Riding around in a Volkswagen van
Thinking ’bout the people upside down in Japan
I grew up on three-quarters of an acre, not uncommon in the suburbs, and I distinctly remember lying on my back staring at the sun in the backyard contemplating if I just dug deep enough I’d end up in Japan, although I wondered if it was a direct shot, or whether I’d end up in India or Russia…
Lying on the floor just playing my guitar
Trying to find the chords for ‘Just The Way You Are’
We all had guitars. We’d sit in front of our Dual turntables with pitch adjustment, tune our records to our instruments and try to figure out the chords, writing them down on yellow legal pads.
Sometimes I think I might just move up to Vermont
Open a bookstore or a vegan restaurant
And now I’m laughing.
For some reason the Apple app lists songs by artist, I know, it’s confounding, but that’s when I found out I had so many Fountains of Wayne songs on my phone, all from the album “Welcome Interstate Managers.” You know how it is, there’s an album that catches your attention that you play and end up knowing, this is the one, with “Stacy’s Mom.”
It was a big hit on MTV when that still mattered, before it bit the dust in the wake of video online.
Funny how songs go through your brain. And you need to hear them. That’s how it was with “Peace and Love” the past few days. I’d also been singing “All Kinds Of Time” to myself too, which got some action with the NFL, but I knew it before.
And I’m doing my back exercises marveling at the sound and lyrics of these Fountains of Wayne songs thinking how it used to be different, how music television could rescue you from obscurity, how labels paid for you to get it right in the studio, how erudition used to have a place in the music business before everybody with a brain went into tech or finance.
Actually, Williams graduates Darlingside are following in their fellow alumni’s footsteps, have you heard their track “Hold Your Head High,” it’s worth it, not that Darlingside is the exact same band, it’s just that they’re smart: https://spoti.fi/2KNFjb2
Maybe it started with Frank Zappa, in the rock era anyway. You cracked up when you heard the words. “You Didn’t Try To Call Me”… “Status Back Baby”…
Being smart was not anathema. And unlike Gene Simmons, no one was bragging about how intelligent they were, you could just hear it in the music.
Maybe it was a different era, when we had all kinds of time. When we’d lie on our beds, on the floor, and stare at the ceiling as we listened, over and over again. Now people are overscheduled, they’re getting pings on their phone, they never disengage, marinate in the experience. Maybe this is why TV is so big, you’ve got to pay attention, for an hour, for the series you’re watching on binge.
And the funny thing is I enjoy these Fountains of Wayne songs even more now than then, sure, it’s nostalgia for my own life, but they hearken back to a comprehensible era, when you could make fun of the mainstream and there was enough cohesiveness for people to get the joke, when if you could write lyrics and music with changes, imperfect vocals could be overlooked, whereas today people sing bland songs perfectly, or have thin voices and forgettable lyrics.
Maybe it takes money.
Maybe it takes education.
Maybe it takes promotion.
Maybe it takes a willingness to question.
Maybe it takes a willingness to go on your own path.
But now Adam Schlesinger paints on a much smaller canvas, in theatre and television.
We need people like this up front.