Last Wednesday, June 27th, I found out that someone I grew up with had unexpectedly passed away. Suffice to say, my posts on “The Social Network” have been a bit emotional and delved into what happened, my sadness at his passing, and what he meant to me as a friend and mentor. Allan Feather was many things to many people, but to me he was a true friend. He was responsible for introducing me to “alternative music” in the early 90’s and took me to my very first show – an unknown Gin Blossoms opening for Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Trocodero in Philadelphia. I wanted to create a short post for my site that I can revisit as the years go by. I wanted to explore some of the songs and artists that Allan and I bonded over. One thing that Allan taught me was that it was OK to love underground bands and still love sports. Does that sound silly to you? In the 90’s, it was a real thing. A struggle. A battle. He made me laugh, he made me believe in myself, he made me experience nostalgia (something fake punks fight with all their might). And last week, he made me cry. This week too, in fact. And I think that’s OK. This post is for you Allan Feather.
Live – Pain Lies on the Riverside. Picture me as a barely 15-year-old hanging out with a cool guy in his early 20’s, listening to the first cassette by Live (technically their 2nd album, but no one could find the Public Affection album back then). These guys were all 18 or 19 singing about faith, doubt, and spirituality. I honestly don’t think they’ve ever topped Mental Jewelry. We played this tape over and over in Allan’s beat up Corolla. 4 guys from Pennsylvania singing their hearts out to 2 other guys from Pennsylvania (or vice versa). In a bitter twist of fate, I saw one of the first US Live reunion shows on Friday, June 29th. They were amazing and I could imagine Allan noting the symmetry in the situation. They played this song with passion, and I sang with tears in my eyes.
Toad the Wet Sprocket – Walk On the Ocean. Part of growing up in the Philly ‘burbs is the summer trek to the Jersey Shore. I was particularly blessed (and still am), as my family owns property on Long Beach Island, NJ. This song always reminds me of home. When I was 15 I had just gotten busted smoking pot, was on an eternal grounding, and played this tape over and over. Allan convinced my parents that it’d be OK for me to go to this show with him (along with another guy). My very first rock show. Amazingly, there was a mosh pit and singer Glen Phillips talked about the pointlessness of it – “like a nuclear war”, he said. That made an impression on Allan, as he talked about it quite a bit after the show was over.
Gin Blossoms – Until I Fall Away. That night at the Toad the Wet Sprocket show there was an unknown, unsigned band opening. In fact, they were giving away their very first cassette single. The world would know who these guys were just 18 months later. Allan and I were impressed with them that night and played that cassette over and over on the way home. It remained (and will remain) one of my favorite stories relating to my adventures with Allan.
Rush – 2112. I don’t think I could write about Allan without mentioning his beloved Rush. I’m the worst kind of Rush fan – casual. I like them, appreciate their talents, and don’t listen them that often. But in the house where Allan grew up I watched him, his brother, and friends play air guitar to this album and it made an impression on me. To this day, I can’t play this album without thinking of Allan. It is also my favorite Rush album, obviously. It is the perfect bridge from prog to metal. Classic.
The Smiths – Girlfriend in a Coma. I attended my first (and only) Morrissey show in ’92 with Allan on the Your Arsenal tour. Honestly, it sounds cool to anyone now but at the time – he played for 60 minutes, no encore. The openers weren’t very good. I have never been able to convince myself to pay for a Morrissey show again. I was with Allan and some of his friends connected to his girlfriend at the time. I have a vivid memory of Allan dancing on a table at Taco Bell and me throwing all of my change from my paper route money at him. He was pretty annoyed with me. Ha! We played The Smiths the entire way home and accepted the show for what it was. These days I prefer The Smiths and Johnny Marr solo over Morrissey anyway. We were visionaries!
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion. Allan did lose his religion at age 23. I lost mine at age 24. We grew up together in the same congregation. We got each other. I saw tears in his eyes when he would sing this song, and I totally got it with every ounce of my soul. I remember Allan was disappointed when this album didn’t rock out – he was even more disappointed in the follow-up (at first). Imagine, the two most iconic albums of R.E.M.’s career and Allan Feather was bitching about them. That’s why we loved him. And he wasn’t wrong, really. This song will remind me of Allan until the day I die.
The world lost a great man on June 26, 2018. I sure wish I had told him these memories before he passed away. That’s what I’m taking away from this experience a bit – to appreciate your friends. Call them, tell them you love them. Does it feel corny? Good, pick up the phone anyway. A Facebook post can only go so far. In fact, in the wake of recent celebrity suicides I posted a heartfelt message for anyone who is experiencing pain to contact me. But will they? I am certain – now – that we have to be proactive and care for our friends in need. Allan Feather was a son, husband, friend, and a genuine guy. And I’ll miss him. RIP.