In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about songs we’ve discovered via TV shows.
I was 13 years old and angsty as shit in November 1994, making me the ideal My So-Called Life viewer. Like Angela Chase, I was a nerd yearning to be cool, hoping to have that burnout boy look my way, and trying to figure out a way to both stay true to myself and somehow turn my life into one of those teen-centric romantic dramas. None of this happened, of course, but I ate up every episode of My So-Called Life, recording them on VHS tapes and reading alt.tv message boards full of fan fiction and restless adolescent typos.
Any self-respecting fan of MSCL’s romantic “Jordan and Angela, will they or won’t they?” plot knows that the show’s most angst-packed and emotionally tumultuous episode is “Self-Esteem,” or the one where Jordan finally publicly acknowledges his relationship with Angela right as the episode ends, all scored by a Buffalo Tom track. Buffalo Tom, of course, was important to the episode, because Jordan and Tino were going to a concert, and blah blah blah—but, really, Buffalo Tom became important to fans not because of who the Boston band was or what its songs sounded like, but because that was the song we heard when Angela and Jordan went public. The song “Late At Night” became synonymous with catharsis, with the exact moment that you get that fairytale ending and that high school comeuppance. Granted, Angela and Jordan’s romance would later fall somewhat to shit, but we didn’t know that during “Self-Esteem.” Then, it was perfect. It was what we all wanted. It was validation.
I still can’t hear “Late At Night” without getting a little wistful, whether over my own adolescent plight or the fact that Jared “Jordan Catalano” Leto appears to be a total shitbag now. Buffalo Tom hit it out of the park on that track, and thanks to My So-Called Life, “Late At Night” will hold a big, angsty place in my heart until the day I die.