was confused that they were a bit undefinable by going all over the musical spectrum from punk to metal to rave, I didn't know if I was "supposed to" like them. 

Back when you could defraud record clubs, I ordered the Green Jello VHS tape as they were heralded as "the world's first video only band" and it was the first bill I ever blew off. I got the bill for a whopping 23.00 and nervously hid it in the garbage for reasons only growing up under that strange environment can instill in you. 

What is extra amazing is that I got to see them last year live and in person. As you can tell from the video below I was on stage inches away from the man responsible for such a huge part of my musical past. I even get the honor of a big old middle finger for my trouble!

3. Helmet - Unsung
 I heard this song the old fashioned way, by a friend playing it for me.  This ended up being the very first CD I ever owned. This song was right before the huge grunge movement, but after metal died. In my opinion it was one of the first "alternative" songs in existence. It was the only hit they ever had, but permanently engraved into my head. 


4. Metallica - Enter the Sandman

Back in an age where Mtv meant something to someone, I saw Metallica on a late night program. Before that, I had no clue that music existed outside of what was on the radio. Metallica was what I wanted out of music at the time. It was heavy, it was fast, it was loud, it had a creepy old guy in the video. The black album was my gateway drug to all other kinds of music. Metallica was the band that snapped by trance of pop music and opened the world of metal, alternative, techno, industrial, if I had to make a flow chart (what a great idea!) Metallica would be at the near bottom.

5. Nine Inch Nails - Wish
 This was another catalyst for all types of music for me, including my interest in electronic music. I remember my friend Chris Ritter (RIP) came over to my house on his bike with a mix tape in his pocket. He was very excited to share some new songs he found, so I put it in my tape deck and listened to the new Soul Asylum to which I was only mildly enchanted. It wasn't until we flipped over to side B, I heard Wish from Nine Inch Nails. My mouth hung open with amazement, I had no clue music could be taken to that level. It was the hardest, fastest, most hardcore thing I ever heard. It had so much rage, so much passion, so much destructive energy behind it I fell in love immediately. I begged to keep the tape, and listened to it every night before bed so where the headphones blew out, and the tape gave way. Shortly after that my circle of friends picked up on it after my frantic recommendation we found Pretty Hate Machine and the love affair from there would go on for almost 15 years after that.

6. Butthole Surfers - Who Was In My Room?

I remember seeing the video on late night Mtv (headbangers ball maybe), and I loved this song. It was bizarre, it was heavy, and the name was hilarious. 

It was early in the school year, and my high school girlfriend's family was really into this craft fair somewhere an hour or so from Pittsburgh. They went every year like a religious pilgrimage, and I had less than zero interest in crafts it was a chance to be with her and not at home. It's a sad state of affairs when your son will gladly go to a craft fair in order to avoid the cold strangling embrace of being at home. 

Anyways, I walked over to a book store (which the name escapes me now) way off the craft boundaries, and I was going to buy my annual Hockey Almanac (this predated internet folks!) and I saw them selling a small select amount of CD's. It was there I saw Independent Worm Saloon, without question I snagged the CD very proud of my find. I concealed the "offensively" named  disc in the bag hoping to make it home to listen to it. 

When the day of craft hunting was over and I was in the car listening to stories about innovative ways to put antique milk jugs in AND outside the home, my girlfriend's little sister who was maybe 13 at the time was very curious to what CD I bought. My uncomfortable deflection of the question kept the feverish pace of my interrogation to a peer pressure inspired revealed. I begrudgingly handed her the bag, and upon looking inside she shrieked with  accusatory laughter. BUTTHOLE SURFERS?! This not only embarrassed my girlfriend at the time, but sent a red flag to the parents who judged, and analyzed me through the rear view mirror. I remember the look on their faces thinking that they were responsible for my poor life choices, and they would have to interact with my parents about the obvious gay pornography I was bringing into the house. I muttered something about them being a "good band", and my girlfriend valiantly trying to defend my choice in butt related music. It was a quiet ride home after her little sister was yelled at for embarrassing me. `

