Breakfast in Gambier

By Jacqueleen Eng ’19

51-Pb5T+23LSupertramp’s Breakfast In America is one of my favorite albums ever. It features four hit Billboard singles some of which you’ve probably heard before (two of which are featured in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 hit movie, Magnolia)—“The Logical Song,” “Goodbye Stranger,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Breakfast In America.” Released in 1979, Supertramp is not a group I would predict myself enjoying, as they’re described as a “progressive rock” band that saw more success catering to the mainstream pop audience. So I guess that means I am mainstream pop audience. But I don’t understand what I find appealing about the album other than that it’s just catchy. My favorite song fluctuates between “Goodbye Stranger” which is presumably about a one night stand or leaving a relationship (but some think it’s about weed?) and “Take the Long Way Home,” which I don’t have a reading for other than sometimes you should just take the long way home… or as too many people from my high school quoted in the yearbook, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Supertramp

Supertramp.

Still, these themes don’t exactly resonate with me and aren’t particularly hard hitting, so I have come to the conclusion that I like the album because my mom gave it to me. It’s a weird thing—associating songs with emotion and events. Like one time in the sixth grade at a sleepover my friends and I called a super cute boy in my Spanish class and his ringback tone (remember those?) was “In the Ayer” by Flo Rida, and whenever I hear it it reminds me of that terrible, terrible time. Two of my friend’s in high school had sex to “Devil in a New Dress” for the first time in the back of a Nissan Versa, and just knowing that ruins a good, innocent song. Breakfast In America is no different, but fortunately has a nicer association. I asked for a record player for Christmas two or three years ago, and Santa gifted me a muted chartreuse low-quality Crosley. After establishing I had no records, my mother dusted off a selection of hers from the attic and gave them to me—Supertramp, Talking Heads, Cat Stevens, ELO, etc.

So as much as I love Breakfast in America, I can’t make you love it, too. Some albums are critically acclaimed and feature brilliant production and lyrics. I can appreciate and enjoy them for that, but I put others on repeat because they remind me of something that is no longer. I’ve realized that most of the music I play on my radio show (Wednesdays at 9-10 am, baby!) are just songs I’ve either loved for a long time or remind me of people and places I miss. I play them for me, but maybe you’ll be listening to a song one fine morning and like it. Maybe you’ll hear it again five years from now, and it’ll remind you of your first or sophomore or junior or last year in college and about how horrible or happy or sad or exciting that time was. Maybe you’ll share it with someone else, and it only goes from there.