by Mike Vuono
November 5th, 2019
In 2002, “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World blew the fuck up. My family and I went to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio that summer as our family vacation. Cedar Point is or was the roller coaster capital of the world, or something like that, and at the time had like four of the five tallest roller coasters. I think the tallest at that moment was called “Millenium Force” and it properly rocked my little shit bag pre-high school face.
The downside of going to a place with all the best roller coasters in the world is that the majority of your day at the park is spent waiting in line. And since this was like THE roller coaster, the line was literally over five hours long for a one minute ride. I don’t get how that’s possible but it’s real. I waited for over five hours to ride that thing.
Throughout the entire queue, they had Z100 playing through the speaker system. “Sweetness” was basically playing every 45 minutes. It was the fucking jam of that summer. Every time it came on, standing in this five hour long line, damn near every person would sing along to the song, “Are you listening, WOooOOOHooOhooOhohoOH” etc. It was pretty surreal to hear like 500 people singing this anthem, but it was also awesome.
I grew up listening to Jimmy Eat World, a lot of it based on how much I loved the song “Sweetness” and the memory of the sing-along at Cedar Point.
Jimmy Eat World as a band started in 1996 with their album Static Prevails but that first album was the kind of “eh let’s get this one out and then become who we really are after” type of thing, because basically everyone agrees Jimmy Eat World really became themselves on their second album, Clarity.
“Sweetness” was actually written with the other songs of Clarity but wasn’t released until an album later on Bleed American which was their album that blew them up; “The Middle” and “Sweetness” were both on Bleed American. I still hear “The Middle” on the radio today, some 18 years later.
Anyway, Jimmy Eat World has put out ten albums since originally forming in 1993. They just released their tenth album, Surviving in October. Ten albums is a fucking lot. As an artist, it blows me away to think that for 26 years you could be putting out creative work that was true to yourself but also pushed your creative boundaries. It’s honestly unfathomable to me at this point in my life. When I’m a famous author in my 50’s, maybe I’ll look back and be like “oh yeah, that’s easy” but right now, that sort of endurance creatively is just, wow. I’ve only listened to Surviving twice so far, but the combo of the video and song for “555” is top tier. Jimmy Eat World still drops bangers.
The great thing about liking a band for 18 years is how the music keeps changing for you. I’ve listened to all of their songs dozens upon dozens of times and it always warps around to what I need the music to be. I started out listening to “The Middle” and it was like a fun, pop-punky jam. And then at the height of my depression, it was like a beacon for me to draw hope and inspiration from; “don’t give up, life is worth it.” And now I hear the song on my running playlist and it gives me just the right amount of hype to keep my pace going strong. Every song they’ve made has a sort of autobiographical meaning and history to me at this point. It’s awesome, Jimmy Eat World is awesome. Go listen to their new album. They didn’t pay me to write that, or any of this.
You know who else didn’t pay me? Danielle Ate the Sandwich.
Danielle Ate the Sandwich never blew up on the scale that Jimmy Eat World did, but her music is equally as important to me and shows the longevity of creative output that I hope to somehow maintain.
I found out about Danielle on Reddit probably like ten years ago. Her song + video for “Conversations With Dead People” hit the front page and got in front of my eyeballs.
This song rocks. I specifically like this recording of it because of the little solo she does at 1:50 where it’s almost like she loses control but manages to just hold onto the solo and nail it. She gives a look at the camera and smirk, admitting this, and then keeps going.
Danielle’s music was extremely important to me in the really dark time after college where I just had no fucking idea what I was doing with my life, despite having a good job and a girlfriend. I was lucky, crazy crazy lucky, but I still just had no idea what I was doing with myself. Some girl playing songs on the ukulele made that driftless life a little easier to live.
What’s also crazy is how long Danielle has been doing her thing; currently her oldest video on Youtube, “Ode to Optophobia” is from July 2007. A dozen years of banging out songs and videos on Youtube is damned impressive. The songs are like, really fucking good too. Whenever Danielle breaks out into the mainstream, it’s gonna be way overdue.
Danielle has seven albums out, which again is like a staggering number. One of them is a live album so it "doesn't count" but still, that type of creative longevity is not praised enough. I struggle to keep writing things from one year to the next (hence why this is like website #10 in as many years) but DATS just keeps on pushing out great stuff. Definitely support her work via Patreon or at least buy some of her albums. Things People Do is my all-time fav but her most recent album, The Terrible Dinner Guest is also fantastic.
I’m lucky to really enjoy two artists that are still putting out great work. I hope I can likewise keep creating things for years and years and years regardless of if I ever blow up or not. That’s nto to say that Danielle is any lesser for not becoming some mainstream mega popular musician. For everything I can tell, Danielle tours as a full time artist, just the same as Jimmy Eat World does. The only difference is scale. But both are creating music for a living, and you can’t take that away from either. I’ll never write the next great American novel, but maybe I can work full time as a freelance writer of some kind. I’d still be happy with that. Success is all grey. And anyone who can make a meaningful song about being a pair of hotdogs is a success in my book.
As I was writing and editing this, Danielle put out a new video, a cover of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. It’s pretty damn good, folks.
Keep making stuff. That’s the message to myself that is the motivation for this post.