Never Wanted to Be Cool

from by Thick Red Wine

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about

i wrote this song in college one night after spending a long time thinking about how the moments that define our lives become so lost in our personal narratives. sure sometimes they just come back to you and you realize “man that time i got hit in the face during baseball practice probably changed the entire course of events for my whole life.”

but i also think you have to dig for them sometimes. carefully exposing these types of forgotten truths has always been an interest for me in my writing and my music.

this is also the song of mine that people have responded to the most here in austin. as a songwriter, i think you learn a lot about your songs from people’s reactions.

i started to dislike playing it too much because many people thought of it as a funny song and called me a funny songwriter—which is a role i don’t feel completely comfortable in. (i responded to this sentiment through the last song on the album)

but yeah i think people sort of miss the point of what i do with words and music if they hear the song and just remember a funny story about beating a kid up. the song is just a long winded defense of my belief that friendship is extremely important. i hold my friends to high standards. the people who are close to me know that i care about them more than i care about music or money or girls or being cool.

it’s still a very honest song in the actual story part of it too. i probably did hit my peak of popularity in grade school. i did get into yo-yos late. i loved origami and basketball and r&b music.

when i originally had the idea for the song, i was going to include a verse about the first time i met one of my best friends in middle school. his name was brian trout. he got made fun of by the cool kids for liking dragonball z during the first day of class. i sat next to him. because fuck them.

i also remember my friend vince getting picked on because his basketball jersey was the slightly cheaper version with bigger holes.

things like this stick with me i guess. i’m sure at first they made me very angry. that nice kids had to deal with that type of bullshit. but i think it eventually made me sad and closed off. the world seemed like a cruel place. i held onto my friends, the normal ones and shy ones and the assholes and the weird ones. i didn’t care about getting attention. in fact i sort of preferred to see the beauty in floating under the radar for the rest of my life.

in any case, the song is a fitting introduction to my music and the way my personality seeps through the words i write. there’s a reason it’s the first song and the name of the album.

lyrics

I hit my peak of popularity back when I was in grade school
Everyone wanted to be my friend; I thought that I was so cool
Some girls in my class were always trying to spell out my last name
W-o-j-c-i-e-c-h-o-w-s-k I would hear them say

Now I was just being myself, I had my jock jams on repeat
I loved Goosebumps, origami, basketball and R&B
But now pro-wrestling is what I loved most, so did my best friend
Cooler kids than us had yo-yos and they traded Pokémen

And back in kindergarten Bobby was just a kid who ate glue
But by the 5th grade well he was that kid who everybody knew
And during recess one day he came up to me and my best friend
He said why would someone like you hang out with losers just like him?

Well I bet Bobby never makes it out of jersey
If there's a god, let her show him some mercy
Because I had not known
People could be so cruel
But I knew I never wanted to be cool

So then bobby acted like me and him were made of the same stuff
Trying to be some macho 5th grade ass like he was tough and dangerous
When I told him to just go away, I had not realized
My best friend's face had turned a wounded red, tears dripping from his eyes

So I chased Bobby's skinny little sad and slow misshapen body
Around the recess yard like dogs chase prey; well that's how I chased Bobby
Tried to slither underneath a gap in our chain link fence
But I was fast enough to grab him by the ends of his pant legs

I pulled him back out to the playground where I lifted him right up
I power bombed him right down on the grass, his body made a thud
And so they sent me to the principal, office 223
I said I’m sorry Mr. Kelly, I don't know what came over me

He said you're lucky; I’m just givin' you a warning
Think on your wrongs kid, come and see me in the morning
And I will always recall
That afternoon at school
'Cos I learned I never wanted to be cool

And I know there will be Bobby’s in this world to make me mad
But you know I didn't really hurt him, in the end is it so bad
That for a moment I just wanted to be Stone Cold Steve Austin
Piledrive him down to the ground, then throw him in a coffin

Sometimes we change so damn fast, we forget moments that defined us
All the friends we can't remember, all our past selves hide behind us
Till one day you stop to think about your life and start to wonder
When this bitter world first stung you kind of like a Stone Cold Stunner

And now I have gotten older, it has been over ten years
I am not a violent person and I don't have too many fears
But there is still not one thing I would not do for my best friends
All the Bobby’s in this world will never sever me from them

'Cos I keep them close, like we're all a family
And this song might not win me any Grammys
But I still sing it proud
As an exception to the rule
I’m glad I never wanted
I never wanted
I never wanted to be cool

credits

from Never Wanted to Be Cool, released February 26, 2013

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Thick Red Wine Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

anti-folk-punk-indie-rock noisemaker. supporter of DIY communities, marginalized voices, burrito diets

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