Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Playlist Week Day 3 -- The Barenaked Ladies

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

For a long time, the Barenaked Ladies were my favourite band. At some point, that stopped being true, but I never lost all interest. They're the ex-girlfriend that I'm still friends with. That good friend you get together with every few months and have a fantastic time with, but then don't see again for another six months. Just the way it is. They can do jokey, they can do smart, they can do emotional... they can do funky, they can do rock, they can do pop. I still haven't heard their latest album beyond the first single (money issues -- it's on my Christmas list) and I'm curious to know how the Steven Page-less band sounds. As this list shows, my tastes tended to run towards Page's contributions.

1. "Brian Wilson" (1992) from Gordon: I didn't know who Brian Wilson was before this song. I knew the Beach Boys, sure, but not the man. This is just a great song. The band was more famous for "If I Had $1000000" but this was always their true 'anthem' song for me.

2. "What a Good Boy" (1992) from Gordon: A song about the weird gender politics and the bullshit we dump on our kids. This song touched something in me when I was in high school and sometimes struggled with the expectations of being the 'smart kid.' Odds are, those expectations were more my doing than anyone else's, but everyone struggles with the labels placed upon them (whether by others or themselves).

3. "Life, in a Nutshell" (1994) from Maybe You Should Drive: This is my favourite BNL album. They made an effort in some ways to move away from the funnier, lighter side of Gordon and there's some real struggling with the early 20s here, I think. This song is upbeat and great and just about having a really solid relationship that's going well. It's probably the most 'mature' song on the album.

4. "The Old Apartment" (1996) from Born on a Pirate Ship: A 'you can't go home again' song... strong playing on the instruments and the odd funny line, this song hit me a new way when I moved away from home. Even going back to my parents' place is a different experience. I love my life now, but there's something sad about losing that old home.

5. "One Week" (1998) from Stunt: How can you ignore the song that made the band 'overnight' superstars in the US?

6. "Conventioneers" (2000) from Maroon: This a funky, almost loungey song... a song that sounds like it should be used to seduce a woman if the lyrics didn't send the exact opposite message by the end. But, the end of the song is great as it shows how a flirty, sexually-charged relationship can exist... until sex is actually had and then what? It was all just empty flirtation with nothing underneath. Never had that experience myself, but I imagine it could be very awkward.

7. "Shopping" (2003) from Everything to Everyone: "Everything will always be all right when we go shopping." A song that's just about mocking George Bush and the Republicans for that 'shopping to fight terrorism' bullshit, this song is also incredibly catchy. It's just plain fun to sing. I once wrote a comic script where the centrepiece of the issue was a giant musical dance number in a mall with this as the song that everyone sings.

8. "Sound of Your Voice" (2006) from Barenaked Ladies are Me: Some rockin' guitars kick this one off and it's weird to know that this is a Kevin Hearn song that he passed along to Page to sing. This song has hit that personal spot with me where the chorus makes me think of the days Michelle is out of town or I'm out of town or whatever. Sure, it's a song about a guy who fucked up and screwed up his relationship... but, for me, it's just about missing that person you love. Missing them being around. You get oddly used to them. I also like the line "This little song is about second chances."

9. "I Can I Will I Do" (2007) from Barenaked Ladies are Men: A similar vibe to "Conventioneers," I love the way Page sings the title line.

10. "You Run Away" (2010) from All in Good Time: Is this the "Cannonball" of BNL? I do like how they made the first single about Page's leaving the band. It's a decent song and the underlying emotion carries it.

Tomorrow: Ryan Adams

2 comments:

klynb said...

Have you heard Steven Page's new album yet? Blows "You Run Away" out of the water.

Chad Nevett said...

Haven't gotten it yet, no. I plan to, of course. I'm just way behind on my albums.