as most everyone knows by now, Karl Muller of Soul Asylum died Friday morning, he was 41. i’ve been thinking for two days what on earth to say about it all. it’s not that i new Muller. hell, i never even met the guy. but his music and his band sure as hell meant a lot to me. in the soundtrack to my life, before there was paul westerberg and the replacements, there was soul asylum. soul asylum, who wrote the song Bittersweetheart. clearly i have a thing for domain names that are song titles.
when someone dies there seems to be this gut instinct to try to explain their significance, to explain why they’re important. it’s like we try to immortalize them with this grand, overblow cliches. i can’t do that. i could never explain how much soul asylum’s music meant to me. that kind of thing can’t be put into words. the only thing i can ever do is share memories, tell stories. i guess that’s what i do. and i like to think that when i’m gone, people will just tell stories about me or something they remember about me.
whenever i think of soul asylum, i have two distinct memories.
one is sitting at the olive garden, in eau claire wisconsin with my friend scott. it was about 2 weeks after my cousin alan had died. it was our first and only ‘date.’ if you had any idea how big the crush i had on scott was, you’d totally understand why i never forgot this moment. not only did he leave the newspaper office (he was still in college, i had graduated a few months before) shouting for all to hear ‘i’ve got a date with chromey, i’m going on a date with chromey’, but he also told me that the Soul Asylum song ‘Marionette’ reminds him of me. of all the songs, in all the world, he picked my very favorite Soul Asylum song.Why do you think she’s so scared of you? What do you think makes her that way? When push comes to shove she’ll push and shove. It’s very hard work when you don’t get paid. i bet my best friend anderla and i spent at least 4 weeks trying to decipher just what that meant, him chosing that song for me, and never came up with the answer: absolutely nothing.
while sometimes i think of sister #2 and the two-hit wonder dilemma, and of course the rock for Karl hoopla, my first thought when Soul Asylum comes to mind is running into Paul, Keith, and Casey at the McDonald’s in Hudson. the McDonald’s in Hudson is where every single person who ever travelled from eau claire to the cities stopped. everyone did. at the time, the mcdonald’s was just about the only thing in hudson. now there’s tons of stuff. anyway, anderla and i were on our way to midway stadium in st. paul to see soul asylum, the jayhawks, and matthew sweet. I KNOW! i was just about creaming my jeans all over the place i was so excited.
so anderla and i stopped off at McDonald’s, because it’s required by law, and as we pull into a parking space, we look over to see three of our buddies in the next car. we wave at each other and think nothing of it. we journey on to midway where anderla and i swoon like the little fan girls we were, hung out, drank a few beers, looked at all the cute boys. then, soul asylum hit the stage, and we ventured further into the crowd hoping to get a little closer. as is my incredibly nerdy habit, i started to dance. there’s something about live music that makes it extremely hard for me to sit still. as i’m dancing away in my own little world, all of a sudden i hear “look at chromey.” i look up to see casey, standing next to me.
“you’re really into this aren’t you?” he shouted.
“i love these guys,” i said.
“i can tell,” he said.
then he took my hand and we danced. like a wave on the ocean romanced. ok, not really. but we danced and had fun and there really was nothing remarkable about it at all. it was just a summer concert and a bunch of college kids, drinking and dancing and being happy. i think maybe that’s why i remember it so much. because i was just so geniunely happy. it’s one of those times in my life that i can point to and go yes, there, there i was happy. nothing spectacular happened. there was no smooching or love or anything. just soul asylum, sunshine and happiness.
so yes, when i think of soul asylum, i think of being happy. and i think that’s the best tribute i can give to Karl Mueller or anyone.