College bands will one day be a rare treat to share with the next generation student life

So, who are the Judy’s? In short, they’re a small band that came out of Pearland, Texas in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s that my dad listened to incessantly in college and afterwards. They’re categorized as punk and new-wave. For those of you, like me, that just nodded uncomprehendingly, this means that they’re old school punk rock (think Sex Pistols) with the label of “new-wave,” which means they sound more pop-y and electronic-y (think vaguely Talking Heads).

I distinctly remember listening to the Judy’s as a kid. My dad had the albums burned to his iTunes library (they weren’t available in the iTunes store), and he’d always play them in the car with me on our way to and from soccer practices after school. My mother doesn’t particularly love his taste in music; so, these were his opportunities to brainwash my young and malleable mind with his favorite music, including the Judy’s.

He’s a big rock guy (but also super into Hank Williams Jr. and Merle Haggard); so, I had a pretty diverse music palate by the time I was old enough to drive myself.

One of their most famous songs (though famous is a strong word considering their Wikipedia page isn’t even scrollable) is about the Jonestown massacre. If you aren’t familiar with Jonestown, think “don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” In 1978, 918 American cult members residing in Guyana killed themselves on an airstrip by ingesting poisoned grape punch their leader Jim Jones provided them with. Dark, right? The song’s titled “Guyana Punch.” It starts out slow and nasally repeats “there’s a strange one in the jungle.” Slower lines throughout the song allude to the mass suicide such as, “with a new and exciting drink,” “offering death without pain,” “here come the planes, please form a straight line” and “freshen up, freshen up, freshen up.” These slow, somber verses boil over at the one-minute mark and then you get a boisterously happy “GUYANA PUNCH, UH-OH, UH-OH-OH” repeated over and over again with a tempo increase.

It was an extremely fun song to listen and sing along to as an 11-year-old, but I was also very confused as to what the heck it was talking about. I remember being distinctly uncomfortable when I worked up the nerve to ask my dad, but also astounded that someone could ever write such a happy song about 918 people dying. This isn’t the only historically topical song they wrote. “Vacation in Tehran” is a satire about the Iranian hostage crisis being an enviable vacation. “Radiation Squirm” is about the Three Mile Island accident (nuclear plant failure, Pennsylvania 1979) and how the radiation squirm is the new dance craze. Basically, it’s super dark humor, arguably in very poor taste. But it’s so fun to listen to! The lead singer has a Freddie Mercury-esque high pitched voice, the music is boppable and—once you’re of the age to question lyrics—the lyrics are thought-provoking/humorous/mildly educational.

I just recently asked my dad to mail me his physical CDs of “Washarama” and the “Moo Album” because I’ve been feeling nostalgic for my controversial ‘80s college-band rock. The Judy’s made their own label “Wasted Talent Records,” but they never got big enough to make it onto iTunes, Spotify, or the like, and when you look for the physical copies of their music online, the only modes available are very expensive vinyl or the Wasted Talent website that says they sell the CDs, but then upon clicking, says that they’re unavailable. Sometimes, when I listen to the CDs on the static-y boombox I bought for a steal online, I feel like I’m listening to a rare recording. Like the music version of a secret rare Pokemon card. It also makes me feel closer to my dad; so, it’s doubly special.

My dad bought these CDs in college at Harding University in Arkansas. The football team would play these at every party on repeat. Just how “Closer” by the Chainsmokers will always remind me of freshman year, “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers will always remind me of screaming “COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND I’VE BEEN DOING JUST FINE” in a sweaty basement and “All Night Longer” by Sammy Adams will always remind me of winning a national championship, The Judy’s songs hold the same kind of nostalgia for my dad.

Finding niche “college bands” at this time of your life could be your secret rare Pokemon card that you share with the people that come after you. Go see The Snapchettes, American Poetry Club, Frankie Valet. Buy a demo—download their music if you’re so inclined. One day, you’ll be 40 years old, sitting in your self-driving car, forcing the next generation to listen to your weird college music; and you’ll be giving them the gift of a good story, rare tunes and a little piece of the world that seems to exist just between you two.