10 Years of Everything In Transit

I’ve been trying to write this post since my copy of the Everything In Transit 10-year anniversary vinyl package showed up on my doorstep, a little over a week ago. It’s really hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since the first time I heard Everything In Transit. I was 15 years old and everything felt weird and uncomfortable and like I couldn’t fully control it. I first heard that album without fully comprehending everything that went into its creation — all I knew was that the guy who’d been the face of Something Corporate was now the face of Jack’s Mannequin, and I loved the music from the second I heard the opening verse and chorus of “Holiday from Real”.

Flash forward to the present day: I’m now 25 years old and everything is still kind of weird, but it’s less uncomfortable and I’m getting better at learning to accept what I can and cannot control/change. Over the last decade, Everything In Transit has steadily become the first (and sometimes the only) album I go to when I’m feeling lost or frustrated or confused. I played it on repeat all throughout high school, most especially when I was applying to colleges 3,000 miles from where I’d grown up. I listened to it when I moved into a dorm at one of those schools and knew no one and didn’t feel like I’d ever make friends. I listened to it on blast in my car when I commuted to and from a dead-end job while trying to decide what to do about a relationship that was ridiculously unhealthy. I listened to it on multiple trips up and down New England to visit my partner, back when we were just friends and then when we became more than that. I listened to it while I moved all of my belongings to Rhode Island. I listened to it last year as I struggled with financial woes and I’ve listened to it quite a lot this year, as I’ve started my career over from scratch and started to get on top of my debt.

Everything In Transit is an album that, to me, is timeless. It’s a break-up album, but it’s also an album about growing up and starting over and trying again even when things seem like they’ll never, ever work out. It’s an album that’s simultaneously joyous and sad, packed to the brim with imagery and emotion that all underscore the same basic idea: the story isn’t over yet, no matter how quickly it seems to be approaching its end. It’s a coming of age story, but one that doesn’t restrict itself as much as you might expect.

In August I was lucky enough to see Andrew McMahon perform with his latest musical project, Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness, at a free outdoor show on the waterfront in Providence. He played several tracks from Everything In Transit during the show, and played even more during the soundcheck prior to the show. I didn’t get the chance to meet or chat with him, though I would have told him that the line he forgot from “Bruised” during the soundcheck (So read your books but stay out late / some nights, some nights / and don’t think that you can’t stop by the bar) is one I’ve considered getting as a tattoo time and time and time again. I also likely would have cried, because Andrew McMahon is someone who’s inspired me for years.

In 2010, I saw Something Corporate play a half-hour reunion set at Bamboozle New Jersey and it felt like a genuinely life-changing moment. When McMahon played the opening chords to “Konstantine”, it seemed like everyone in the audience was as deeply effected as me. The friend I was with, who’d never heard of SoCo, was genuinely confused by how many people were crying, and it was such a surreal moment in so many ways. That was five years ago and when I think back to that, it’s strange to realize how far I’ve come as a person, mentally, emotionally, physically, and even geographically. Things have changed so much. Conceptually, five or 10 years doesn’t seem like a very long time, but it is. It really, really is. The person I am now is very different from the person I was at age 15 or 20. The only thing that’s remained constant, to be completely honest, is my passion for certain things, like music.

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The Everything In Transit 10th anniversary edition is stunning. The packaging is beautiful, the dark blue marble vinyl is beautiful, the autographed stitch-bound lyric book is beautiful. I teared up the second I opened it and continued to cry as I read McMahon’s letter at the beginning of the lyric book. I cried when I listened to the album on vinyl for the first time, a day later, with my partner while I cooked dinner for us both. Basically I’m a big teary-eyed mess, especially when it comes to this album. I spent at least an hour sitting on the floor of my living room just reading through the lyric book, hearing the songs in my head that I’ve been singing along to for the last decade. The artwork is gorgeous. The vinyl has weight to it that is both literal and figurative: there are two discs in thick packaging, but there’s also so much history imbued in it that holding the record feels Important in a way I can’t totally describe.

Every time I listen to Everything In Transit, it feels like the first time. That’s not something I can say for most albums — for whatever reason, I have the same visceral response to the lyrics and melodies of this album that I did 10 years ago, every time I hear it. I never get sick of these tracks. I’m a massive fan of everything Andrew McMahon has ever done, with any of his bands or projects, but I think Everything In Transit might actually be his masterpiece. I’m lucky to have this record in my life and I’m even luckier that my partner ordered the anniversary vinyl for me when I panicked because I couldn’t afford it but desperately, desperately wanted it.

There’s a lot to unpack regarding my connection to this album, and I don’t know that a blog post is the right place to try and do that. I couldn’t not write anything, though, so hopefully this is at least coherent enough to paint some sort of picture of the importance of Everything In Transit. If you’ve never heard this album, take advantage of the hubbub surrounding it for the anniversary and take a listen. If it’s been a while since you last heard it, I encourage you to do the same thing. You might be surprised by what you hear and how it makes you feel.

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