During these difficult times, it’s always a pleasure to know that relief is right around the corner via a back porch dinner with those you love, namely, the “I promise to love you no matter how much of an asshole you are now or will become in the not so distant future” wife; my sister, whose saved my ass on countless occasions; and her husband, one of those Survivor types who can do and get through anything and still have a sense of humor. Last Saturday night’s dinner was especially noteworthy because Supertramp Syndrome was finally fine tuned. It all began when Supertramp’s “Logical Song” reared its ugly head in the middle of a fairly pleasant playlist that featured a lot of surprisingly good ’70s stuff. Tem seconds into the thing was all it took to bring on a plethora of horrible feelings: physical discomfort, embarrassment, shame, etc. Hence, Supertramp Syndrome.
I am tired of death, politics, and the disastrous start for my Minnesota Twins. So let’s get happy and get ready for the best of summer of our lives with The Monkees’ new single, written by one Andy Partridge!
Whaddaya think? That Micky Dolenz has friends in high places!
Do you ever listen to a song and think, “Mmm, I wish they could have done that part over.” It could be a particular verse or solo or middle eight, as is the case whenever I listen to an old favorite I spun on this week’s Saturday Night Shut-In, XTC‘s “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages.” I still love that song, but I used to love everything about it, even the bridge—so much so, in fact, that leaned on it as a model for quickly exiting a tricky bridge on a few of my own songs. I don’t remember exactly when I started to wish for a do-over on that bridge, but at some point in recent years the way it ends—”…and it’s breaking my back!”—started to feel a bit forced, as if my man Andy Partridge was laying heavy on that closing line to shut the door on any feeling the listener may have of him having abruptly exited that exciting, unexpected part of the song. (Andy, if you one day Google yourself in this piece and start getting worked up about this pathetic cretin who is trying to read your thoughts, etc, please know that I love your body of work, including this song, which is one of my favorite songs on the planet. This is a Rock Town Hall discussion, where we allow ourselves to pick apart even our most beloved songs and artists.)
Your rock ‘n roll do-over may be an entire album or stylistic shift, a Look, whatever, but keep it to subjects you really care about. For instance, unless you’re a die-hard Styx fan, some snarky comment about “Mr. Roboto” won’t fly. I’ll ask YOU for a do-over.
Let’s do it again, shall we?
I know that this site has raised the ire of Andy Partridge, which is unfortunate since he is somebody whose music has been absolutely integral in my life. [“Mine too,” says the authors of the old piece that got his goat.- Mr Mod] I’m not trying to piss him off. And I know the Nonsuch album is not so widely loved in these halls, but it does have some tunes I love – yes, I *like* “That Wave.” I’ve played that album many, many times, I know where the little squeaks and clicks are, I know the timing between the songs. I was psyched to hear it in surround, I thought it would be cool.
Feeding this also is that I joined the FB XTC group, mostly to hear news, but honestly I’m a bit turned off by the rampant fandom there, where the praise is generous and lavish and criticism is not especially welcome or considered. Those fan groups can have a weird dynamic and maybe I’m reacting against that. But I’m not trying to piss off those fans either, just to state my opinion.
A lot of XTC fans (not I) feel that Skylarking is the band’s album. There are many stories of Andy Partridge‘s frustrations with the heavy hand of producer Todd Rundgren. This interview with Todd on working with Laura Nyro is telling. Man, it’s got to be hard to put your work in the hands of an equally driven, iconoclastic producer. Good stuff all around!
I was notified that Andy Partridge of XTC, one of my rock heroes, took umbrage to this 2009 Rock Town Hall “news” item:
Partridge posted his dismay with my throwaway lark on his Twitter feed. For possibly the first time ever I used my Twitter account to respond to something. I don’t like seeing us called an “arse site.”
Sorry, Andy. Not a word of that post was true. My apologies to you and to any fans who went hunting for the release of those fictional fictional demos. My comments in that post on my love for your music, even the “tough love” I give to some of your works, are still completely true and sincere to how I feel. If I could I’d show you what’s stirred in my heart through the years while listening to your music. Take care.
As I continue to burn my stuffed orange plastic box of 45s I experienced a troubling realization: the excitement I felt in anticipation of burning XTC’s “Toys,” the C-side from a double 7-inch centered around the exquisite Mummer track “Love On a Farmboy’s Wages,” quickly dissipated to feelings of queasiness and shame. I pride myself in sticking with and seeing through the people and things I love, but I could no longer stand behind “Toys.” Music not only has the power to shape my worldview, sometimes it even offers a place to reside, a basis for a new or extended persona. A song I wrote at that time, while in the throes of “Toys,” sprung to mind. Lyrically it was the equivalent of me playing Cowboys and Indians with this XTC song. The Me Today looked back at the Me Yesterday and thought, What a dipshit!
How do I prevent looking back 30 years from now and realizing that Me Today, the guy talking to you with so much self-awareness and confidence, was yet again a total dipshit? Will you stand by me as I determine whether I can stand by my old singles-spinning self?
[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]