seventeen: “sailin’ on” by bad brains.

chelsea piers. june 2011.

I was far too young to appreciate Bad Brains in the height of their glory. When “Sailin’ On” came out on their debut album I was literally knee-high to grasshopper… if that. It was 1982.

But as a tomboy who was far more concerned with being one of the boys who mastered the art of skateboarding and the idea of skate/ska punk (or whatever) before it was cool, I knew who Sublime was before Bradley Nowell died, before The Specials became passé and before Bad Brains disappeared. Although looking back these bands should actually not be associated with my skateboard/tomboy ways as they’re so far in their own genres. But for some reason my mind has compiled them into one category and one that is as far from Debbie Gibson and Tiffany as possible.

I had not heard Bad Brains in years when the tribute album came out when I was in college. I was once again sucked into them and what they meant to my youth. Normally I dismiss any and all covers… and when the cover is being done by Moby, I dismiss it even more. I do not care for Moby. At. All.

However, I always loved the lyrics of “Sailin’ On.” Even as a 10-year-old I knew those words, although foreign to my life experience at the time, were full of something that would mean a lot when I grew up… and they did.

My apologies to Bad Brains for this… but my god, Moby’s cover breaks my heart every time. And I do love a proper heartbreak.


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