Last March, when I met the Knight, I had a problem.
Well, I had a few. Too many to list here, actually. It was a dark time.
But I'm ashamed even to admit my biggest one.
It was…a Fall Out Boy problem.
Not the kind most people have — the understandable kind, the moral and ethical problem with listening to such music — but the kind where I couldn't stop listening.
It was the only thing I could play on my iPod to get my energy up when I was in a bad mood or exhausted after a long day. I ran to it, I cleaned to it, I walked to work with "America's Suitehearts" blasting into my eardrums. It was like musical Viagra.
I started listening to it because it reminded me of someone, but even after he was no longer a factor, the song remained the same. So to speak.
The effects of that little blue Pete Wentz pill lasted longer than four hours. Thank God a professional stepped in.
The night I met the Knight, our guitar class set out to play "Hotel California" all the way through. And I'd never even heard it.
Now that I have heard it, I realize my life had been no worse pre-Eagles, but…well, it's testament to how little I knew then.
I thought I was pretty hot shit where music was concerned. People came to me for music recommendations. I'd seen more concerts than I could count. I'd taken piano for more than five years…I had been singing since third grade. I enrolled in a class my senior year of college called History of Rock 'n' Roll, for God's sake!
But lord, what a child I was. Consider it The Miseducation of Paige Worthy.
I'd only scratched the surface.
The Knight cured me of my Fall Out Boy problem and knocked me down a few notches on the hot-shit totem at the same time. Then he helped me climb back up. At the start of our courtship, when words weren't enough to satisfy our curiosities about each other (they still aren't, actually), we started e-mailing MP3s to each other.
Before I left for Paris — before we were really even together — he was sending me some serious music. With some serious messages.
Millie Jackson's "Hurts So Good."
Lucinda Williams' "Essence."
Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" by Al Green.
Soul and R&B. Girl groups. Songs I knew I should have heard by then but never had. Songs I couldn't believe I hadn't heard until then. Fast new favorites. The whole world opened before me.
Then he started with the rock.
The trashy stuff by bands I'd never heard of, the trashy stuff by Springsteen. Alice Cooper. Songs that made me feel like I'd walked into a dirty trailer, kicking empty PBR cans out of my way as I walked to the fridge for a full one.
He sent stories with each song for a long time, which I loved. He wrote about the associations each song held in his mind.
The Rolling Stones.
And, dear God: Led Zeppelin.
My new Fall Out Boy — not a guilty pleasure, no shame involved. But absolutely my new musical Viagra.
I'd heard much of it before: My dad had every one of their albums on vinyl and exposed me to some of it early on. But I had never really heard it.
I don't mind that it makes me sound like an old man saying this: They just don't make music like this anymore. It's epic. Legendary. I could Barney Stinson all over it for days.
There are songs that, when I listen to them as I walk somewhere, completely transform my step. I become a sex goddess, a terror on the sidewalk in three-inch platforms — even when I'm wearing flats. Robert Plant's howling vocals, the guitar, John Bonham's…well, John Bonham. Jesus. I understand now why everyone was so devastated when he died.
Their debut album, the extent of my pre-Knight Zeppelin knowledge, still gives me goosebumps.
Physical Graffiti, from the oozing sex of "Custard Pie" through "The Wanton Song," which makes me want to scream every time I hear it. Learning how deliberate the ebb and flow was when the record was created, the way the album builds from side to side — even though it's all packed into one tiny white box now — changes the way I listen to it completely.
Let's ignore the fact that I heard "Kashmir" first as a sample in Puff Daddy's song "Come With Me" on the Godzilla soundtrack in 1998. Shall we?
I joke with the Knight that if we ever split up, I'd never be able to listen to music again, period. Every song, every note, every lyric reminds me of him; music is woven into the fiber of our relationship, and it would take more than a stitch ripper — more than deleting a few songs from my iPod — to separate the two in my mind.
So I guess we'd better stay together. Because I can't go back to Fall Out Boy now.