To say Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American is the soundtrack of my youth is an understatement. I’ve spun that disc – which turns 10-years-old this week – more than any other. Growing up Mormon in Gilbert, Arizona, it’s to be expected. Down there, Jimmy Eat World is bigger than the Beatles, at least in the crowds I ran with. Everyone loves them and everyone is familiar with each of the 11 songs on their breakthrough record like they were all smash hit singles.
I blasted “Sweetness” before every track cross country and track race I ran. I replayed the guitar riff in “Get It Faster” every time I listened to it and plucked it out on the piano regularly. I played “Hear You Me” the day a friend died. To this day, my brother and I play Jimmy Eat World at the end of the 11-hour car ride from Provo, Utah to Gilbert.
The album’s biggest hit, “The Middle,” was never among my favorite tracks from the album, mostly due to its radio saturation, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that all I need to know, I learned from that song. Lessons like “don’t write yourself off yet,” “it’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on” and “you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in” are the type of pep talk lyrics we all occasionally need when things are rough. And in the “It Gets Better” era where pop stars are constantly reminding us we were “born this way,” Jimmy Eat World’s music video for the song featuring a scantily clad house party where two dressed teens find each other and leave seems to portray the message of not trying to fit in better than Gaga’s most sincere pleas.