"So it seems I must have won
As I survey the ashes of the damage that I've done.
Everyone I've ever known, is just as closed off and alone."
-- Barenaked Ladies
Many of you know I am rather fond of the band Barenaked Ladies. Some of you don't get it (like Amy and my husband) and others of you are right lock step with me in your shared admiration of the band.
They've been a band for twenty years, and during that have only gone through one roster change when Andy Creegan left and Kevin Hearn came in to fill his position at the keyboards. For that stretch of time, they've made pop music that is entertaining, insightful, sometimes ridiculous ("Another Postcard") and sometimes so poignant that you worry about the songwriter's mental health ("This is how it ends," "War on drugs...").
Band members did their own side projects, from raising families, to other bands (Kevin Hearn and ThinBuckle, The Brothers Creegan, The Vanity Project), to Ed's foray into TV with his "Ed's Up" show on the Canadian OLN network. This is show akin to "Dirty Jobs" with far less of a yuk factor, and Ed flying his cute little airplane to different places all over Canada to take on the hard jobs that he has never had to do in his entire life. (By the way, if you go to the website that I link to above, it's a lot of fun. I highly recommend it. But I digress).
They'd circle back around, record another album, do some shows, and be a five piece band again. After "Stunt" and "Maroon" they released the not quite successful "Everything to Everyone" and their popularity kind of waned as the subsequent years have passed. They released "Barenaked Ladies Are Me" were one of the very first bands to sell the live show THAT NIGHT onto a thumbdrive. Audience members would purchase a thumb drive and go home with the show they just attended right in their hands, right at that moment.
But over 20 years, things can change. And this week they announced that Steven Page is going on his own, and the rest of the band will continue as Barenaked Ladies.
Most of this week in my free time I trolled the discussion boards. The range of emotion and response was amazing.
There were the devastated Steve fans. They love the band for Steve and pretty much Steve alone. They connect most strongly to him and his quirkiness, his awkwardness, his history of sadness and depression and the darkness of his songwriting. Steve's songwriting and his voice have seen them through the hardest and headiest of times.
There were the "good riddance you artsy fartsy political pain in the ass" types who felt like Steve and his Shakespeare play scores and other "high art" kinds of experiences he was getting into were just holding back the band.
There were those who were relieved to see him go, and some are sad for it and others just ... relieved. They are not expressing any further why they feel this way. They will not expound on their thoughts or feelings, and they're totally keeping mum on the situation.
There were those who have been on 3 cruises with the band and knew "something was up" and that this was "inevitable." A lot of people pointed at Steve's divorce, his new girlfriend, his "bizarre" appearance and behavior on last year's cruise, his drug use (arrested in upstate NY this summer for cocaine possession). Many wondered aloud if the band had just about had enough of the New Steve.
And the whole new girlfriend thing opened up a whole discussion of the delicious irony of their first hit "You can be my Yoko Ono." Some people pointed directly at her and her influence on him, others sang "don't blame it on Yokie!"
There was a lot of questioning, a lot of pondering, a lot of suppose this and suppose that going on. Speculation ran rampant. It was an active week of discussion, and everyone who either saw it coming or didn't see it coming shared how they felt.
And now there is a lot of acceptance, and going forwardness. I'm very glad for the online community and the honesty of a lot of fans. I also read articles online where the writers likened this to "If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone give a damn?" The whole "BNL is irrelevant" and "what, they were still together in the first place? Who Knew?" kind of article was all over the place and it made me sick. At least with a core group of fans who love and care for the band, there was a place to go for commiseration, tea and sympathy. Or bending an arm hard with several Molsons over the course of the week.
How do I feel? Initially I was devastated. Completely hijacked by this news. I couldn't figure out how all of a sudden in a band that always had done a great job of giving each member leeway to do side projects (like the Stratford Shakespeare stuff or Thin Buckle etc...) there would be "conflict" and "scheduling" issues. It is like Bruce Springsteen quitting .... Bruce Springsteen. Not just the E-street Band. Quitting himself. I see Steve so much a part of this band that it was just stunning to me to think of him not being in it anymore.
I got the feeling it was bigger than scheduling or artistic interests. That like his marriage, he'd outgrown the band. He was no longer "in love." This band wasn't where it was at for him anymore.
I also wondered if the band was relieved to see him go, so they could continue to do their "thing."
I don't blame his "Yoko" at all. I've actually emailed a few times with her through flickr and while I don't know her at all from anyone else on the planet, I don't think she woke up one morning and said "I'd like to destroy a pop band."
