Musings, Nits, and Praises: They've Never Been All About Laughs

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher


They've Never Been All About Laughs

In nearly every article I've read regarding Steven Page's arrest for cocaine possession the reporters have noted how surprising the arrest was given the band's seemingly squeaky clean image and their "goofy" or "feel good" music.

Obviously these writers aren't familar with much of Barenaked Ladies' catalogue.

Shortly after I started this blog, I wrote a short series called "Time-Defining Music" in which I highlighted the impact particular albums made on me at various points in my life. BNL's Born on a Pirate Ship was the first album I wrote about http://jmiddlekauff.blogspot.com/2006/02/time-defining-music.html.

Part of what has always drawn me to that record is the sad tenor of many of the songs. Perhaps that speaks to my own melancholic disposition.

This evening I came across this July 18th article by Chris Snethen in the Portland Tribune entitled "The Eternal Sadness of Steven Page" http://thevig.portlandtribune.com/2008/07/18/the-eternal-sadness-of-steven-page/

Snethen, who like Page has had struggles with mental health, offers a poignant assessment of Page's arrest as seen through the lens of the emotional and pyschological turmoil he has revealed in his songwriting.

Whether you're a BNL fan or not, Snethen's article is worth reading.

4 Responses to “They've Never Been All About Laughs”

  1. # Blogger Steve

    Very interesting. Music does help to define us and the music we hear at critical times while growing up does deeply affect us. I'll be checking out the Bare Naked Ladies soon. I know of someone my son's age, a girl, who hitched a ride to Memphis just to hear them a few years ago.

    Back to your question to me regarding engaging popular music for theological means. I recall that the presenter mentioned that there is something of a spiritual nature that attracts youth to Led Zeppelin. This includes certain themes and symbols, though he wasn't specific as I recall.

    My own thoughts are that, somehow, when Robert Plant screams, there is a vicarious release felt by the male listener. He expresses quite a range of emotions that young men usually squelch. He is aggressive in a way that young men are socialized not to be but would like to be. Strangely the earlier Led Zeppelin music serves to arouse and at the same time substitute for primal urges. But there is a progression in their music. The music became more thoughtful. With Stairway to Heaven, the listener feels like there is something meaningful and profound and it works because the words, so artfully accompanied by the music. There is just the right amount of obscurity in the lyrics. The listener is not presented with a clear, understandable and true statement that becomes cloying. Nor is it just gibberish. There is just the right amount of mystery.  

  2. # Blogger Jason

    Steve, when you're ready to make your foray into BNL listening, let me know, and I'll provide some song recommendations.

    About Zeppelin, I'd add that it's not only Plant's screaming, but also their hard-driving music that provides a sort of catharthis for the male listener. One of the funniest conversations I've ever had about music revolved around how listening to Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" gives an ordinary man the power to beat up a dozen people at once. I haven't actually tried to verify that.

    I agree with your thoughts on "Stairway to Heaven." In fact, I'd say the element of mystery contained in the song's lyrics epitomizes the more "mystical" tone that pervades much of Zeppelin IV.  

  3. # Blogger Steve

    Yes, please recommend.

    Thanks  

  4. # Blogger Jim

    It's such a shame that this happened. I think Steven Page is a great guy that just got caught up in bad behavior. Besides, he wrote some of my favorite Barenaked Ladies songs.

    I hope everything works out okay and they can go record their new album soon!

    ~Jim

    The Laptop Sessions Cover Songs  

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