Last night all the horrible... (or how I learned to stop worrying & love the dears, part one)

The Smiths have a song called Panic, which features one of the most quoted lines in Smithdom, the simple and direct "Hang the DJ!." My argument has always been that something in the line that follows is much more important and that is, "(The music they constantly play...) it says nothing to me about my life". What could be truer than that? I can say I still cling to those lines when someone's trying to sell me on something that for whatever reason, isn't flipping the reptile switch. There's no words to love, no voice to care about, no musicianship to champion and failing all these things, NO PERSONALITY THERE TO INTRIGUE.

Horribly personal confession number #12. I am a lousy music fan. I have a complex yet completely nonsensical inner method of rating musical acts. The most important requirements are a) the sound is great to ME, b) the personalities behind the music are interesting to ME and c) does it say something to ME about my life? Basically, it's all about ME and I only need 2 of the 3. Does that make me an untrustworthy source? Perhaps. But really when it comes down to it, if I listened to everything based on sounds alone, I wouldn't be able to hold down a job. It's bad enough as it is. I need some qualifiers.

I have been known to stop caring about a band if I see them out in public acting like great big tits. Or talking un-ironically about all the models they're banging in various magazine interviews. Conversely, I will grudgingly accept a band/musician if I think their story is winning enough. I'm serious. If I hear somebody or other was cleaning toilets at gas stations to support their one-legged father, all while struggling to record a demo, then no matter how lame it is, I'll have this very forgiving attitude of ah, well, they seem nice. Will I listen to it devotedly? No. but I'll be interested to hear what it sounds like and then be tolerant of its mediocrity in a way that I wouldn't extend to better bands with a happier background story involving ski vacations and ponies. Shallow? Petty? Sentimental? It's true and I won't hide my prejudices. I can't separate the stories from the musos, which is why lately I have been trying not to remember too much about musicians I like. To be fairer, I suppose.

I was not a carefree adolescent. I was a short, bespectacled immigrant. I was not blonde or popular and I dressed funny* to boot. I was a poor kid in a school full of children that lived in houses affectionately nicknamed "home sweet MOMA". I felt a complete disconnect from my surroundings in a way that led me to buy import music magazines every month and dream of moving to England, the only! Place! Where! Music! Mattered! (As evidenced by my then-recent discovery of The Cure, Joy Division/New Order, etc...) THEN I found The Smiths. When I first heard Morrissey, singing about his arrogance, loneliness and spectacular lack of sexual nerve with his trademark florid, operatic self-absorption, I said that's me, mom! I too, am an emotional wallflower and wreck! That says everything to me about my life! I am totally arrogant yet completely insecure too! Yipee!

Time passes, people grow up. Some of us graduate from listening to the solipsistic angst music of our formative years to the more acceptable global angst ditties of today. NEVERTHELESS, people don't change all that much. When I heard last year that there was some weirdo Canuck named Murray (Murray, feh chrissakes!) Lightburn who has been leading a band with a revolving lineup around the Montreal scene for the past 10 years and oh, he's got a serious Steven P. Morrissey obsession and eh, sounds a bit like him, NATURALLY, I was won over without having heard a note. Already, I was best pals with this Murray. In a "meet ya for a drink, then go watch Withnail & I for, like, the 5 billionth time, argue about The Severed Alliance over pints or tea cups, depending on the time" musician fantasy sorta way. I looked at his picture, a scowling, older guy in a group of attractive youngsters. My buddy Murray. I haven't heard his band yet but I'm sure they must be great, I chirped to my co-worker. she looked disinterested.

Let me backtrack, my "drink buddy" fantasy only goes so far. For example, take Pavement, I LOVE me some Pavement. The fact that I can recall most of those Malkmusian lyrics is a testament to their powerful hold on me considering my memory has been the first thing to go. Now, would I ever have drinks with Stephen Malkmus? Of course not. That man is the epitome of ski break. I'd get this feeling that he would be trying to place me, maybe I cleaned his parent's house? Worked in the university lunchroom? In a hair net? Something like that. Does this stop me from listening to Pavement? No, because "here we go, she's on a hidden tableau, just a 2 for 1, and the 2 for 1 is right" is enough for me. Same goes for Morrissey even, I still love him, but drinks are out of the question. I eat meat. Lots of it. 'Nuff said.

Anywho, back to the topic at hand, eventually I heard my new friend Murray's band, The Dears' new single. I found Lost in the Plot on one of those NME samplers I'm guilty of buying because it's like my CRACK, see, and I immediately loved-ded-ded it. I laughed at the slavish Moz-ness, not just the peculiarly prissy turns of phrase but the unusual emphasis in a lyric, the way a word like "anymore" couldn't just end but has to be drawn out in a rococo moan of "anymoooooaawoaoaore, aaaw-oore, aaaw-ore, aaaaoooore, ooooore..." as the song inches to a close... Fantastic! I remember telling Jared about it and him saying sneeringly** that he wasn't down with that shit. But really, why be a hatah? What's wrong with sounding like the most reassuring voice of my youth? To me, this is lullaby city. But I realize that my sentimental attachments are another man's derivative, so what can you do?

You go see them live.

To be continued...

* Still true, actually

** Jared claims he "did not sneer", to which I say, yes, he did.

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Blogger Kirsten said...

You are captivating.

"Plot" is the only Dears song I know. I don't remember many things and certainly not where I heard it but at the time I couldn't explain to myself why I liked it?

When things with accents promise not to cry, I tend to pay attention (unless they're Japanese Goth bands. Moaning evokes, whining annoys.)

If it moans I will listen. If it moaned in the 80's, I will dance. If Simon le bon read me a tax form I'd moan with him.

Which has nothing to do with the Dears, I realize. I am going off tangent...

10:59 AM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger d said...

regarding the durani tax forms, you should talk to jenny p of www.fireballsandtsunami.com fame.

parts 2 & 3 will be about the live show & album. the short version is this: worth checking out.

12:07 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger punk ass g said...

One: Doesn't everybody view everything in terms of how it relates to/affects themselves? Don't be so hard on yourself, we're all only lookin' out for number one and we all take it personally when the objects of our adoration behave in ways we find yucky.

Two: Give Jared time, I'm sure he'll be extolling the virtues of the Dears in no time. They are a band YOU like after all. (meow!)

12:41 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger d said...

1. oh, I'm not giving myself a hard time. I just think I'd be a better music fan if I were less judgemental & ornery & more objective. or fan is the wrong word...connoisseur perhaps? naturally, everyone wants to feel a part of the things they enjoy but is that really necessary all the time or kinda juvenile? but I'm jumping ahead of the rest of the post. wait until parts 2 & 3.

2. wait is that a dis on me or jared? I can't tell... jared likes 'em ok. I just played him the dears' big musical theatre duet. we're all suckers in one way or another.

1:06 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger punk ass g said...

that was a dis on jared. sorry jared.

11:32 AM, April 09, 2005  

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