Jan 232008

Smoke gets in your eyes

Ian Hunter is known for mystery-inducing shades, but I’m not sure how much cool he derived from them. His voice and hair did most of the cool work; I figured the shades were to hide weak, beady eyes. Graham Parker‘s shades raise similar suspicions: at first they seem cool, but then the light hits them at a certain angle – or he’s pictured standing next to a truly cool wearer of shades – and you wonder what he’s hiding.

New York Giants football coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t allow his assistant coaches to wear sunglasses during training camp workouts in the hot August sun. You know why? He wants to be able to look ’em in the eye! Tom Coughlin’s 2007-2008 New York Giants are about to play in this year’s Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Graham Parker’s working up yet another song about how the music industry’s screwed him over.


  17 Responses to “Rock’s Questionable Fashion Choices: Shades”

  1. funny shit man!

  2. Meanwhile, Graham Parker’s working up yet another song about how the music industry’s screwed him over.

    I’m tempted to say “watch it there buddy”, though I’ll admit that your comment isn’t without some accuracy given the amount of songs he’s written in that mold. Nevertheless, his newest album Don’t Tell Columbus refreshingly contains none of them and is quite good. Also, while I’ll concede that GP is nowhere near as cool of a shade wearer as say, Dylan, that’s a particularly awful looking shot IMO. Let me dig up some better looking ones.

  3. alexmagic

    I tend to think that the intrinsic coolness of sunglasses comes from the implication that you’re wearing them either to block out the flashes of the press hounding you or because you need to cover those eyes up after a night of post-rock partying. And thus, when someone who clearly doesn’t have the paparazzi after them and isn’t doing awesome, self-destructive rock partying puts on shades, it exposes them and heightens their uncoolness.

    I’m thinking, for some reason, of Steve Miller here. When he has sunglasses on, it’s just another reminder that he doesn’t seem far off from Stephen King trying to rock out and look cool.

    I have to disagree about Jeff Lynne and his sunglasses for two reasons. First, have you ever seen the photos of him without them on? He has creepy, cult leader eyes. Second, I’m 99% sure the shades are attached to his afro now, and he has to remove the whole thing if he wants to take them off.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Good stuff so far, Townspeople! Alexmagic, I have seen Lynne without the shades. Aren’t we in agreement that he IS hiding something.? I think you’re onto something about the shades being attached to the ‘fro – maybe the beard as well.

    Berlyant, you know I love GP, but all’s fair in RTH essays. That photo had to take precedence over any cooler shot of GP in his shades, don’t you think?

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Cool Rock Shades not yet mentioned:

    – Ron Asheton with orange-tint shooting/safety glasses

    Here’s an interesting observation: I have never — *never* — seen a picture of any member of AC/DC wearing sunglasses.

  6. BigSteve

    The other thing shades hide is age. If you saw Dave Stewart or Ian Hunter or Jeff Lynne today without their shades they’d look like what they are — litle, wrinkly English gents.

    I’ve tried wearing sungalsses indoors or at night, and all I had to show for it was shin bruises.

  7. Mr. Moderator

    Funny you should mention Stewart, Hunter, and Lynne, BigSteve: they’ve all been wearing that combo wig/shades thing since they were fairly young.

    I’m glad you shared your personal tale of having worn shades for an indoor show. Don’t tell me we’re the only musicians to have tried this. Any success stories?

  8. I’ve always loved the sunglasses Mike Nesmith (sans wool hat) wore in the second season of The Monkees. I could’t find any good pics online, so here’s the “Daydream Believer” proto-video.


    Jarvis Cocker wore similar ones circa 1998.


  9. My feeling is that a man probably has to grow into his shades. You can’t just take them on and take them off. Some mornings you have to wake up still wearing them.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Oats, awesome call on Nesmith’s coked-out club owner shades AND Cocker’s Legacy Edition Shades.

    Mwall, how true the last sentence in your comments is!

  11. BigSteve

    Ian Hunter was already over 30 when he was a pop star. He’s older then the Beatles (born in 1939).

    But anyway I think once you’re known as a shades-wearing rock star, you can never take them off. I often wondered if Lynne wore the shades while working in the studio of chatting with friends. How could you be friends with somebody and never be able to look them in the eye?

  12. Mr. Moderator

    I know how old Hunter was, that’s why I made sure to add “fairly” to modify the “younng.” I don’t know about you, but at my age I now consider 30 to be “fairly young,” at least in terms of worrying about covering up crow’s feet.

    By all accounts, Lynne is a very friendly guy, right? Good question about him wearing the glasses indoors, while talking with friends, etc.

  13. alexmagic

    AC/DC lore says that, early in his run with the band, Brian Johnson showed up for either a show or photo shoot wearing sunglasses. Malcolm was noticeably upset about this violating the band’s strict but unspoken no-sunglasses policy and was sort of pacing back and forth, nervously trying to figure out how to bring it up, when Angus walked in and saw the shades, yanked them off Johnson’s face, stomped on them and left without ever saying a word. Johnson got the message and it was never an issue again.

    I’ve been trying to find a photo to prove/disprove it, but I have this vague idea that the Elvis sunglasses may have a precursor in Sly Stone’s occasional shades.

    Do Miles Davis’ ginormous glasses fit into this discussion anywhere? I could see Bono having gotten the idea for some of his choices from those, though his current pair may also help keep his optic blasts in check.

    I’m kind of surprised that there’s no musician who’s tried to pull off a pair of James Worthy-esque sports goggles on stage. They’d probably be more practical for rocking out than the Rambis glasses you’re likelier to see, depending on the band.

    I may have made that AC/DC story up.

  14. Mr. Moderator

    Miles’ shades are definitely worth discussion. Were they influenced by Sly’s? Didn’t ’80s Miles start straying nto David Sanborn-style Designer Shades? Anyhint along those lines is a MAJOR NO-NO. The non-Becker’s Beard guy in Steely Dan also wore colored, stylized horn rims on occasion, right? Not cool. Ask Sally Jessy Raphael.

  15. Mr. Moderator

    You may be onto something re: AC/DC, alexmagic. Even when in beachwear they went shadeless:

  16. BigSteve

    The Steely Dan mention reminded me, didn’t the whole thing of wearing shades at night start with the beboppers, and wasn’t the idea to hide the fact that you were high on heroin? Or did movie stars wearing them to protect themselves from the flashbulbs come first?

  17. Bob Welch! Explain yourself! To the guy from Taxi!

    Jesus …

    Anyway, guys, do not seek one explanation for Shades at Night. They contain multitudes.

    Yes, I have donned shades at an indoor show. Occasionally it’s a fun song-or-two affectation if a) the whole band does it and b) it’s the right song, but you do really have to commit, and very few could get past the hazing phase.

    As I have commented previously on my other shades-on-stage experience, I really wish the Providence local-rock annals were laden with tales about The Night The Whole Band Wore Blublockers on Stage, but really, no.

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