As this week has gone on, I think I’m getting a full taste of what I actually got myself into. Part of me always hoped I would have a lot to say week to week, part of me was worried I would spend too much time living in the past for 40 weeks. For the most part, I’ve had the time to say what I wanted to say, but never felt like what I was saying was fake or forced. But these past few days, I’ve written a post a day. And they haven’t been fluff. It’s been an interesting work/life/post balance equation that I don’t think I’ve quite nailed yet. But you’re not here to listen to me gripe about the writing, you’re here to listen to me finish my thoughts on Stellastarr.
I first heard Stellastarr on the radio, back when My Coco was in regular rotation on our local alternative station. I liked the song, but it was really on a whim that I picked up their self-titled debut album. It was a classic case of getting more than I expected. I expected a fun romp of an album. I expected some peppy, upbeat alternative anthems that I could pull up from time to time and feel nostalgic for a time or a place. I got that, of course. Songs like Jenny and No Weather had that upbeat feel I was looking for, and I listened to it so much that memories did get tied to it. What I didn’t expect was the emotional depth of the album. Songs like In the Walls presented a more thoughtful and mature sound than I had planned. I remember listening to the album one night, driving home from getting cigarettes. It was dark, and it was raining a little bit. The road I was on was dark and winding. The song Untitled came on. It was a haunting melody, and I finally took the times to listen to the lyrics. It was so beautiful and sad, but with twinges of hope sprinkled in. And he sang it with so much emotion. I ended up getting home before the song ended, but sat in the car and finished it, then listened to it again. Somehow, it hit home in a way. I wasn’t in the same situation as the singer, but I could identify with his emotions. Then Pulp Song came on and I was jarred out of it.
When the second album, Harmonies for the Haunted, came out, I was hoping for more of the same, and wasn’t let down. Songs like Lost in Time and On My Own still struck those emotional chords just as well. I went to see them in concert about a week after the album came out, and was delighted that the crowd was just as into it as I was. Then they did On My Own live, and frontman Shawn Christensen was literally on the ground as he sang, pushing every bit of emotion into it that he had. Not only did the crowd feel the same way about their music that I did, the band actually did. They weren’t just songs for songs sake, they were something more.
I saw them again after the release of their third and final album. They were just as good, and just as emotional. They’ve been on hiatus ever since, though it is probably more accurate to say that, at this point, we’ve heard the last of Stellastarr. I’m sad, and I’m not, though. For as good as their first two albums were, their third album didn’t resonate as much with me. I worry that if they had gone on, if they had forced it, it would have shown and my last memories of them would have been negative rather than positive.
Stellastarr, to me, is like a friend that I no longer have. I’ve written, to date, four times about friends who were important to me who aren’t in my life anymore for various reasons. Those won’t be the only ones, there will be more. But anyone who doesn’t have similar stories is lying. We all have those stories. There are people in our lives that are with us for the long haul, supporting actors in the story of our lives. Then there are characters that come and go, the special guest stars and the extras. Some of them have one or two lines at the right moment, some of them have huge story arcs devoted to them. They play their parts, then they walk off of the stage. Similarly, we are those bit parts and featured performers in other people’s stories. Stellastarr reminds me of that,
I encountered them at the right time in my life. A year or two before and I wouldn’t have understood them. A year or two later and I would have dismissed them. They were fun. They were emotional. They were entertaining. They taught me different ways to look at things and think about things. They were there with me at work sometimes. They were with me in the car on long road trips and quick trips to the store. We were really close for a few years. They went away for a while, and I kept looking for news from them. They came back. They had changed. I had changed. We tried to pretend it was just like it was, but it wasn’t. They were moving in one direction, I was moving in another. We parted ways. We carried on. I still have the memories, untarnished. I still think of them from time to time. I put on one of their albums, and it’s like looking through an old photo album. If you didn’t know I was talking about a band, you would have thought I was talking about a person, until I broke the illusion in the last line.
I regret none of the people I’ve met in my life. I regret some of my actions and inactions with them, but never them in particular. Everybody played a part, and was what I needed in a time and a place. When things ended, I may have lacked the perspective at the time, but have it as I look back. Stellastarr is a constant reminder of keeping that perspective. I can whine about them not putting out any more music. I can complain that they should have kept going, kept me entertained and thoughtful. But they played their part, and I look back on it all fondly. And I still have the music, and I still love the music. And nothing will take that away. But the reality is that they had to move on, and so did I. They had other passions to pursue, I had other music to discover. I think I’ve made the most out of the time since.