It’s the small things that matter

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Blink 182
Released: June 1999
Label: MCA Records
Cover art: MCA, with help from the band

Told by Emily Gibson

The album was released in 1999 but I don’t think I found it until maybe 2000-ish. I would have been in eighth grade, middle school, Littleton Colorado. I had a friend who had an older sibling who was into Blink. It was either their second or third official album.

This particular friend, her sister was older than we were. And she was a troublemaker. My mom didn’t love us hanging out at her house because her sister was there. She would have been a senior in high school. So she was the one who introduced me.

We were driving. She had a blue convertible, and “All the Small Things” came on. And I loved it. From the first time I heard it, there in the back seat. So I asked to borrow the CD. I snuck it home, because I knew we weren’t allowed to have it. Because I’d seen it in the Sam Goody record store and it had the “Explicit” label. That was like: forbidden.

There are three songs I love on that album: “What’s My Age Again?,” “Adam’s Song” and “All the Small Things.” Those three. They stuck with me. They opened me up to alternative music.

They were my gateway. They were a punk band. Until then, I’d listened to my parents’ music: the Eagles and the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt. And my personal music, my tween music, was Celine Dion – God love her I have every album – Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys – and then the one-offs like Chumbawamba and Smashmouth. Plus a little bit of Dave Matthews Band. But just really poppy, happy-go-lucky music. Like Aqua: “Barbie Girl.” After Blink I got into Green Day. I had started down this path.

What set them apart for me musically was the drums. Travis Barker. Absolutely a genius with his drumming. I just saw Blink live for the first time in July (2017); it was disappointing, because they’d replaced the guitarist. But Travis still sounded like he did 20 years ago. It’s very fast, very hard. He breaks a stick nearly every song, he’s drumming so hard. The level of ability to keep up with the riffs is really impressive, and just the athleticism, they make it a part of the show. Blink puts the drummer front and center.

I would say for the most part, even to this day, I like pretty much every type of music. Except for Screamo. And even then I can put up with it because my sister liked it. I listen to everything: folk, classical, hip-hop, Jay Z, Taylor Swift. My favorite bands are One Republic and Death Cab (for Cutie) and Imagine Dragons. I’m all over the place.

I’ve been told I’m what they call a social butterfly. I have a lot of different friend groups. I used to make myself into whomever they wanted me to be in that friend group; I don’t anymore because now I don’t give a shit. But back then the theater kids were my Blink 182 friend group. The punk rock, older crowd. Lincoln 6, Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’re the guys who’d occasionally wear eye-liner. They’d tell me their stories of drinking or, God forbid, drugs.

For my tenth birthday I got a boom-box. I’d listen to it in my bedroom or wherever I could. When I got older I got grounded a lot, which was funny because I wasn’t a bad child at all. One time I tried to sneak out and got caught halfway out. I was pushing boundaries. In high school, later, I just started listening in my car. My parents wouldn’t let me drive anywhere, because I was grounded, so I got them to agree to let me go sit in the car. Out in the driveway. I’d just sit out there and blaze music. To this day if I’m in a bad mood I’ll go do that, in my car, parked somewhere.

With Blink 182, it totally felt like I was getting away with something. And still to this day, I think that was one of the big themes of it. Blink has that breaking-the-rules quality. I was such a goody-two-shoes person. That Celine Dion song (“Sexy Sexy Lover”) that was so sexual? That was very scandalous to my parents. They’d make me skip it when I was in the room with them. That’s what we were dealing with. And then you go to Blink where they’re yelling obscenities. And the party song on the album is about a girl with “green eyes and long blonde hair, who’s not wearing underwear.”

But I think the most interesting was “What’s My Age Again?” That was the one I could most relate to. I remember specifically listening to it once when I was in high school. It’s talking about going back to freshman year. It’s saying “my friends say I should act my age.” I have memories of myself thinking, 23 is so far away. And it was such a shock a few years later, when I actually wrote in my diary – on my actual 23rd birthday – about the fact that I was the age they were talking about. And now I sit here at 30 and think: “What is my age again?

Emily Gibson works in media and public relations in Denver. When she’s not parked in her car jamming out, that is.