29 September 2004

so, yeah, smile is out in record stores, thirty-seven years after its conception. but william shatner can top that -- it's taken him THIRTY-SIX YEARS to record his sophomore album. well, maybe it doesn't top that, but it does beat my bloody valentine, guns & roses, and the stone roses combined.

"that's me trying" was penned by the unusual writing team of nick hornby and ben folds, with aimee mann on backing vocals b/c, when you hear the song, if you hear the song, you'll realize that this is exactly the sort of thing she does. i'm not a big fan, or, indeed, a fan at all, of either of the musicians involved: indeed, out of the three here who have recording contracts, my favorite recording is "mr. tambourine man." so, of course, the cynical reaction is to think that this will be some unholy synthesis of about a boy, "brick," and the magnolia ost and that's even without accounting for shatner. a few minutes in, mildly enjoying the track i mentally composed a short review: "wow, this song really makes me wish i had a child i'd abandoned just so i could try to make up with her."

but, holy shit, out of nowhere, this thing moved me. it's like david ackles' "down river," except about a kid, about a girl (quiet -- i'm trying to be serious). basically, it comes down to shatner as actor and the listener's ability to believe him. perhaps it's just me, and i apologize mr. shatner, but i can see shatner as deadbeat dad easier than i can see shatner as jarvis cocker (which is another song, and another story.) sample lyric:

how about this: let's choose a book and we'll read it before we meet,
then we can sit down at a restaurant, have a look at the menu, and talk about it while we eat.

see ... if we never had a problem, then that's what life would be like.

he speaks, he doesn't sing, this is shatner being shatner, not being richard harris; shatner as personality, shatner as pitchman -- but more than that, this is shatner the pitchman in the service of shatner, the man, a man who has know pain: the record draws a remarkably thin line between the two. the latter subsumes the former by song's close. in one of the bigger musical surprises of 2004, even more so than the cover of "common people," "that's me trying" does something that never entered my mind prior to hitting play: it makes me feel.

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