I am basically Rory Gilmore. I switched to private school my junior year. I read in library corners instead of talking to other children. And, perhaps most importantly, I grew up in the small Connecticut town of Mystic, complete with an antique drawbridge that went up and down to let the sailboats through, a pizza restaurant that inspired a Julia Roberts flick, and a tiny record store filled with classic vinyl from ‘70s Brit-pop band, XTC.
I first learned about XTC from Gilmore Girls, a TV show about mother/daughter best friends that took place in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. In an early episode, Rory’s music-obsessed pal, Lane Kim, bounds onto the Gilmores’ porch, holding a CD aloft, and then, seconds later, XTC’s “I’m the Man Who Who Murdered Love” blares from the stereo. Luckily, Lane yelled, “XTC, Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol 2)” mid-bound, allowing pre-Shazam-era Brenna to go down to the aforementioned record store and pick up the album for herself.
From that day forth, XTC became the music that scored my East Coast childhood–and Rory’s. XTC’s music made several cameos on the show, from 1986’s “Earn Enough For Us” (off Skylarking) to 1992’s “Then She Appeared,” off Nonsuch.
There was something about this band, who hailed from across the globe, that was just so Connecticut. Maybe it was all the references to boats and water (“All You Pretty Girls,” off 1984’s The Big Express) or how they brought the seasons alive so vividly and viscerally (“Summer’s Cauldron/Grass,” off Skylarking) or maybe it’s just how perfectly they managed to capture small town life (“Red Brick Dream,” The Big Express). Like Gilmore Girls, XTC wove a world filled with strange characters and quaint scenes and magic that I could very much relate to.
“I’m The Man Who Murdered Love,” however, will always be that song for me–the one that broke through the TV and introduced me to a world of music beyond my own suburbs. The one I listen to now when I want to remember those days of reading in library corners and dreaming about something more.
This is one of more than 50 posts that make up our musical map of the United States, published by region—the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast—by writers who have strongly associated a song with a state.