Most people can’t remember their lives before certain milestones – a leap in technology (the Internet! Smartphones! Food delivery apps!), a life-affirming experience (bringing children into the world! Overcoming a long-held fear! Food delivery apps!)
Me? I don’t remember a time when my brain didn’t immediately associate the phrase “It’s been a while” with the 2001 Staind song of the same name.
I’m at a loss as to how I got to this point. Sometime in the past year I was talking to my partner and, upon saying “It’s been a while” like a regular, normal person, I stopped to repeat the phrase in an exaggerated Aaron-Lewis-from-Staind voice with such enthusiasm that it wound up sounding uncomfortably close to Scott Stapp from Creed. It was like that recurring bit from Comedy Bang Bang. Scott Aukerman has the curse too.
Things escalated when Aaron Lewis took some time out from having run-ins with fans, denouncing various Democrats and dismissing gun control to confirm Staind would be reforming for a couple of US festivals.
I don’t think it really matters what clinched it. The song and phrase are now one; two lives forever entwined in the deep recesses of my mind. And if nothing else, I need you to know this.
This song haunts me.
Research suggests you can learn a new word in 14 minutes if you repeat it 160 times. Did you know Aaron Lewis says “It’s been a while” 14 times throughout the song’s four-and-a-half-minute duration? It’s the kind of thing you learn when you hear the same song in your head every time someone says “It’s been a while”.
And it’s said a lot, by the way. You could say it has not been a while since I heard someone say “It’s been a while”. (Please don’t though, the phrase is deeply traumatic.) The mere suggestion of it in conversation is enough to trigger a mental rendition of the slow-burning nu-metal hit (the lead single from – I kid you not – the album Break The Cycle).
In a cruel act of betrayal, my brain has trained itself to look for it at any and every opportunity. Those close to me have started to shoot knowing looks. Did I spread this curse?
I am at a loose end. Send help.
Buddy, I will never know peace again.
I’ve reached a point where I’m in so deep I’ve lost all perspective. Is it a good song? Was it ever? Is this like the time I mentioned Nickelback “have a couple of bangers” and nearly got kicked off the work music trivia team?
There’s no doubt it was a commercial success: “It’s Been Awhile” is the only Staind track to crack the Billboard 100 Top 10 (it peaked at #5) and it spent a then-record 16 weeks at #1 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.
If you believe Staind lore in the form of a Facebook post from 2010 and this A.V. Club article I found, “It’s Been Awhile” was the most played rock radio song of the decade with more than 189,000 plays. That’s 2.64 million “It’s been a while”s.
There is much to dislike about all of this, let alone the fact that the song title isn’t grammatically correct – Grammarly uses it as their prime example of how not to use the word “awhile”. But I think I might be expecting too much from a band named Staind.
Am I to blame here? Look, you could say I played a minor role when my attempt to employ the “saturate and seek closure” method instead embedded the song in my head like a well-placed gif. But it seems easier to point fingers at Aaron Lewis and his Staindmates, and it’s even more fun to point them at Fred Durst for discovering and giving us Staind in the first place.
At the end of the day I must acknowledge that The Staind Effect has spread into every facet of my life, at work and at home. It is my albatross; it is my Achilles’ heel. I will hear Aaron Lewis singing out his feelings every single time someone tells me “It’s been a while”.
Maybe now it’ll happen to you. If the era of chain letters taught me anything, it’s that if something bad is happening to you, you should share it with everyone you know.