Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The way that the song "Teenage Poem" moves us is special. It's that simple. It's a standout, plain and easy. It's in one of those rare ways, getting to us with words, with subtle melodies, with a coming of age story, with groove that feels like a southern California skyline during high tide, when the first glass of wine is starting to settle in, with a penetrating guitar stroke and with a fucking story that evolves and gets us into a refreshing bit of nostalgia, even if we can't relate. We can pretend. We can act as if we're one of the stoners in the song or we're one of the lovelorn kids that Lonnie Walker lead singer Brian Corum introduces us to, amidst the bending strings and the talks of prose and horny girls and boys. We can be invested in the shady nights going on underneath the noses of countless parents, with their children off, doing who knows what and building themselves their first identities - the scary and unwritten future that we'll someday have to experience ourselves should we decide have babies of our own. Corum sings of sneaking out of the house and of a 15-year-old girl discovering herself, wearing high heels, low-cut shirts and getting out there in the world as someone she takes to be a woman, or what she imagines should be taken as a women. She feels it and all the boys looking at her - here with the backdrop of a summer vacation sort of temperature and pumping hearts throwing messy rushes of hyper, sexed up blood through all of the boys with pulses - feel it too. It's as natural as grapes ripening, but that doesn't mean they're ready to be smashed and turned into a wine suitable for any discerning palette. Corum, whose band hails from Raleigh, N.C., sings, "She goes to parties/Goes to shows/She likes to think she is full-grown/Boys, lay off your teenage poems/And leave the horny girls alone/Cause she can't control where his mind's going…/Girls, step off your teenage throne and leave your horny boys alone." We hear this growing up story as an unavoidable way of the land and it's double-sided, a rite of passage that - if it's already been tackled and put away - is an unenviable rite that no one wants to go back to. Or is there something there that lures us like a siren's song, should our adult lives not unfolded as we would have liked them to have? Lonnie Walker has written a song that makes us wonder if we'd go back. It sounds like we could discover pleasant tidings in our old days, if we could just get back there - back to those days when we weren't overweight, when we had young and pretty breasts and when we were attractive to many, not just one or two. The mood of "Teenage Poem" is deceptive that way - a warning on one end and a tantalizing temptation on the other end - a chance for our inside stories to gain more shape and complication before they slip away for good.