Perfect Sound Forever

GIN BLOSSOMS


The Greatest Song I've Ever Heard
By Pete Crigler
(October 2013)


Almost twenty years ago, when I was about seven years old, I used to watch a lot of VH1 and MTV. In fact you can say I watched both religiously. About that time, I was into Primus and Faith No More and was just beginning a love affair with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. But one day on VH1 in the winter of 1994, I saw a video and heard a song that just took my breath away. The band was Gin Blossoms and the song was "Found Out About You." And so began my life-long attachment to this song.

The song was written by the band's founding guitarist, the extremely troubled Doug Hopkins and by the time the album the song came off of New Miserable Experience was released in the spring of 1992, he had been kicked out of the band due to his chronic alcoholism. By the time "Found Out About You" had been released as a single in late 1993, Doug Hopkins had committed suicide by gunshot but the band persevered. By this time, they'd already had a smash hit with "Hey Jealousy," another Hopkins track and the band were one of the most successful ‘alternative' bands in the country.

From the first time I heard the song, I was hooked. Back then, it was a lot easier to suck me with a great lyric or riff but I've become a lot pickier as I've gotten older but the song instantly took a hold of me and refused to let go. As I entered middle school and started discovering punk rock, the song stayed with me in the background. There were times that I would forget the song because we didn't have access to YouTube and MP3s in 1998 and 1999. Every once in a while, I would hear the song on the radio and immediately stop whatever I was doing and just listen to pure musical bliss.

As the years went on and my musical taste began to change, the song was still there even if the Gin Blossoms weren't anymore, having disbanded in 1997 so the other members could pursue other projects. It was around this time that a lot of the other bands from Arizona that had been signed in the wake of the Blossoms' success like the Pistoleros, Dead Hot Workshop and The Refreshments were also disbanding and going the slow way of the buffalo. But the Blossoms stuck around because the songs were just so damn catchy. In 1999, even though they'd only released two major-label albums, their record label released a greatest hits record because there were so many hits to pick from. As the new millennium dawned, the song stayed in the background of my mind until I started making mix CD's. At first, because my laptop was so crappy, I had to get my neighbor to make them for me because he had all the technology and I didn't. So I would give him a list of what I wanted and he'd put them in order. The first disc I had made, track one was "Found Out About You," and the first time I listened to this disc and heard the song again, I was in absolute heaven and thus began the next chapter in the story.

By 2006, I had been in college for two years and was getting a brand spanking new laptop with all the trimmings on it. That meant that I could download whatever song I wanted and nobody would be the wiser. When I came to school, my roommate hooked me up with LimeWire and I immediately began downloading everything I could get my hands on, including "Found Out About You" and many other Gin Blossoms tracks. I had about half a dozen songs by the band but all I listened to was "Found Out." I know I listened to the song at least five times a week, now the only other band I really did that with at the time was Faith No More. Around that same time, the Blossoms had come back from their breakup with a reconfigured lineup and a new album, Major Lodge Victory and they hit the road that summer but didn't come anywhere near where I was. I knew one day I would see them and I would hear "Found Out" in all its glory.

As I graduated from college, I became more and more obsessed with the song. I had to hear it at least once every few days; it just was one of those songs that I absolutely loved but here's the crux of the whole thing: I've never been able to fully explain or understand why I love the damn song so much. To most people, it's just a simple little pop song about betrayal but it just has a great riff and a chorus that could go on for days in my opinion. But a couple years ago, for shits and giggles, I put together a list of my top 100 favorite tracks, and the top 3 were Anthrax "Belly of the Beast," Boston "More Than a Feeling" and "Found Out About You." That's always been my answer whenever anyone asks me what my favorite song is and probably will always be.

When I got my first iPod, I immediately uploaded the song and began listening to it constantly. Around the same time, a new radio station came out of Richmond, Virginia, near my hometown. It was called 103.7 The River and they played music that I grew up with: old alternative rock like Cracker, Better Than Ezra and Live and also played new stuff like Daughtry, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon. They very quickly worked their way onto my radar when I began hearing "Found Out" a lot so I continually tuned in and was very often rewarded with the song.

As the years went on, the Blossoms continued playing around as well. In 2010, they released their most recent studio album, the oddly titled No Chocolate Cake, which didn't sell that well but they continued to draw in crowds who wanted to hear the hits. Around this time, I had also turned the song into my one of my favorite ringtones and took great glee whenever my phone would ring and blast the song out.

Cut to 2013 and the Gin Blossoms were touring the summer shed circuit on the "Under the Sun" tour, a trek created by Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray designed to bring ‘90s bands together with the fans that still loved that type of music. On the bill were Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon and Fastball. By early August, they had rolled into Richmond's Innsbrook After Hours, a rinky dink little venue designed for these types of package tours. My mother, who is also a big fan of Gin Blossoms, went to the show and knew exactly what we wanted to hear.

After sitting through a thoroughly underwhelming set by Fastball, Vertical Horizon took the stage, played all the hits from their 1999 breakthrough and departed. By the time Gin Blossoms had taken the stage, the crowd had grown proportionally larger and the roar was almost deafening. Taking the stage, the members of the band looked much older than the last time I'd seen them and they had a new drummer and the bassist from Fastball was filling in for original bassist Bill Leen who was M.I.A. Frontman Robin Wilson while lacking the same amount of hair he had in the ‘90's, still sounded amazing and was still able to hit all the notes that makes their catalogue so cool and different. Playing a newer song first was met with some enthusiasm from the crowd but when they started playing songs like "Til I Hear It from You," "Hey Jealously" and "Alison Road," the crowd was getting happier and happier. Then Robin Wilson introduced guitarist Scott Johnson, who had replaced Doug Hopkins way back in 1992 and told the crowd there was something he wanted the crowd to hear. With that, they launched into "Found Out About You."

Immediately upon hearing the opening riff, I had the biggest fit because I realized I could finally knock something like this off of my bucket list. The song was a bit slower but it still sounded as amazing as ever and even after twenty years of singing the song, Robin Wilson proved that night that he can still sing the everloving hell out of the song. Closing out their set with a couple of tracks from their sophomore record, 1996's Congratulations I'm Sorry, they proved to be the best band of the night and one of the coolest experiences I've ever had at a show.

Over the years, several bands that came out about the same time as Gin Blossoms have withered away on the vine as they've made shitty records and turned their backs on their fans. But the Gin Blossoms, through thick and thin, break ups and reunions, have stuck around to ensure their legacy is built to last, which it most certainly has. No word on the horizon about a new studio album but in between festival dates and whatever shows they have coming up, new songs are being written and who knows, maybe one day they'll come out with a song even greater than "Found Out About You." Until then, we'll have the song to remind us of our youth, good times and bad, love and loss and everything else that a great rock song can remind you of.

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