The Eleven Main Reasons the Band Broke Up

Amorak Huey

1. Fairly obvious to say we weren’t good. The gap between “love something enough to make it a practice” and “if you love something enough it means you don’t have to practice” was too much to overcome. That’s the gap between Jimmy and Shane. Having two lead guitarists was never going to work, but we thought it would be what made us different.

2. Sparrow. Two of us loved her, another one of us slept with her, the fourth one hated her. She was always around and then she was never around. The way she moved between us without touching, all long skirts and longing looks, the way she was the only person we knew who admitted not believing in God. Later she became a devout Catholic and chair of her county’s Republican party, so I guess we weren’t the only ones still working ourselves out. 

3. I do blame myself, yeah, and also my parents for never making me take piano. Imagine how much more I would have known about rhythm, about timing. I taught myself to imitate drum solos but didn’t learn until too late that it’s the drummer’s job to hold everyone else together. In first-period physics, Jimmy would complain to me about Shane. Third-period lunch, Shane would complain about Jimmy. I understand, yeah, I get it, I would say to both of them. 

4. None of us probably ever said this aloud, but we thought Brett was too good-looking. Thought he made the rest of us look bad, the singer/bass player with ridiculously beautiful eyes. We didn’t know that was the formula, that there needs to be a Brett, that having a Brett is what gets you on stage in the first place, and that there’s always room for only one. We all wanted to be Brett, though again none of us would have admitted it. 

5. It should shock exactly no one that Brett is the only one Sparrow ever touched. 

6. Jimmy and I, we never got over that.

7. Shane didn’t give a shit, of course, and I thought he was kind of an asshole about Sparrow most of the time. So weird to me that he didn’t see her the way I did—transcendent, ethereal. I thought he was jealous that she was so clearly bigger than any of the rest of us, so clearly out of place in our stifling hometown, our repressive school with its dress codes and hair-length rules. He thought she was arrogant and phony. He might have been jealous, but probably he wasn’t wrong. Weren’t we all arrogant and phony in some combination? How else would we have survived? 

8. We were a band for exactly five months, between February and July of 1988: the future pride of Fairhope, Alabama, we liked to say. We had exactly two original songs—one I wrote for Sparrow called “Love Is a Robin’s Egg,” and one Jimmy wrote for Sparrow called “Jesus Wept (Love Song).” We had exactly two gigs: the senior talent show, where we did a cover of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher,” and Ken Davies’ graduation party, where we did “Hot for Teacher” again, then both of our songs, and closed with a singalong “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” which we’d practiced exactly twice but had heard on the radio approximately one million times. That night was the first time Sparrow and Brett slept together, upstairs in the Davies’ master bedroom. Jimmy and I sat on the edge of Ken’s pool, drinking beers, reliving the performance and being jealous as hell.

9. The closest I came with Sparrow was one night in the front seat of my car in the Taco Bell parking lot. One of those conversations where I would twist everything I said around immediately to agree with her take on whatever it was. I know I said something like people make too big a deal about sex, trying for cool and casual, and she said something like no I think it’s a huge deal, like the biggest decision two people can make together, and I said like, I mean, me too, of course, I’m just saying the way some people talk about it, and she said yeah. I kept thinking we might kiss. We didn’t. What a conversation, though. Her friend Bronwen told me the next day that Sparrow had called her when she got home and said she’d found the man she would marry someday. I floated around on that happiness for a couple days, but Sparrow was on vacation with her parents, and when she came back, we’d moved on to the part where she was never around, so who knows.

10. A while later, when she was off in Tuscaloosa and I was working at the vet clinic and taking classes at the junior college, she wrote me a letter saying how special that conversation was, how special I was, how I deserved someone much better than her. I showed Jimmy the letter, probably thinking it was some kind of victory for me, trying to salvage something out of the grief I was feeling, and he said she’d told him pretty much the same thing once when he tried to kiss her goodnight.

11. Brett left first, rolling his eyes and walking out one night when Jimmy and Shane were arguing about Metallica again. That turned out to be our last practice as a band. Brett came back a time or two, but either Jimmy or Shane was missing. The last time it was just me and Jimmy. I guess it’s over, I said. It was over before it started, he said, it was never really a thing in the first place. I don’t know, I said, the songs weren’t too bad. He nodded. We sat there for a while, wondering how they might have sounded if only we’d known how to play them.

Amorak Huey is author of four books of poems including Dad Jokes from Late in the Patriarchy (Sundress, 2021). Co-founder with Han VanderHart of River River Books, Huey teaches at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He also is co-author with W. Todd Kaneko of the textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2024). Follow him on X at @amorak.

Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash

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