Sammy the Seal

“As desirous of human companionship as anyone, but shackled by over-thinking and days spent staring at the ceiling”

In vinyl, words, words, words on Sunday, 8 June, 2008 at 16:10

See, when I read stuff like this, it makes me feel out of my league, wanting to write. Such succinctness, such pith. That line is the last bit of the itunes review for The Mr. T Experience album Yesterday Rules, the last album recorded before Dr. Frank became a novelist. I’ve been a fan for a long time, though quite by accident: I thought their album title Love is Dead was pretty nifty, so I bought it, and the rest is history. Granted, I don’t listen much to that album or much of their older stuff now (it’s pop-punk mostly), favoring now their sharper, more mature music.

That headline perfectly captures why I feel a kinship to Dr. Frank (the main creative force of the band) and his writing, including his book King Dork, named after another of my absolute favorite songs of theirs. In one of the Yesterday songs, “Institutionalized Misogyny”, Woody Allen appears, which now that I make the connection, makes perfect sense. These are two men who long for happiness and human connection, but are too often too talented and smart for their own good (see: Annie Hall, one of my top 2 or 3 films of all-time). To paraphrase from an Annie Hall review I read a long time ago, men who are constantly looking for the loopholes in perfection, and wishing they couldn’t. (It should be noted though, that Dr. Frank is now married, and happily, as far as I know.)

Fortunately, this isn’t quite me. I’m not as picky or demanding as when I was younger, especially regarding idiosyncrasies– I have them too, after all. Personal preference and idiosyncrasy are quite different from values and standards, as I’ve learned to see past the former. But all the same, the very smarty-pants, tet self-effacing self-awareness of Dr. Frank is still where it’s at. It’s been a blessing and a curse for me: it’s why I’m blogging, obviously. It’s also why “Fucked Up on Life” is my favorite song of his, along with “King Dork”– it’s a tie, too tough to call. I’ve always felt that he saved his best songs for his truest lyrics, and “Fucked Up” is the epitome. When that album came out in early ’04, I was immediately shaken at the unbelievably insecure, heart-on-the-sleeve subject matter. That’s probably why it’s one of my favorite songs ever. I just love it when people are themselves. Oh, and the music? Quietly astounding, layered, yet simple and melodious, with an utterly precious and heartbreaking one-and-a-half-minute outro. Like “I’ll Believe in Anything” (a great song period, though the Wolf Parade version is the culmination, I feel), a perfect artistic statement. (Someday, I’ll expound on the splendor of that other song, believe that.) The artist set out to convey something real and honest, and succeeded smashingly. To put it conceitedly, I genuinely feel I know exactly what the artist wanted to say. And that, in art or life, is rare.

I can only link to the song on myspace, I don’t have the time or desire to trick out my page to have my own player or whatever. “Fucked Up on Life” can be heard here and “King Dork” can be heard here (songs 2 and 3 on there are goodies too).

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