An In-depth Analysis of The Wonder Years’ Suburbia Eve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing as a Concept Album The Wonder Years have been raising eyebrows since they flirts came into the Pop Punk scene in 2007. This was apparent in their third full-length album Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. The thing that intrigues fans most about this band is the front man’s storytelling ability. Singer/songwriter Dan “Soupy” Campbell has developed his very own characteristic way of writing lyrics.
He does so in a way that Is real and personal. In the album Suburbia, Campbell takes a concept approach o his songwriting. Campbell has stated In many Interviews and album reviews that the concept of the album is Allen Ginsberg poem America. (Boney) The Wonder Years is a pop punk band based out of Allendale, Pennsylvania. Their first album, Get Stoked on it! , was released in 2007 and was not very serious at all. Nearly every song off the album was either about cereal brand characters or other goofy Icons.
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Once the band realized how many people they were bringing in to shows, they decided to have a change of pace. Instead of singing about ninjas and dinosaurs, “Soupy started singing about his life on the road and fighting his oppression. The 2010 release of The upsides defined the band. Members of the band found themselves feeling the familiar feeling of depression. After getting tired of beating themselves up everyday, they adopted the motto “I’m not sad anymore”. This became a cult theme that all of their fans now follow. A lot of fans started going to Campbell after shows.
They would talk to him about how the album literally saved their life or they would ask him for advice, leading Campbell to state In many Interviews that this motto was not a statement at all. Not that he truly does not feel ad anymore but that it is a battle cry for somewhere he wants to be. These were not the kind of songs where the singer goes on about drugs, partying, or how much money he has; these were songs about his life. They were stories where he used names and Instances of real friends and real people he knew.
The upsides was written about Campbell stay In South Philadelphia along with other members who were at different colleges. Suburbia would be about The Wonder Years’ life after touring, about their life coming back home to Allendale, Pennsylvania. Dan “Soups; Campbell attended Temple University in Philadelphia. His major was Secondary Education and English. Although, he dropped Secondary Education because he was touring, he still graduated in May of 2011 with an English degree. With English being a strong point in his past, it is apparent why his style of writing has caught the eye of so many.
Campbell conceptualized the album Suburbia based on bands he grew up listening to, He loved the Idea of having a point of reference for an album: it makes the album a lot more fun to listen to and gives it more meaning. The theme for Suburbia came to “Soupy” while he was trying to figure out a hem. While attending the graduation of his band-mate’s girlfriend, he noticed the poem America by Allen Ginsberg. “Soupy was already a big fan of Ginsberg work, since the poem was written thirty years prior to Campbell birthday, and after with what was going on throughout the band.
The poem America is about all the problems that Allen Ginsberg faces while living in this country. Ginsberg starts off by writing “America Eve given you all and now I’m nothing” (1). Ginsberg continues about how having a different background has greatly affected his life in America. Along tit being homosexual, he was raised as a communist and is a practicing Buddhist. America is personified as something Ginsberg once loved as a child. America promised so many positive things to be brought upon the people that lived there. Growing up made him realize the kind of oppression that was pushed onto him. America stop pushing I know what I’m doing” (24). Allen Ginsberg also faced depression throughout his life. A lot what he felt was brought upon him by America’s view on many things. America became extremely paranoid because of the wars. Ginsberg later states how peace in America was slowly becoming nonexistent and owe it was hardly okay to be Chinese, African American, or Native American. Because of his communism and Buddhist religion Ginsberg rejects Christianity; “l won’t say the Lord’s prayer” (37). He says this in a way that means that he will not conform to what society thinks he should be like.
He is a perfectly sane man; he does not call out America for its faults, therefore, he should not be called out for his. In the album Suburbia Eve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, Dan “Soupy’ Campbell wanted to tie in the album with something he felt that not only he, but a lot of his listeners could relate to. He Jumped onto the idea by being influenced with bands he grew up with like The Hold Steady and Saves The Day. In an interview by Pat Haynes, Campbell confesses to being impressed by the songwriter for the band The Hold Steady. He wanted something like that for The Wonder Years.
Suburbia combined elements of the previous album The Upsides along with America. The very title of the album is a spin on the first line of the poem, which is also based on how the band felt coming back to their hometown after everything they had been through. It is something that everybody could relate to, coming back home from allege after having put so much into something for so long, and then not feeling a part of it anymore, yet still cannot help but remain in love with it. The motto for the previous album, The Upsides, was “I’m not sad anymore” which was repeated in a sung melody throughout the album.
The first song off of Suburbia, “Came Out Swinging”, opens with a prerecorded narration of America repeating “My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble”(34), later played by the lead guitar before the bridge. The song ends with the repeated line “Came out swinging from a South Philly basement… “. This is a reference to the setting in which The Upsides was written. Since The Upsides was about him fighting his depression, this line symbolizes his continuing victory. The second track “Woke Up Older” was written for his friend Max.
