Song of the Day

In My Tree by Pearl Jam (1996)

“Up here so high, the bars they break… 
Up here so high, the sky I scrape… 
Had my eyes peeled both wide open, and I got a glimpse… 
Of my innocence…got back my innocence…”

I spent a week in the Philippines in 1996 when I was in the Navy.  It’s at the top of the list for craziest week of my life.  Rarely have I seen or experienced…things like I did that week.  This is not the forum for divulging some of the finer details of what made it so memorable, but rest assured, I had a week-long feeling of “We’re in not Kansas anymore, Toto”.  I can share one story, though.  I just watched my son play his JV basketball game earlier tonight.  When I was driving home, this song played on my music shuffle, and 1996 came rushing back to me.

“In My Tree” is from the criminally underrated album No Code that I bought on the streets of Olongapo in early September 1996 shortly after it came out.  It’s been a favorite album of mine for over 20 years and listening to it always brings me back to this trip.  The reason it stuck with me tonight was recalling I bought this CD after doing a little balling myself in the Philippines.  Basketball, not…you know.

My friends and I had a hotel room for a couple days that acted as home base for our madness.  Since everything was so cheap, we lived like kings as far we were concerned.  Hotel rooms were $40 and were shared amongst four guys.  Beers were 25 cents and we went to the bars during happy hour when it was 2 for 1.  I digress.  We were walking around town one early afternoon when we passed by an outdoor basketball court where a bunch of local kids were playing pickup.  There were five of us, so we said “Fuck it”, let’s play.  They didn’t understand any English, but they understood the international language of “We got next, bitches”.  None of them were taller than 5′ 6″, which was good for me.  Some of them were even playing in flip flops.  Advantage: U.S.A.  This was a piece of cake.  I was showboating a little bit, taking crazy shots, making behind-the-back passes, you name it.  Halfway through the game, I go up for a cocky, one-handed layup when a kid comes up behind me and swats my shit out of bounds.  The whole place went nuts, laughing and high-fiving the kid who blocked my shot.

I was not happy and it showed.  My friends were even laughing at me because they knew I was fucking pissed.  We checked up to keep playing and I played like it was the Final Four.  I guarded like Gary Payton.  I rebounded like Dennis Rodman.  I shot like Jordan and when I blocked the shit out of a shot by the same kid who blocked me, I got in his grill and talked shit like Kevin Garnett.  I talked trash to a 5′ 4″ kid in flip flops who didn’t understand a lick of English.  I was a dick.

And all of this came rushing back to me when I heard the majestic opening drums to “In My Tree”.  I love this song.  I have a soft spot in my heart for this album and its connection to that time and place…even if I did act like a complete ass munch one afternoon.

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