By Jim Fusco:
Tonight, another event in my ongoing tribute entitled, “Steven Page, we hardly knew ye.” Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies has been traumatic for me, musically. It’s like if John left the Beatles and the band went on without him. They’d still be a great band with three songwriters, singers, and musicians, but you would always wonder if they’ll ever get back together, etc…
At first, I likened Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies after 20 years to Brian Wilson taking a self-inflicted leave from the Beach Boys starting in late 1967. But, I then realized that Page leaving BNL is much worse in a way, but better in another.
You see, when Brian Wilson stopped making music with the Beach Boys on a regular basis (and being the producer), the other Boys (Carl, Dennis, Mike, Al, and Bruce) hadn’t really been accomplished songwriters yet. I mean, it took them until 1968 to really put together an album and it definitely sounds like a first effort in many ways. We were all just lucky to discover five brilliant songwriters behind Brian Wilson. In many ways, for me, Brian recessing in the Beach Boys contributes to my love of the band because, well, they really became a band after that. You had five songwriting members that played instruments and sang and went out and played concerts- that incarnation of the Beach Boys is almost unsurpassed, for me.
With Steven Page, he leaves the band with three accomplished songwriters (especially Ed Robertson, with a #1 single in “One Week” under his belt) and some fine singers, to boot. So, BNL has a bit of a head-start. In fact, there shouldn’t be too much of a hiccup, other than Page’s recent flurry of depressing songs and over-the-top oparetta vocals.
The thing that makes Page’s absence worse is that, at least for the forseeable future, it’s permanent. With the Beach Boys, Brian was always still around in some form. He always contributed at least one song to every album, even if they had to dig it up and force him to complete it. Fans would always hope for the next Brian Wilson gem and it was comforting to know he was there, readying himself for a possible comeback that never really came. Of course, I say this like I was there- I wasn’t even alive until after Brian’s amazingly talented brother Dennis died- I’m just speaking from what I’ve read in the past.
So, after that whole explanation, I’m really trying to say that I’m having a hard time getting over the restructuring of my second-all-time favorite band. Tonight’s video is a little tribute to Steven Page.
“Shoe Box” (which I always thought was “Shoebox”) was a single and had its own EP (with includes a decent song in “Trust Me’) and served as a bridge between the style of the first three albums and the albums to follow (starting with “Stunt”). The song was also on “Born On A Pirate Ship” in a much more subdued tone, much to that version’s detriment. The rockin’ single version is my choice, and that’s what I did my video after. How can you tell them apart? Well, the album verison just starts off with the instruments and vocals at the same time. The single goes through the chord progression before Steven Page starts in.
Listen to the words closely on this one- a very interesting message to it. Also, you may have to look up the words, as it took Chris and I about five years to realize that he’s not saying, “And Rumplestiltskin side my shoe box!” and is in fact saying, “When talk turns to single malts and Stilton and my shoe box!” Who would’ve thought?
Okay- a long post tonight to make up for last week. Tomorrow night, I have a BIG announcement about my new album and that just means more work for me. So, you’ll have to stay tuned until another all-new Original Wednesday comes your way! Have a great night and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!