Archive for the ‘Spoon’ Category
I saw a therapist when I was in college who asked me, “Do you ever fantasize that you’re a musician or a movie star?” In my memory, the question came up apropos of nothing, as I was somewhat startled by it, but it’s likely that I had said something that led her to believe this might be the case. And of course, the answer was, yes, I did sometimes fantasize that I was a musician. Not just musician. Rock star? Alternative-rock star? I at least had fantasies that I would be famous enough to sell out the kind of clubs where I went to see my favorite bands. And I still have these fantasies. I can’t play any instruments with proficiency, and I can’t even imagine how one would go about writing a song. I don’t have any interest in rehearsing or recording in a studio, or spending long hours traveling around in a tour bus, or eating take-out food in a windowless room backstage, as real musicians do. So this fantasy has never been at all close to realizable. But I’ll admit it—sometimes I think it would be pretty fantastic to get up on stage in front of a lot of people and play music that everyone thought was cool and beautiful.
Since I can’t play or write my own music, in order to indulge this fantasy, I have to imagine that I’m a preexisting alternative-rock star. Which begs the question, who? On the one hand, for this fantasy to work, the alternative-rock star that I imagine myself being should be at least a little bit like who I am in real life—an effective fantasy should have some basis in reality, otherwise it’s too far-fetched to sustain itself. The thing is that I probably don’t have much in common with any rock stars. Rock stars are simply made from a whole different kind of fabric. They like to go out and drink and get to bed at a very late hour, and I like to stay home and read and go to bed early. (Also, they usually have good singing voices.) On the other hand, the alternative-rock star that I fantasize being should be a good deal unlike me. A fantasy, at least by early middle age, ought to be more or less out of reach in order to be genuinely exciting—otherwise it becomes something you could have done but never got around to, which would then engender regret rather than reverie.
A couple of years before my first therapist asked me that question, I liked to make believe that I was Robert Smith of the Cure. My identification was visual rather than musical, though—he had a crazy, overgrown hairstyle that I tried hard to replicate. Also, I wasn’t as depressed as his songs sounded. Then, for a while, I wished I was Mitch Easter of the now practically forgotten band Let’s Active, who also had messy hair but played more upbeat music. When I was in my twenties and my musical tastes centered less on a musician’s tonsorial choices, Grant McLennan of the Go-Betweens seemed like a sensible person to wish to be. He wrote grown-up songs, and I was beginning to feel more grown up. Later than that, I thought I might make a good Elliott Smith kind of musician, only without the addictions. Once I saw him play, and after the show I was standing by the bar and he asked me to pass him a cocktail napkin—he wanted to write something down. He spoke and sang softly, and I thought maybe I could sound a little bit like him if I made my voice low and whispery enough.
Most recently, though, I’ve thought that if I could be an alternative-rock star, I would like to be Britt Daniel from Spoon. This isn’t the most obvious choice. I don’t sound like him, I’m not tall and red-haired, and I don’t have as nice clothes. Also, he sings a lot about girls. Britt seems like a friendly, intelligent guy in interviews, and I like to think that I’m friendly and smart enough. Spoon’s music, though, has swagger—thoughtful swagger, if there is such a thing. Britt Daniel seems like a man with confidence. One afternoon, not long after Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga came out, I drove back to Brooklyn from upstate and listened to the whole album through, imagining that I was the leader of Spoon, playing a show at the Knitting Factory—which has been closed for years, but I’m apparently not in control of this element of the fantasy. With my fitted shirt and my little Japanese cigarette case, I was in command of the band and the crowd, and I could make my raggedy voice do all kinds of fearless things. I could make people feel as good as Spoon made me feel. I could make people dance.