Disclaimer: this is not an educational post – just needs to be written.

Everybody I know has at least a few bands or Artists that really impacted them on a deeper level for one reason or another.  One of those bands for me was No Use For A Name.  In fact, a lot of what Fat Wreck Chords put out in the 90’s was the soundtrack to my adolescence before graduating from high school in 2000.  I grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, an affluent Minneapolis suburb of about 50,000 people where top 40 was king.

When I was first exposed to some of the music coming from California and the West Coast at that time I was blown away.  I blared NUFAN in our locker room when the rest of my squad was looking for Jock Jams.  I stayed up for 2 days teaching myself guitar by learning ¡Leche con Carne! on my shitty old Les Paul knock off.  I stood in 100+ degree heat to see them at Warped Tour.  My best friends and I blared More Betterness! while wakeboarding and partying on the lake during our last summer at home before heading off to college.  I swooned a girl I was psyched about at the time by playing her Feels Like Home and International You Day (song and lyrics below) at a crusty college bar with 3 dudes I had never met before, etc, etc, etc.  I was a fan.

Somewhat ironically, I’ve got tickets to go see Me First and the Gimme Gimmes next Saturday in San Diego with one of my best friends that I grew up with during the lake days mentioned above. Chris Shiflett, now with Foo Fighters, played lead guitar for NUFAN in the second half of the 90’s and is one of the members of Me First so I have to imagine something will be said from the stage about Tony’s death.  Typically after deaths in the music community, sad as they are, live events turn into family reunions where the vibe is insanely positive.  We’ll see.

In the years since I left the Midwest, I’ve continued to be a fan. I got really fired up and fell in love all over again when Tony and Joey Cape of Lagwagon released Acoustic in the summer of 2004 – coincidentally, at the exact same time I moved from Boston to California (long story) and started the West Coast chapter of my life.  When I recall events and scenes from my life in Sonoma that summer, I automatically hear that album – no shit.

Tony Sly joined NUFAN in 1989 when he was 18 years old and like most musicians who  grow up while in a band, his style and life evolved.  He was one of the great songwriters and lyricists in the genre, able to express complex emotional issues in increasingly interesting and clever ways that resonated with a wide swath of fans.  In reading comments from around the web, people are authentically and emotionally bummed by the news of his passing.  I’m not going to call a guy that many of you have probably never heard of “the voice of a generation,” but I can tell you that for a lot of us, he sort of was.  I’m about to turn 30 and I may have been on the younger side of Tony’s fan-base before he and Joey started touring around playing acoustic shows.  In the end, he appealed to a whole new audience of fans by mixing up his live act and recordings – maybe that’s the educational piece in all this?  If you’re fortunate enough to gain some traction and taste success, don’t be afraid to mix it up and follow your gut.  Play what you want to play, say what you want to say.

His death is untimely and he leaves behind his wife and two daughters, which just sucks.  Adding to the craziness is how a 41 year old guy dies with nothing available online about how?  Doesn’t seem good, makes me sad and the world of music is worse off without this guy around.  If you’re not into punk rock, do yourself a favor and pour over some of the lyrics anyway – you might learn something.

Tony D.

Photo via Broc Images

“Feels Like Home”

It’s too late to talk to you
And it’s too soon to say good-bye
Listen where ever you may be
You still live inside my mind

Something tells me that you are free again
In a place that feels like home

It’s never easy to understand
Why memories hold our hand
But people let go

“International You Day”

i’m sorry that it took so long
to write this song
but i gave up
you see one million words can’t describe
how it feels
to know your love

where did i go wrong?
i should have told you from the start
that i’m closer then you think
when we’re apart
nothing that i’ve tried
is as simple as this line

but without you
my life is incomplete
my days are absolutely gray
and so I’ll try
let your heart know for sure
that i have so much more to tell you
every single day

i swear i’m giving up my inside
to the one
that i adorded
i know this world is big enough
for you and i
but i’ll give you more

i’m coming home today
to wipe the tears right from your eyes
i’m totally enamored by your life
nothing that i’ve done
has ever been for one

but without you
my life is incomplete
my days are absolutely gray
and so I’ll try
let your heart know for sure
that i have so much more to tell you
every single day

my life is incomplete
my rites are absolutely gone
so wake me up
before you leave today
something i need to say
cause they’ll be nothing when you’re gone

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