50. “Anything” by Goldfinger (1996)

The JOAT 50 Song Countdown is a blog series where every weekday for 10 weeks I am posting a brand new long form essay where I have ranked and written about my 50 favorite songs of all-time. From Adele to Zac Brown Band, Patsy Cline to Plasma Canvas, Ludacris to Rise Against, this series offers a personal essay about the 50 songs that hit me the absolute hardest.

The first time I ever saw Goldfinger live, I was still sort of new to concerts so the idea of seeing a band play their songs – these songs that I had listened to over and over and over again, knew every word, and grew to love – was, I’m not kidding, AMAZING to me. I know that sounds ridiculous, or like some romantic horseshit a pot smoking dweeb would wax idiotic at you about, but getting to experience live music in my teens and early 20s was like Dr. Alan Grant seeing the brontosauruses at the beginning of Jurassic Park.

So as I stood there in the packed, cigarette-choked Ogden Theatre awaiting Goldfinger to take the stage, my mind raced considering what song they might play first. The lights went down in an instant. The crowd let out a huge cheer. I didn’t (and still don’t) cheer the lights, probably because I was (and am) a pretentious dipshit. The band scampered onstage in the darkness. John Feldmann, lead singer and guitarist, came out last, and he was already playing the creeping opening notes of “Anything.” That’s when I cheered.

And then the lights came up hard on the opening lines “After all this time you’re still asking questions…” The crowd popped again, but then joined in. “You love to fill me up with emptiness / I’m a martyr in search of a party / I’m a lover in search of a quest” We were all singing along, pumping our fists in the air, and holy fuck what a time to be alive.

In doing just a touch of research for this piece, I learned John Feldmann wrote this song when he was 17. Funny. I myself was 17 when I was listening to this album on repeat while driving my friend Ashley to high school. She’d get in my ’94 VW Jetta every morning smelling vaguely of cigarettes that she would try unsuccessfully to mask using various scents (her mom smoked in the house), and we’d spend the 8 minutes or so rocking out. We probably listened to Goldfinger’s self-titled album more than any other save for “Quality Soft Core” and “Duck and Cover” by Mad Caddies.

The lyrics betray a very 17 year-old boy point of view. Here’s the chorus:

I can see you don’t want anything
I can see sometimes you don’t want me
Just love me the times that I need you
I can say then that I am still free

That’s a boy not forgiving a girl for having more than one mood and expecting her to be at her best and most accommodating all the time. That’s a boy turning fatalistic and self-flagellating at the first hint of friction. That’s a boy then giving up in the face of all this emotional complexity and just wanting affection on demand, with no reciprocal obligation offered. The next verse swings wildly in the other direction thematically as it describes the overwhelming romance you feel when gazing at the object of your affection. It’s a real buffet of emotions, one after the other!

But that’s life as a teenager, right? Your feelings are front and center at pretty much all times, and they’re as big as they are unpredictable. Throw in the topsy-turvy experience of first relationships, and you’re giving this emotional inferno a blast of lighter fluid. Filtered through the cacophony of punk rock, it’s a perfect storm for immediately becoming one of my favorite songs.

In 2023, the song is more of a nostalgia joy buzzer than anything else. It reminds me of Ashley. It reminds me of the time my girlfriend somehow lost my giant Case Logic binder of CDs shortly before I was supposed to start doing college radio. One CD remained, and it was Goldfinger’s self-titled because that one happened to be in my car’s CD player when she lost them. It reminds me of the unhinged energy of their shows.

At one show, drummer Darren Pfeiffer invited an audience member onstage, pulled out a Hostess Twinkie, dropped his drawers, stuck it so it protruded out of his bare ass crack, and invited the audience member to eat it. The audience member bit off roughly 80% of it, and then slinked offstage to a mix of cheers and disgusted groans. Pfeiffer then pulled one cheek to the side, grabbed the remaining 20% of the Twinkie, and popped that in his mouth. It’s something I wish could unsee.

But that was Goldfinger. They were equal parts serious about things like Feldmann’s veganism, and totally juvenile like in the song “My Ex-Girlfriend’s Shower” and the sketch that plays at the end of this track. This track technically ends at 2:04, but the next 41 seconds are puerile jackassery filled with jokes about popping zits and the guys touching each other’s dicks. I sort of wish the song just ended at 2:04.

But that wouldn’t be fair to 17 year-old me. And I definitely don’t want to incite the wrath of that emotional hurricane again.

Up next: A redneck and a Boomer go to the beach.

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