I'm sure her parents had a slightly new perspective of their daughters choice of boys, but I did go home and listen to the whole album in all of its silly glory. I still own and enjoy that very CD, and everytime I hear "who was in my room?" my inner sweaty awkward teenager smiles a little bit inside.   
7. Tool - Sober
 You could not deny the mystique and captivating power of Tool. The won over a cynical generation X with a cryptic music video, and taught us all that metal could be understated, but incredibly powerful. No one, but Maynard knows what the song is truly about, substance abuse, a lost love, religion, or all of the above. The meaning of the song carried many angst filled debates amongst me and other friends in school. I also recall Bevis and Butthead lampooning this video, and me actually turning on the cultural icons, thinking you just don't piss on something that amazing. 

I got into Tool more-so than any other band, at the time I didn't even appreciate them on the spiritual level that I do now. I bought this t-shirt in my freshman year in highschool:

  As embarrassing as it was to admit it, I didn't get the joke. It was the only shirt they sold at Camelot records with a Tool logo. I was called into the principal's office for the offensive shirt, and was forced to explain why it was inappropriate. I had no answer for them, I really didn't. As it went back and forth for what seemed like an age, I was instructed to wear it inside out, and to never wear the shirt again. 

Tool was such apart of my life up to present day, they inspired my tattoos, they helped me through bad times, they enhanced drug induced hazes, they motivated me while I worked out, and they were my favorite band to sing in the shower. I fucking love this band.


This was another word-of-mouth band for me from my dear friend Chris Ritter (RIP) when he brought over another mix tape perhaps from his older sister Debbie? I remember listening to Angry Chair a few nights earlier, but missing who sang it. There was no internet, so you just had to wait and get lucky it would come back. 

Hearing this song for the first time, again,  was almost like seeing religion. There was nothing that sounded like that at the time, they were so dirty, heavy, and it was like a audible spoon of dusty syrup. I bought the album shortly after, and was blown away by the whole thing. It was so glum, and pessimistic exposing the dangerous results of heroine abuse. I never heard so many songs either about suicide, or heroine in my life! 

To our younger Chux Chasers, Generation X is what we were branded as, and it was cool to pretend you hated everything, and everyone even if you didn't. I'm not sure how we turned it all around, but it was the culture at the time, and Alice In Chains fed that like a hungry pig.   


9. Primus - My Name is Mud

This was a rare Christmas gift from my Aunt Irene, they were pretty curious to what kind of horrible music I was into, but lulled into security from the claymation pig on the cover. My wanna be hip uncle wanted to "pop it in and jam out" but I avoided it by asking about The Best of DVE morning show and getting that played instead.

Primus definitely had, and continue to have their own brand of music. My name is mud had that signature electric bass slap that has yet to be replicated, and added such a unique gimmick to the song as a whole. It was so masterfully put together all wrapped in a silly false autobiography of a man that is 6'2" and rude as hell, and people who use incredible talent to do something silly is something I have always admired my whole life. 

One last memory is seeing this song performed at Woodstock 94, and seeing people losing their shit to this very song. I never saw this song as something that got people motivated to mosh, but seeing that in that very light, I realized how much they accomplished with one silly song. 

10. Alpha Team - Speed Racer
Somehow this song became what some people would describe as a "signature song" of mine in high school. I loved this song, and it was my gateway into the weird world of 90's rave culture for me, but somehow when this song was played anywhere I was synonymous with it.

I can't remember for the life of me where I heard this song first. I do remember the clean version being played at a Plum Aqua Teen Party, but somehow I already owned the CD, and was impressed that another human being liked this type of strange new music as I did. 

The "dirty" or "porn" version was not only cool because of the obvious moans and groans spliced into the song like Speed Racer was a porn all along, but it was alot longer than the regular version and much quicker.

Like I mentioned before the origins of me hearing this song for the first time, but it was something that stuck with me all throughout high school, until much later in life to where it sounds very dated now.


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