Throwback Track: “Know Your Onion!” by The Shins

By Avneet Sharma, Featured Photo via Netflix

I first heard The Shins’ song “Know Your Onion!” when it was used in one of my favourite episodes of Gilmore Girls. The episode, “Like Mother, Like Daughter”, included a scene with Rory Gilmore sitting alone in the high school cafeteria at lunch, reading and listening to “Know Your Onion!” on her Walkman. This scene was especially formative for me as a high schooler who wasn’t necessarily a social butterfly. I was more like Lara Jean from To All the Boys I Loved Before, except I never found a Peter Kavinsky to save me from spending my Saturday nights binge-watching TV shows (i.e. Gilmore Girls).

What I dreaded the most in the tenth grade was that I had no one to sit with during my lunch periods. But, I did the impossible: I sat alone in the high school cafeteria and read (probably Franny and Zooey, if I recall correctly), while my iPod played “Know Your Onion!”. The song captures teenage angst and nostalgia so effectively, but it isn’t some embarrassing whiny pop-punk anthem that I wouldn’t listen to today. In fact, most of The Shins’ early albums continue to hold up as well-done, nostalgic pieces full of high school memories.

In the eleventh grade, I wrote and directed my own play for my school’s fringe festival about two guys who initially connect with each other over shared music taste. They both loved The Shins. Though I kept their relationship subtle, it was the first gay romantic comedy I’ve ever written.

The play was titled “Know Your Onion!”.

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