Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"It's a Shame About Ray"

As an impressionable teenager, I revered John McEnroe; I admired his fiery determination, his unwillingness to be anything but himself and the way that he made a virtue out of what I thought was an ungainly, awkward approach to the game.
As I grew older, I began to appreciate something different: his innate, untutored, helpless talent. I don't think he really had a great deal of choice in the matter - he was born to play tennis. All the tantrums, the anger were just so much static - no matter how crappy a day he was having, his tennis was still solid gold.
I know this might be a stretch, but I reckon that Evan Dando may well be the John McEnroe of music. A sublimely talented writer, gifted with such a fantastic voice, he seemed to just sweat great tunes while he was busy doing something else.
Evan Dando had the luck to be able to knock out such fantastic tunes while struggling with addiction and distraction. A song as simple as this, you'd think, must mean it's not all that hard, this songwriting business.
We think to ourselves, "I'm sure I could do it," but the problem is, we probably couldn't. We either don't have the talent or the application, or else we'd be doing it already, wouldn't we?
And the supreme irony is that, to John McEnroe or Evan Dando playing championship tennis or writing this song was probably reasonably easy. They were used to it - they grew up with the talent, they harnessed it.
There's nothing fancy here, but then listen to any truly great pop song - "There She Goes," "Teenage Kicks," "I Saw the Light" - and the genius is in the simplicity: "If I make it through today/I'll know tomorrow not to leave my feelings out on display/I'll put the cobwebs back in place/I've never been too good with names/but I remember faces."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FAb-U-LOUS song! And isn't it good that Evan made a comeback this year? It even lives up to "Ray!"