Funerals are weird.
Especially if they’re the funerals of family members. I feel as though I just spent a week away from my own life, in a strange parallel dimension where time remained in motion, yet suspended. The wake and funeral of a close family member means a week or so in an odd sort of haze, where you’re not expected to do anything but grieve, nor be anything but a griever. The odd part is, you still are the same multitude of things you’ve always been, and you still do the multitude of things you always do. If you happen, however, to collapse in the middle of a room and cry, for that one week, no one will hold it against you. You’re not expected to do or be anything else.
My Nana was 91 years old, which is pretty damn amazing, considering she wasn’t supposed to live past 50 or so. She contracted polio at 14 months, and had it her whole life. (The vaccine hadn’t been discovered yet in 1909.) She never grew past four-foot-one, and she never walked without the assistance of crutches, but that never stopped her from doing anything she wanted. I found it hard to feel sorry for Nana, because she never once felt sorry for herself. Sure, her passing was sad, but that was tempered with the joy that was her life, and the feeling shared by all present at her funeral that somewhere, right now, she’s dancing on the strong pair of legs she never had down here.
My sincerest thanks to everyone who sent condolences via e-mail, and to those who came to her wake. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have made friends with all of you.
We’re still in the post-Christmas dry spell, even though I thought we’d be out of it by now. Both Duncan Sheik’s Phantom Moon and the Orb’s Cydonia were pushed back to mid-March, and it looks like the first big release of the new year will be Dave Matthews Band’s Everyday on February 27.
Two weeks before that, though, is a release that I’m looking forward to more: Jonatha Brooke’s new Steady Pull. Brooke’s the latest artist to go the Aimee Mann route and start her own label up, which she did in reaction to MCA’s unbelievable bungling of her second solo album, 10 Cent Wings. I’m telling you, I haven’t seen a bigger case of a label not knowing what they had in a long time. There were four (at least) top 10 singles on this thing that no one ever got a chance to hear. “Because I Told You So” is the most criminally underpromoted song of the last five years. No kidding. Just a tiny marketing push behind this moving tune and Brooke would have been on her way to a very promising major label career. But no.
I’ve heard a bit of Steady Pull online, and it doesn’t sound as promising as 10 Cent Wings, but I don’t want to sell it short before I hear the whole thing. You can check both albums out at jonathabrooke.com, where you can also pre-order an autographed copy of the new record for no extra charge. If you’re into that sort of thing.
2001 might very well be the year that female performers drag the industry back to the heights of 1999 and before. There’s that new Bjork (called Domestika) coming in May, Amy Ray’s Stag hitting on March 6, and a new Shawn Colvin (she of “Sunny Came Home” fame) on March 27. That one’s called Whole New You. I’m most excited, though, by this bit of news that I picked up last weekend. For those of you (like me) who found it somewhat odd that Ani DiFranco remained uncharacteristically silent throughout 2000, especially after releasing a record three full-length discs in 1999, get ready. On April 24 the little folksinger that could releases a 28-song double disc called Reveling/Reckoning. Naturally, the songs are divided into those two categories and separated on two CDs. Still, each of her albums has been remarkably cohesive, especially lately, and even her bad ones (Up Up Up etc.) are fascinating. She’s evolved from a minimalist acoustic artist into a studio wizard, and Reveling/Reckoning should be the biggest-sounding thing she’s done.
In other scattered news:
I had the privilege of watching Aerosmith shame themselves on national television, appearing with musical talents the stature of ‘N Sync, Britney Spears and Nelly. (Tick, 14:58… tick, 14:59… I’m sorry, that’s your 15 minutes, Mr. Nelly, now go the fuck away.) The new single, “Jaded,” rips off David Bowie in both sound and stutter, and I have very few hopes for the quality of the album, Just Push Play, out on March 20. As for the Super Bowl haftime show, to quote Ben Stiller, it ‘N Sucked.
There are rumblings that this year could see the release of The Soular Return of Terence Trent D’Arby. The album’s reportedly been done for more than two years, and has been sitting about in a warehouse somewhere. You remember Terence Trent D’Arby, right? Heir apparent to Prince’s throne, equally funky one-man band, soul machine, strange cat? Come on, sure you do…
Tears for Fears fans (meaning you, Liz), rejoice, because Roland Orzabal’s solo album, Tomcats Screaming Outside, will be released on March 19. Hopefully it’ll sound nothing like its title. TFF has been, for all intents and purposes, an Orzabal solo project for three albums anyway, so the solo thing shouldn’t be a major change. Incidentally, I dug out my copy of Tears’ 1995 album Raoul and the Kings of Spain recently, and was surprised at how much I liked it. “Sketches of Pain” is a terrific song.
In other solo album news, Glen Philips, vocalist/guitarist/lyricist for Toad the Wet Sprocket, will release Abulum (not a misspelling) on April 10. Reportedly, the album returns to Toad’s acoustic roots, which they sadly abandoned on their ho-hum final album, Coil.
Rumor control: We finally have a release date for the new Rufus Wainwright album, the long-awaited Poses. It’ll be in stores on April 17. Naturally, that’s as subject to change as the last four release dates we’ve been given for that album. Also on April 17 comes the new Tool studio disc. Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, I have it on good authority that the album will be called Systema Encephale. I think that’s bastard Latin for “the workings of the brain,” but don’t quote me.
Oh, and one more bit of info: the new R.E.M., slated for May, is called Reveal.
I wanted to mention one more thing before I go. There’s a movie coming out on February 9 directed by Ridley Scott and starring Sir Anthony Hopkins in a reprise of his most famous role. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. Well, in preparation, I spent five hours reading Thomas Harris’ book, and all I can say is that I want my five hours back. Hannibal is a piece of feces. I took some time to think of ways the book could have been a bigger betrayal of Harris’ readers, and I couldn’t come up with a single one. There are frequent posters to Hannibal Lecter message boards (what a strange thought) that seem to know Harris’ characters better than he does. The final 50 pages are a backhanded stab to the kidneys of not just his characters, but everyone that made his characters famous. I’m not sure how much they paid Stephen King to call it “one of the two most frightening popular novels of our time, the other being The Exorcist,” but it was probably less than the 10 million Harris got to spew this thing out.
Let me try to approximate how poorly written, poorly researched and all-around sad this thing is:
We see a man, covered in shadows. Smell of oranges. Dripping cavern somewhere. Dare we move closer? It is Dr. Lecter. He ate a brain from a llama. Dr. Lecter has always liked the brains of llamas. Did you know that llamas are indigenous to the island of Crete, located off the shores of Italy? Slurp. A sound from somewhere else. Dr. Lecter turned his head, and sees… but no. Let us move on to another chapter. They are only four paragraphs each. Slobber.
I’m serious, it’s that bad. If the movie sucks as much as the book, the stink factor will be HUGE. As for those of you who already suffered through Harris’ mangled prose, I say we march on his house and demand our rightful share of that 10 million.
Next time, I’ll probably have something to say about that 100 Greatest Albums of Rock ‘n’ Roll nonsense. Yeah, it’s good to be back.
See you in line Tuesday morning.