Sunday Music: Jawbreaker’s Limited Abilities On Unlimited Enthusiasm

Dan Ozzi’s book, SELLOUT: The Major Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994-2007), is so much more than a trip down memory lane for an 80’s/90’s alternative music fan. 

There’s generational theory here, and I’m not sure which book I want to relate it too, but there is a parallel version of the history of hip-hop from the same years, with the same aged artist and label reps I would love to hold next to it for the variation on culturally selling out.

Of all the bands and all of the songs I’ve got stuck in my head, a comment about Jawbreaker won’t leave me. 

This may capture the essence of the era better than anything else – 

Limited abilities on unlimited enthusiasm. 

Wow. just wow. Every basement idea ever – in 5 words. 

Jawbreaker’s underground hit “Boxcar” is a favorite for a reason. It’s the sound of ‘94, and it’s the time I started stumbling into/discovering all of “this.” Even if the song didn’t really land in my life until a few years later, it’s one that’s always been in my brain. Ozzi brought it back. Loudly. 

It’s a song about being in and out of a group at the same time. The anxiety of being nameless and on the fringe. About needing to be on the outside and not alone at the same time. 

Possibly perfect. Here’s the lyrics and the song, my emphasis added (and if you like this stuff, Ozzi’s book is a masterpiece):

You’re not punk and I’m telling everyone

Save your breath, I never was one

You don’t know what I’m all about

Like killing cops and reading Kerouac

My enemies are all too familiar

They’re the ones who used to call me friend

I’m coloring outside your guidelines

I was passing out when you were passing out your rules

One, two, three, four

Who’s punk? What’s the score?

Got a friend, her name is Boxcar

Cigarettes and beer in El Sob

Her hair was blue, now it’s green

I like her mind, she hates the scene

My enemies are all too familiar

They’re the ones who used to call me friend

I’m coloring outside your guidelines

I was passing out when you were passing out your rules

One, two, three, four

Who’s punk? What’s the score?

You’re on your own

You’re all alone