Lis­ten Up

Smith Journal - - Contents - As told to Stephen A R us­sell Il­lus­tra­tor Ti­mothy Rodgers •

Le­mon­heads front­man Evan Dando is a bit ad­dicted to this pop star

(and doesn’t think she’s toxic).





I think it was Bill Steven­son from the De­scen­dents and Black Flag who said how much he liked that song, so I gave it a lis­ten.

I re­mem­ber lov­ing the Ste­vie Won­der-ish­ness of it. It has that re­ally good melody: “Dah dah ah ra da ra rah.” It was pretty im­me­di­ate, and while it’s def­i­nitely more sur­face than sub­stance, there’s just some­thing to the song that I can re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate.

I’ve never seen Brit­ney per­form, and to be hon­est I’ve never even re­ally thought about her as a mu­si­cian. It sounds funny, but she ac­tu­ally seems more like a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure to me. She seems like a smart woman; she’s sur­vived this long in the in­dus­try – and in fact, she’s thrived. I’m sure she would prob­a­bly be way bet­ter as pres­i­dent than who we cur­rently have. You laugh, but my god, it’s not that far from the truth. There’s def­i­nitely some es­capism in­volved in lis­ten­ing to pop; you can put your­self in the best pop songs. When I was young, I’d lis­ten to those songs and think, “That’s me.” And there’s noth­ing wrong with that.

I think peo­ple get far too het up about be­ing cool. I fig­ured it out in grade 10 that you can’t worry about what’s cool; you just gotta like what you like. My tastes are all over the place, in lots of lit­tle nooks and cran­nies. Even if you don’t like their mu­sic, an artist can have a cou­ple of great songs.

I re­ally liked ‘Hot Legs’ by Rod Ste­wart back when I was a kid. And now I think some Justin Tim­ber­lake stuff is re­ally good too, though I don’t re­ally know any of the names. Same deal with Mi­ley Cyrus. I like that song she did with Lu­dacris, the one that goes “Red cups and sweaty bod­ies ev­ery­where, hands in the air like we don’t care…” That’s a real guilty plea­sure.

Peo­ple said the in­ter­net would kill mu­sic, but it re­ally hasn’t. There are still new bands com­ing through all the time. The mu­sic scene is re­ally healthy, even if a lot of what’s com­ing out is heav­ily in­flu­enced by what came be­fore. Nos­tal­gia can be a re­ally pow­er­ful force. You know when you’re 12 years old and you lis­ten to mu­sic and it does some­thing to you? I al­ways think that mu­sic is like your sense of smell, how it is so evoca­tive of spe­cific me­mories. Just like the smell of your grand­par­ents’ garage takes you back in time, mu­sic is ex­actly the same. They should test that the­ory out with some sci­en­tists.

These days I keep busy work­ing on new stuff, out in Martha’s Vine­yard, an is­land in New Eng­land. It’s very re­mote; you can see the stars and re­ally make noise out here. Maybe we should try cov­er­ing ‘Toxic’. It would be a chal­lenge to work into the set, though it ob­vi­ously wouldn’t be our only cover. Af­ter 30 years I still love play­ing the old Le­mon­heads songs, but never ‘Mrs Robin­son’. That was just some freak thing that hap­pened, but I can’t com­plain.

Evan Dando is an Amer­i­can singer-song­writer and front­man of alt-rock out­fit the Le­mon­heads.

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