Disclaimer: This article is rated PG-13 for the brief violent but bitch-slapping of a man who doesn't deserve his paycheck.
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Hello, everybody, and welcome to the latest edition of The Stage. First of all, let me apologize for the delay. It seems that inspiration has been striking me less and less lately. Too many things are going on in my life right now and my mind is a mess. But then again, I suppose that was part of the appeal of my writing to begin with. The organized mess that is my mind. I guess I just supposed that it was more fair to all of you that I don't write at all instead of writing something forced and of extremely lesser quality just for the sake of writing. You know, that whole quality over quantity excuse that you told yourself when you couldn't get laid back in high school, right guys? (Just kidding, ladies) To those of you who have waited patiently, I thank you very much. To those of you that haven't waited patiently, fuck you very much. Lets see you try to do a column on a regular schedule! What? You already do? Hmm. Well...fuck you anyway, I'm new at this! And like I said, I decided that the quality of my writing was more important than the quantity of my writing. Hey, it worked for Tolkien. It worked for Tool. It worked for Jake Gyllenhaal. It worked for Limp Bizkit. OK, I admit, I just threw that in there to see if you were paying attention.
So what has happened during my time off, you ask? (I know you didn't, but just play along or I'm screwed.) Well, I discovered that although not as great as their previous works, U2's album POP is not as bad as I once thought. I saw The Day After Tomorrow, with the wonderful, gifted Jake Gyllenhaal. I got a regular Tuesday night gig at a local bar. I watched the entire first season of Dead Like Me on DVD. And I read some reviews for the new Lucky Boys Confusion album to decide whether to buy it or not. It was while doing this that I found a review for their older album, "Throwing the Game," that really caught my attention.
So far, Lucky Boys Confusion has had only one single. In 2001, their song, "Fred Astaire" got quite a bit of airplay. For those of you who have not heard this song yet, I suggest you somehow find a copy of it. If you can't find a copy of the song, then I would suggest at least finding a copy of the lyrics. You will need them to understand why I found this review so interesting. The review itself was rather short, so I am now including it in its entirety:
"These Chicago boys know how to throw a party, cramming a little bit of punk, ska, and hip-hop into their busy mix, but it's all familiar stuff. Moving to a big label has sharpened their sound, disguising the obvious limitations of the songs themselves. Best cut: "Fred Astaire," a longing love song that name-drops the hoofer for no apparent reason, but manages to charm nonetheless."
So the good news to me was that this review, written by a man named Michael Gallucci for www.artistdirect.com, acknowledged that the songs of Lucky Boys Confusion are, to use his word, charming. The bad news was that he felt the band was treading familiar ground. I can accept that. That is Mr. Gallucci's opinion. The terrible news is his opinion regarding the song "Fred Astaire."
Stephen seems to be coming from the mindset that "Fred Astaire" is a break-up song. Now, I don't want to sound arrogant or cocky or pretentious. I don't want to seem like I listen to a song better than Mr. Gallucci. But I think just one listen to the song and it should be obvious that this song is not a break-up song.
In the past few years, the phrase "Soccer Mom" has been thrown around quite a bit. However, before that there was whole different mom (and dad) to make fun of:: the "Theater Mom." These were the parents that lived their dreams through their children. The ones that pushed them to go into acting or singing or, as is the focus of this song, dancing.
Different interpretations of songs is one thing. Misinterpretation is sometimes acceptable also. But this man is a professional writer. He is paid to listen to albums and give his opinion of them. And I think the least that someone in that position can do is give a song a fair listen and do their homework. Again, I don't want to sound superior, but this song isn't exactly brain surgery. The opening line (aside from the opening chorus) is, "You're given so many opportunities I've never had. Don't push so hard, nothing is ever easy." Later in the song all that is heard is a quiet clean guitar with the singer saying "You're pushing these children for all the wrong reason. So far, man, you're crushing down their spirits." I emphasize that the background music to this is line is very minimal to show that if you listen to this part of the song and pay attention, you have no choice but to hear this lyric. Does that sound like the kind of line you would hear in a break-up song? Also, I think that this line among others quite easily explains 1) the meaning of the main line "I never got to be your Fred Astaire 2) why Fred Astaire was chosen.
I write this column because I enjoy I and I haven't been asked to stop yet. I'm not getting paid, I'm just writing for the fun (or catharsis) of it. But I take pride in the fact that when i write about something, I do my best to keep my facts straight. Album reviews are non-fiction. As in based on fact. And if you are a professional getting paid for your writings, then your facts should be straight. If your getting paid, you should at least make the fucking effort. If you don't know what you are talking about, don't fucking talk about it!
I'll admit I may be biased. Although the rest of the album turned out to be very good, I bought it just to hear this song. But one of the prevailing themes in my previous works is keeping an open mind when it comes to music you haven't heard before. Shouldn't this be a requirement for being a PROFESSIONAL MUSIC WRITER?! If you're getting paid, shouldn't you be open-minded and know what the hell you're talking about before it gets published for anybody in the world to read?
Okay, this is giving me a headache, so let me try to wrap this up. When most people listen to music, they don't give damn about the lyrics. And I guess that there's no reason that they should. But if you are going to judge a song based on it's lyrics, make sure you have at least paid attention to the lyrics first.
Either that, or get a job working for Artist Direct.
For questions, comments, future column suggestions or song interpretations, you can e-mail E.G. Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org. He studies songs for a living, so you can rest assured that he'll actually know what he's talking about or he just won't fucking talk about it.