By the time I entered high school, I'd decided I had enough. My year of Hell had shown me who my true friends were and I decided that I was never again going to waste time and energy trying to impress someone. It was about this time that I started searching for music beyond what was played on Twin Cities radio. My brother, who had recently moved to Seattle for college, gave me a tape of an all-black rock band who were doing stuff that spoke to me much more than Poison, Bon Jovi, and the other hair-metal bands did. There was a strong funk-vibe underneath their tracks, along with a much richer singing voice and more aggressive, musical guitar solos. The album was Living Colour's Vivid. I ran around proclaiming its glory to anyone and everyone I met. Many were scornful. Few of my classmates wanted to believe that a black band could rock harder than their precious Def Leppard and Whitesnake. A year later, many of these same kids were running up to me and raving about this "brand new" band and their awesome song "Cult of Personality". I smugly reminded them that I had played the song for them over a year ago. My reputation as "the guy who knows everything about popular music was born. In a supremely ironic twist, many of the kids I'd been trying so hard to impress were suddenly trying to impress me. (This only lasted about three months, but it was an enormous confidence-booster.)
Since then, Living Colour has held a special place in my heart. I related to the band in a very personal way, partially because they were the "black band", but more because they were one of the bands I used to reinvent myself from "nerdy, wannabe popular junior high dork" to "nerdy but confident high school student who couldn't give a damn what you think". It's a subtle distinction, but without it I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to spend a summer abroad or move halfway across the country for college. I couldn't be happier that they're getting back together.