The line “l stacked a Bouzoukis novel on a Blacklisted LOP and this time what it looked was Just what it proved to be” is referring to The Upsides song “Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack”. The line reads “l stacked “Lonelier than God” next to “You Get So Alone Sometimes”/ I know how this must look from the outside”. The reference in this song is not necessarily about him. Though he still uses “l” but it shows how these little coincidences in life symbolize how he really is feeling, having dropped out of college and lying to everybody by saying he finished.
The third track “Local Man the fountain, which was rarely turned on, was flowing and sparked a realization for “Soupy’ and the band. It was the kind of realization that made him feel like everything was not as bad as he thought. It was the kind of realization that was the basis for “I’m not sad anymore”. The third track starts with the line “the fountain was off/ this is the first time Eve been back to the city in months”. This fountain, that had become the basis of his happiness, was now off; he was left alone again. This song is about how the band was left to confront their problems themselves.
They are only as human as the rest of us. In America Ginsberg speaks of the way he is not perfect because he smokes marijuana, gets drunk, and reminisces on some negative aspect of his past by staring at roses in his closet. Campbell sings “l don’t have roses in my closet but I have pictures in a drawer”. Campbell proves his innocence by adding, “I’m not a self help book, I’m Just a bucked up kid”. He isn’t perfect, and unlike Ginsberg feeling the pressure of America, Campbell feels the pressure of his fans. The fourth track off Suburbia titled “Suburbia” is the first of the three tracks, which combined create the name of the album.
This song shows how crooked the town is and how the owners of a favored bowling alley burnt it down Just to seek profit from its insurance company. The song states how every mom and pop store went under, resulting in the death of the town. The helpless feeling that Ginsberg feels for America is how Campbell feels about the town he had grown up in. Ginsberg felt like he was America. He could not blame anything that was wrong with it because he became a part of what was wrong with it. The fifth track “My life as a pigeon” explains The Wonder Years adopted the pigeon as their mascot.
Campbell feels like that pigeon is never wanted anywhere, but it does not care if it is wanted or not. It will continue to flourish and that is how the band feels about itself. They have used this pigeon as their mascot since the release of their PEP in 2008. The song is referring to America in the sense that Ginsberg felt like Americans were always ridiculously paranoid about everything around them. The Wonder Years felt scared and paranoid about touring. A lot of the members had put college on hold and was leaving No Sleep Records to sign with Hopeless Records and was still trying to fit in to what felt like a dying genre. Summers in PA” references the line in America “America the plum blossoms are falling” (26). In Eastern culture, the plum blossom symbolizes peace. In The Upsides Campbell mentions his friends Spiro and how he lied about his major, he makes a reference with “Spiro lied about his major, then said buck the whole thing” and came back to town. Campbell uses the plum blossoms to ay he does not mind falling with them in order to help his friend cope with what is going on through his life. Campbell did not mind becoming a part of the trouble that Ginsberg mentioned when he said “My mind is made up there is going to be trouble” (34).
The seventh track “l Won’t Say The Lord’s Prayer” is based on a line from America and how he should not feel guilty for not being a part of the norm of society. “Coffee Eyes” refers to the second line of America and is about the struggles of poverty and having grown up going to the same diner for years. This is one of the encore moments in the album. Like America, Campbell cannot help but feel at home in Allendale. Despite all the bad that has happened, there is still a lot of good that came out of it. Eve Given You All” is the second installment of combination that never received Justice; the violence that Ginsberg mentioned in the poem. “Don’t Let Me Cave In” is a song about not giving up. They mention making it big; they rated their success by touring through the Midwest, referring to the PEP recorded in 2008. The eleventh song muff Made Me Want To Be A Saint” is the second song they have Ritter about their friend who had passed away. In America this line was used to describe how Ginsberg had first felt by the positive influence the country had on him. Hooded Weather” uses the line “Burroughs is in Tangier I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister” (21) describes a man that was banished from America due to drug trade but Ginsberg did not think this was wrong at all. Campbell uses the name Rocky and mentions how Suburbia drove him down south. The album ends with “And Now I’m Nothing” where Campbell finally accepts this as his home and makes peace with it long with all of its flaws. The last line in America, “America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel” (93), is used by Campbell, excluding the word “queer”.
This line is an expression to put work into something. Just like Ginsberg, Campbell feels if he wants to make this place better that has to work towards it. The song also ends with a repeated “Suburbia stop pushing I know what I am doing”. Representing Campbell hold on the situation. One of the most interesting things is how The Wonder Years tied the album together with the tracks “Suburbia”, “Eve Given You All”, ND “And Now I’m Nothing” each using some variation of the Am, C, F, G progression. Dan “Soupy’ Campbell used references from The Upsides along with the Allen Ginsberg poem America.
Even if he had not intentionally created this as a concept album the result would have been inevitable. Each album The Wonder Years has made has followed their life. Each album is following them, telling a story in chronological order. Each track in Suburbia Eve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing has the month and year written under the song title to show the reader exactly where they were in their life. Many of the other references such as the Hank the Pigeon as the mascot and the motto “I’m not sad anymore” has been used solely for marketing purposes.