''You wish!'' Growing up, this was a popular phrase in my hometown invariably delivered as a (we thought) witty response to simple questions and requests like ''Can I have one of those Pringles?'' or ''Would you unhook my underwear from this doorknob please?!'' This was usually accompanied by a smack to the back of the head; the resulting biff! nicely punctuated the sentiment.
Well, I recently experienced the all-too-familiar slap. You see, I always wanted to be a rock star. And so did my friend Matt. We grew up in Oak Park, Ill., and have been pals for 17 years. We were in a band of some sort together for seven of them.
Today, Matt is one of the two Friedbergers who make up the hugely buzzworthy band the Fiery Furnaces. He plays guitar, bass, and keyboards; his sister, Eleanor, sings. Andy Knowles and Toshi Yano round out the group, with Andy on drums and Toshi on bass, guitar, and keyboards. 2003's Gallowsbird's Bark made many music critics' top 10 lists. And this year's Blueberry Boat is drawing praise from all corners most notably from alt-country heavy hitters Wilco, for whom the Furnaces recently opened two sold-out nights at New York's storied Radio City Music Hall. So one of us, it turns out, actually became a rock star. And it wasn't me. ''You wish,'' I hear the gods say, just before a cosmic hand descends from the heavens. Biff!
As for Matt, playing Radio City must have been the ultimate thrill, right? ''I remember when I was in junior high, fantasizing about talking to a rock journalist,'' confesses Matt to a slightly stunned me, who, if not a rock journalist, is something pretty darn close. ''I remember thinking, Oooh, I wish one day... what would I say?'' Whatever he's saying, he's saying a lot, getting calls from writers from all over the world, which, he says, is ''the biggest wish fulfillment.''
Speaking of wish fulfillment: In your hands is Listen2This' first annual Wish List issue, dedicated to the desires of our readers and their favorite artists. Now, would somebody please unhook my underwear from this doorknob?