This is on him; it is his decision. He's a grown assed man who makes his own destiny. And he's actively doing that and I bless him for it. I can only wish him happiness as a fan. I loved his score for "As You Like It" and wished that I'd been able to go see it in Stratford Ontario when they did it in 2005, like so many other fans.
Steve said that it's the best of both worlds really, double your pleasure. You get to keep the band you love, and if you care to follow his artistic career, you can. And I think I will. I didn't like the CD that he released as The Vanity Project because I thought it sounded overproduced. The stuff I heard him do solo and acoustic off the album sounded beautiful and wonderful, so I would definitely go see him solo as a singer songwriter.
And I will positively be seeing my boy Ed with the band, continuing on. Yeah, I know I'll never get to hear "Break Your Heart" or "What A Good Boy" again with Steve belting it out. I only got to hear "Powder Blue" once, and that was epic. I sure as hell hope the band doesn't "replace" Steve with anyone because I so don't think that is appropriate.
There was a comment on the boards that said in five years when Steve realizes the epic mistake he's made and he comes crawling back to do a reunion tour, they hope the band politely gives him the finger. I don't think that would be appropriate. I'd like to see them perform again. And only time will tell.
In the meantime. Go Ed. Rock on with that mighty blue sparkly guitar of yours. And stand in the front in the center. It's weird that there is no more "Ed side" and "Steve side" discussion to be had when it comes to getting concert tickets and evaluating where one will end up... Every side is Ed Side. And I'm cool with that.
Can't wait to hear what they come out with on their next album, and I can't wait to see them live on stage again.
While I'm taking this change (not a break up but a change) in stride, my son is not. Geoff is so mad.
The way he sees it is that Steve is a selfish, stupid baby. He's abandoning his friends, his BEST friends, and that is the worst thing you can ever EVER do in the mindset of a 12 year old boy.
"Who does he think he IS!!??" Geoff yelled at the radio when we listened to an interview with Steve about why this is happening. "He's a total jerk! He is so full of lies!"
I like my son's passion. But it's a good thing Doug and I aren't getting a divorce or breaking up or I'm not going on a solo career, because man alive, his wrath is vicious. He said he will never go see the band ever again. He hates Steve. Barenaked Ladies is not Barenaked Ladies without Steve, and he doesn't care what they do next.
We'll see if he's still this angry when the band comes around with new material and they perform old songs penned by and sung lead by Ed (there are PLENTY of them, which is what will keep the band alive).
Anyway, sorry that went on for so long. When one doesn't blog for two weeks, a lot goes down.
We're expecting about 17 inches of snow tonight. I really had hoped that winter was over, but I realize that here in New England one should not get one's hopes up before April 1, much less March 17th. Still, I had driven past several homes on my commute to work and their snow-free yards were groomed and ready for spring. People had gone out and raked and swept up all the gross sand from in front of their houses and sidewalks. Things were getting ready. And now they have to be gotten ready again. It sucks.
We still have snow here in our yard but it is more a sheet of ice where the house casts a shadow all day and prevents the snow from truly going away. It melts, refreezes, melts a little more and refreezes again.
So there will be 17 inches of snow by morning. Doug will probably HAVE to snowblow and I know he won't want to. Jess did al her homework so we are pretty much guaranteed a snow day tomorrow. We spent the day yesterday and today cleaning up. My college roommate's husband and their daughter (Chris and Sarah) were supposed to be here this afternoon for an event at a local college where Sarah is maybe going. But it got cancelled. When we got word of that, Jess and Geoff were disappointed, not because they were looking forward to the visit but because I had them help me clean. And boy did they clean. The study looks immaculate (thank you Jess) and Geoff did everything I asked him to do.
Best part was when Jess in her zeal vacuumed up a sock. And now it is stuck in the vacuum hose and we cannot get it out. Nice Play, Shakespeare. Whatever.
It's hard to convince them that it wasn't for nothing. I like a cleaner house. But I can't clean this house alone. Every time I clean something, something else gets uncleaned, well not just something else it is usually 2 or 3 something elses. So right now, the house is wonderfully passable. There are projects I want to get to like cleaning my bedroom and reorganizing and rearranging it... but I never get to those. I feel like I need a team of people who never get sick of cleaning and reorganizing.
And that team currently does not live with me.
Alrighty then. Enough of this palaver. More later.