Off The Beat With Kenneth Miller: Regina Spektor, Boys, and Ugly Times

By Kenneth Miller

The boy I lost my virginity to was the first person to introduce me to Regina Spektor. I was sixteen and had the music palette of a wannabe emo kid who actively spewed about All Time Low’s hardcore status on Tumblr. At this point in my seemingly stationary life, I was transfixed with learning about the two things that plagued my psyche daily: music and boys. And by the end of my run with this pop-punk, yet emotionally rhythmic man, my worldviews changed kind of forever.

The life-altering boy’s name is Jacob. Last time I encountered his lanky, yet abrasive existence, he was serving me and a couple of friends tastefully unseasoned carnitas from T. G. I. Friday’s. The exchange of food and uncomfy stares took place almost a year ago, and the tensions between us unremittingly still zinged after almost 5 years. Regina Spektor’s album “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats” had just hit radio frequencies and the second single off of her seventh studio album, “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” was shaking the fine dining establishment’s speakers as I went to pay our bill, which Jacob had kindly reduced substantially as a favor for an old friend.

He looked up from his serving tray stuffed with grotesquely undercooked meats and earwigged the final notes of the artist whose latest track somewhat defined our relationship, asking, “What do you think of the new album?”

“It’s pretty sad,” I quietly remarked. “I like it a lot.”

With a snarky grin, he nodded in agreement and handed me my change.

In reality, every relationship I’ve had has been defined by music in some way. Whether it be some song that drowned out those around us while we sloppily made out at an apartment banger or that specific tune that blasted from a partner’s car speakers as we aimlessly drove around town, I remember these moments more readily (and kindly) mainly when they are marked by music. Its presence allows for fluid discussions to occur, even when the guy is a strikingly terrible person. After all, it’s scientifically proven that music makes gross men more tolerable. (JK?)

Still, I think my need for an unyielding supply of music, specifically from the likes of artists such as Regina, has stemmed from music’s consistent positive force in my life. Without doubt, there will always be a new LP from an oddball crew of white dudes on its way. And I can always count on a new artist or an unknown track from a fav musician to appear while exploring through my Spotfiy account. You don’t have to go far for these new forms of entertainment nowadays, and likewise for a new selection of men.

Regina Spektor hasn’t released a new album in over four years; still, since the release of “What We Saw From The Cheap Seats,” I’ve ended two considerably serious relationships and started a new affair with a theatre loser who might actually be the one. Since the album’s drop, Spektor has married a bizarre, lo-fi musician, and even welcomed a baby boy into the mix. Her life is seemingly coming together with ease, while those who are left without her sing-song tunes are forced to move on with their life—happily in love or not.

Even after the sparkle of my innocence fades, I still find myself purposefully listening to Regina Spektor and unintentionally thinking of Jacob. In college, I play her first album “11:11” when jotting down papers. When I get depressed and start abusing too many drugs, I cuddle her stingingly rustic “Soviet Kitsch” and scream out punky classics like “Your Honor” and “Poor Little Rich Boy.” Listening to certain tracks now swing me back to lust-filled moments of despair that ultimately mean nothing to me now. As they play today, I only have the tracks’ familiar sounds and the vivid memories associated with the first boy I loved. Little relics of time encapsulated into 3-minute piano-punk tracks, and I’m lucky enough to have each easily triggered by pressing a “Play” button.