Jay Reatard passing away has hit me hard. And I know what you're thinking-"it's not like you knew him"-and of course you're correct; I didn't. No, it's more about romanticizing lost youth and punk rock and making the most of your life and shit like that. The last thing I want is to turn someone else's tragedy into being about me. After all, with the news of his death, 'the blogosphere', as they call it, is already overflowing with "The first time I heard of Jay Reatard..." and "I remember my first encounter with Jay Reatard was..." stories. But, you know what, I can't help it...
My first memory of Jay Reatard is from the late 90's. While paging through Maximum Rock-n-Roll or Flipside or some other zine, I came across an ad for Teenage Hate. It caught my eye because I thought it was strange that they spelled 'retard' with an extra a. But it wasn't until probably seven years later that I actually heard a Reatards song. I was instantly blown away. Ferocious is the word that comes to mind. I've been a Jay fan ever since.
His death comes at a weird time for me. I had a birthday not all that long ago. Hence, I've already been doing a lot of thinking-perhaps obsessing-about the aforementioned 'loss of youth' and punk and so on.
Around Chirstmas, I anonomously gave this punker kid I know an envelope that "fell out of his backpack." The envelope contained a gift certificate to Extreme Noise and the following note:
Don't ever change, man. I mean go ahead and grow and learn and progress and all and of that shit but don't ever stop being punk. And I don't mean stop 'looking' punk. Fashion is fashion and it speaks nothing as to the person you are. I mean don't stop 'being' punk. In your head, in your heart, in your middle finger or wherever it matters most to you; just don't stop being punk. You're the future of this shit. And when you're an old punk and you find some kid that is the future of this shit, you grab them and tell them that they are the future of this shit. Happy Holidays.
A couple days later my Mother gave me a birthday card that asked the following question:
How old would you be if age wasn't a number?
Jay Reatard was 15 when he made his first demo. He was 29 when he died.