FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Fall Out Boy ‘From Under The Cork Tree’

High school wasn’t the greatest time of my life. I was the girl who seemed to either blend into the background or was something for all the “popular” kids to laugh at. While I was mostly the punchline of a joke whenever public speaking was an assessment requirement or we were forced into competing in some kind of sport, there was another thing that caused me to be the subject of many discussions throughout the early years of high school.

I had a crush on a boy who had was on a very different level on the social ladder.

A lot of people thought he was way out of my league; which is something he didn’t hesitate to show me on more than one occasion. Regardless of whether I agreed with them or not, I wasn’t allowed to date until I finished school. I was stuck with this crippling crush and the fantasy that came from it.

I didn’t have many friends in the early years of high school, so I turned to music to cope with my frustration, and that’s when I found Fall Out Boy; a band that will always have a special place in my heart. Their world, consisting of Patrick Stump’s iconic voice, confusing lyrics and long-winded song titles, seemed to help me forget the regrets of the past.

From Under The Cork Tree was probably the one I listened to the most. In an interview back in 2006, Pete Wentz has said it is about “the anxiety and depressions that goes along with looking at your own life”. This is something the album definitely helped me deal with.

In their music video for Dance Dance, they portrayed themselves as four dorky boys who just didn’t care about what anyone thought. This was something I admired. Unfortunately, I could never do that. At the time I was too afraid of what people would say about me.

While he always told other people that he didn’t like me, he never actually told me. Thanks to some of the lyrics in Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner, I believed that, maybe, the reason why he never confronted me was because he was sensitive towards my feelings and didn’t want to upset me.

“I’ll keep my jealousy close/ ‘Cause it’s all mine/ And if you say this makes you happy/ Then I’m not the only one lying.”

He wasn’t. He just liked to use me as a story to tell.

During this time, I learnt just how powerful our brains are. I had blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. In my head, he could do no wrong. I had created the illusion that, even if I knew he didn’t like me back, one day he could when we grew in maturity. The thought seems ridiculous now, but to a naive thirteen year old girl, it motivated me to let the snowball roll.

If only I had listened to Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year more closely.

“The best part of ‘believe’ is the ‘lie’/ I hope you sing along and you steal a line/ I need to keep you like this in my mind/ So give in or just give up.”

I never appreciated Of All The Gin Joints In The World like I do now, thanks to this line; “I used to waste my time dreaming of being alive (now I only waste it dreaming of you).

I’ve realised how much time I wasted, not only just dreaming of something that would never happen, but also hating myself. By talking to me all the time and then suddenly ignoring my existence made me think I wasn’t good enough to talk to him. This feeling grew when he’d rub his relationships with other girls in my face. I became insecure about what I looked like and who I was.

A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me is still my favourite Fall Out Boy song to date. It has the perfect upbeat tune to dance around your room to and lyrics that beg you to sing along. And I did. It was like a stress release that just made me live in the moment and forget who I was for a few minutes. This was the only time in my teenage years that I felt free.

As I pumped the loud music through my headphones, I disappeared into the world inside my head. The loud drums crashing and guitars roaring portrayed the anger I felt towards him and the way he treated me. Stump’s voice was somewhat soothing to me. It has that a certain quality that draws you in, giving you something to concentrate on besides that sinking feeling in your chest. Pop punk as a genre was perfect to me. It was soft enough not to overwhelm me with loud sounds and allow me to concentrate on the lyrics, yet strong enough to express exactly what I was feeling.

I will admit looking back, it didn’t always help. Sometimes, it helped fuel the fantasy, acting as a soundtrack to my hopes and dreams. I’m glad to say that it was mostly just an escape; a place to go where someone cared and I felt like I meant something to someone for once. The strength and pure emotion within their music kept me going when I was down, showing me that there are still some beautiful things in this world worth sticking around for. While living in a fantasy is never a good idea, it taught me an important lesson about how to approach a crush and motivated me to actually do something about it the next time it happened.

I never thought about him after school finished. To me, it was ancient history. But after recently having my heart broken, the feelings of self-loathing came flooding back. I had put my high school self in a box, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, the lock had been smashed. I turned back to this album to see if my old coping mechanism would work while I picked up the pieces.

No one can make you feel like you don’t matter. You do. There are people in this world who do love you, and will show you that. You just need to look hard enough to see them.