Every single time I go to a party, I always overhear some variation of the same conversation.
We should put on some Sublime. I just feel like chillin’ out.
Woah! You like Sublime too?
Love it! Did you know the lead singer died right after he had a kid?
Yeah, it’s so sad. They only got to like put out three albums or something.
I know! That dude’s voice just mellows me out. We should see if someone will put on “Santeria.”
Will someone please explain to me any of the following: A) Why everyone who likes Sublime assumes they’re the only person in a thirty mile radius who has ever heard of the band? B) Why Sublime is treated like auditory Valium? C) Why they inspire such reverence when they’re just a poor man’s Sugar Ray?
Let me get something straight: I don’t dislike Sublime. They’re okay. Every few months, I’ll put on their self-titled album and sing along. “What I Got” is genuinely a beautiful little song, and the LP has a nice cohesive flow, almost a fluidity where each track just rolls into the next. But come’on people. It’s not The White Album. It’s not even The Blue Album. It’s a slightly-above average collection of marginally catchy riffs with goofy, sometimes downright stupid and incomprehensible lyrics. The fact Bradley Nowell shot heroin one too many times in a failed attempt to deal with life before the CD came out doesn’t make it any better. Guess what? Heath Ledger’s dead and 10 Things I Hate About You is still a nice little teen comedy–not fucking Citizen Kane.
It probably strikes you as a little strange I’m penning a diatribe about a band I have no real problems with, but think of this piece as more of a mission to get to the bottom of a decade old mystery. I’m practically searching for Atlantis here. I need answers, and I think I’m entitled to them. Just call me Miss Marple. So, bring the Butler, the old man’s mistress, and the brother-in-law and assemble ‘em around the refurbished mahogany dinner table. British accents are preferred but not required.
Let’s examine the I’m-the-only-Sublime-fan hypothesis first. I suspect the average enthusiast who feels this way has a lot in common, at least in mindset, with certain Nick Drake fans. Nick Drake is relatively famous. Most people who fancy themselves as hardcore music fans are well aware of his three albums. But, strangely, many of them still feel like they’ve discovered a diamond in the rough, and they zealously inflate their own elitism by informing other less distinguished music fans of his greatness. Could this perceived superiority be driving the Sublime conversations? Maybe.
What about the auditory Valium? Why does Sublime inspire white faux-thugs to mellow out and chill? Well, I suspect many of them feel like Bradley Nowell has street cred. He’s a ruffian; he died livin’. So, when his soothing voice comes on, they all instinctively choose that moment to relax and reflect. After all, even the most hardened pot dealer needs an occasional break from his threatening rhetoric to sprawl out on the couch and ponder what it all means. His crooning about riots, titties, and knife fights is largely irrelevant. Maybe.
What about the poor man’s Sugar Ray accusation? Well, in all honesty, this may have been a little bit of an overstatement on my part, but I really think the comparison holds up better than a balsa wood bridge. Both bands, at some point during their careers, had darker undertones, but only when most of that was stripped away, exposing a more pop-friendly, almost happy core did they really find their niche. Maybe.
I don’t know. I think I’m right. Maybe? I don’t get it. I’ve already admitted as much, but I think this theory would at least advance past the planning stages of a thesis pitch. If you have any information as to why Sublime is so revered, plus speak now, or hold your breath, at the expense of my always assuming I’m right about everything.