In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, we’re asking our writers to talk about a song that always reminds them of their own arrested development.
My wife and I are in the process of getting rid of our car; where we live and work in Chicago, we rarely have reason to drive, so we’re basically paying the city to give us a parking ticket every two to three months. Even though we no longer get much use out of the vehicle (which is also slowly falling apart) it’s still a tough decision for a number of reasons, beginning with the sense that forsaking the automobile is a betrayal of our Michigan roots. This summer, we’ll be without a car for the first time since we were issued our licenses—more crucially, we’re giving up the only socially acceptable place for gargling our way through modern-rock radio hits of the 1990s.
Stone Temple Pilots’ “Plush” is playing on a radio station in your hometown right now, and if it’s not, it will be within the next 45 minutes. This non-scientific conjecture is based on the fact that, as I’ve decreased the time I’ve spent behind the wheel over the last two years, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard “Plush” on each of those less-frequent car trips. The song’s playlist persistence has given way to a hilarious (subjectively), juvenile (objectively) game between my wife and me, which involves halting on any station playing “Plush” and mimicking Scott Weiland’s Brillo-throated lead vocals for the remainder of the track. “Plush” just might be the perfect sing-along-in-the-car song, because a) you don’t need to know the words, b) you know the melody because it’s insanely simple and you’ve heard it hundreds of times in the last 21 years, and c) the modulation in the last chorus provides a cathartic push that cuts through even the bleariest-eyed highway hypnosis. It’s essentially the Adams family’s marble-mouthed answer to the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in Wayne’s World, a throwback to the giddy enthusiasm of being a new driver. And it almost always ends with one of us saying some variation of “It’s a good thing you like me, because I don’t know who else would put up with that.” It’s a goofy, personal thing, one we can’t very well re-create on public transit. If the auto industry has given me anything, it’s the chance to reconnect with my inner 16-year-old by trying to sing an entire mid-tempo rock number without moving my lips. When I give up the car next month, I’ll be giving up that connection as well.