Editor's Note: An abridged version of this article appears in this week's issue, featuring 100 Songs that Defined Arizona. In celebration of Arizona's centennial, we spoke with local music icon Sara Cina about one of the earliest songs of renowned Tempe band Gin Blossoms.
"All the lines you wrote to me were lies/The months roll past the love that you struck dead/Did you love me only in my head?"
Having spent close to 15 years booking the old Long Wong's on Mill Avenue, Sara Cina played a huge role in Tempe's vibrant music heyday of the '90s.
She was as much a part of the venerated Mill Avenue dive -- an epicenter of the jangle-pop era that hosted local heavyweights like The Refreshments, The Beat Angels, and Dead Hot Workshop seven nights a week for more than a decade -- as its graffiti-covered walls or the colorful mural of memorable regular Elvis "The Cat" Del Monte.
As such, her favorite locally produced song from the last century is one of the bigger hits by Long Wong's most favorite sons. Namely, "Found Out About You" by Gin Blossoms.
Written in the late '80s by the late Doug Hopkins, a founding member of the band who penned most of their early hits, the melancholic song first appeared on the band's debut album, Dusted, and later was one of the hit singles (second only to "Hey Jealousy") on its breakthrough 1993 disc, New Miserable Experience.
Owning up to her longtime friendship with Hopkins, who endured a lifelong battle with depression and committed suicide in 1993 after being kicked out of the band due to his alcoholism, Cina says she'd heard the wistful lyrics and ambling, melancholic chords long it became a Billboard hit and a staple of alt-rock radio. "Doug wrote that song before...everything," she says.
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"It even predates the Gin Blossoms. I know what it's about. I know who he wrote it for."
It's always been a very personal and beautiful song for her, she says.
"It's always had a different meaning to me. It's as if it were a person, someone who I knew when it was very little before they grow up and go off and succeed in the world," Cina says. "I've watched a lot of really great bands write songs, but not many of those songs [have] gone out into the world to be heard by lots and lots of people."