Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frontmen, man.

Ok, so, I figure, what the hell, right? We did this Inspirational Robby Pullstring Doll thing, Erica, and me, and Sam, too... And, I figure... Why not do a set of phrases for a John Doll, too? Yeah? I mean, Robby does his own.....


Takac does his own thing so much, I doubt he'd need Rzeznik's help with it, and if my memory serves... Rzeznik once pretty much said he makes an effort NOT to say anything when Takac comes to him with a song... So, this sort of idea is REALLY ridiculous, but... Screw it, why not?

Therefore, I (proudly?) present my list of Ten Things a Rzeznik Pullstring Doll would say to Takac, in no particular order, and with no particular purpose.

  1. Damn it, this is our dream, and it can't happen without you here! So... Yeah, you know.
  2. You know, even when no one else seems to be... I'm always listening.
  3. I *want* to come see Amungus, I really do... I promise I'll make it to the next show!
  4. I wish I could be more like you sometimes. ....All outgoing... Infectuous... Everyone loves you, you know.
  5. I am so... Proud of our studio. I always knew we'd make good parents. *pause* HEY, STOP GIGGLING, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!
  6. You're right. If we could survive the guyliner phase, we CAN do anything... Though, you looked sort of handsome... Well, not handsome... You... Uhm... YOU'D STILL MAKE AN UGLY WOMAN! ...Yeah.
  7. What?! You're in shape! Round is a shape.
  8. Ok, I know this is gonna sound weird, but I was thinking that maybe, next time, we could sing together... Sound good?
  9. I'm sorry.
  10. You're the brother I never wanted, but the one I've always needed.

Well, these all sound bromance-y enough, so I think my work is done. (funny how most of these turn upon validations of worth.)

a thousand other boys could never reach you, how could I have been the one?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sidekicks, man.

Okay, so, just like the Ten Best Goo Songs assignment... I gave my Goo friends another dumbass task. See, Erica and I were talking about Rzeznik (gee, imagine that), and we were kinda goin' on about how he's supposedly so neurotic and so hard on himself, and how he's said time and time again that writing songs, especially lyrics, is the hardest thing for him.

Well, all right, so this somehow lead to... This cutesy/stupid idea that, maybe, just maybe, Rzeznik actually has a Goo Goo Doll. And, no, not a real Goo Goo Doll, because, really, those things are weird as Hell. We meant... Like.. A little pocket-sized Takac-esque Doll that, when you pull its string, says little inspirational phrases, which Rzeznik needs in order to encourage him to finish songs for albums, like their forthcoming album, for instance. (Imagine, like if Rzeznik had a doll like Woody from Toy Story, except, it's a little Takac. After all, Takac's the glue that's held this band together for so long... He's the little sidekick-character in this bromance.)

Thus, this is to prove that I haven't forgotten this task! (In fact, I'll hopefully have a goodle ready to post on DA when I get back to H-Ville.) So, I'm gonna post my Ten Inspirational/Comforting/Bromantic/FINISH-THE-ALBUM Phrases, which a little Takac-doll might, theoretically, say, if owned by Rzeznik. (and, yes, there is some sarcasm interwoven through most of these... and a few that are semi-based off of shit actually said.)
  1. "Don't give up! You won the coveted Hal David Starlight Award for Songwriting. They don't just give those away! Really!"
  2. "Screw that cow! The song you're working on now will get us that Grammy! I know it!"
  3. "John, man, you've gotta finish your songs. I've purposefully sung less and less on our albums to leave you and your brilliance more room!"
  4. "Look, Melina already knows you love her... Maybe write about something else?"
  5. [to be played in sequence after the fourth phrase] "Or, write about SOMEONE else... You know, it doesn't always have to be about a boy and a girl."
  6. "Okay, seriously, you have to finish some songs... I'm having trouble with mine this time!"
  7. "Thomas, Kroeger, Alexakis, Wade, Levine... They've got nothing on you!"
  8. "You write the hits. It's what you do. And you do it well."
  9. "The critics haven't liked us since the public has. That's just the way it is, so don't worry about them. Our fans are loyal, too, so don't worry about them either. Or Mike. Or me. Just write until you're happy. Then, I'll be happy, too."
  10. "Truthfully, it pisses me off how good you are at this. Your songs reach into a heart, grab it, and don't let go. You always manage to really touch something inside. Always. And, it's just the way you are, so don't fight it. Just keep writing."

One has some of my typical sarcasm in it. Two is a reference to Rzeznik bitching about Celine Dion beating them at the Grammys, back in the day. Three is also riddled with my typical Gooey sarcasm, which means: take it with a grain of salt. Four is pretty much the same... I'm just lightly bitching about the half of LLI I didn't like, and running loose with fan-rumors that the whole album is inspired by her. Five leeches off of Four, but also references some interview where that really was said, I believe, by Takac. Six is me expressing my wishes for greater collaboration... Granted, I think it's the other way around, as of late, truth be told. Plus, it's probably some realism leaking into this. Seven is just sweetness and honesty. Pure and simple. Eight is an actual quote, for the most part. Nine is made up, but sounds like Takac-esque rationalization. Last, Ten is inspired by an actual quote of Takac's about Rzeznik's songwriting skills.

And, while we're on this subject... Granted, I don't catch every single print/audio interview they do, but... It seems like this subject, as a whole, is something they almost avoid discussing. I mean, the (kind and endearing) quotes I'm maligning for this stupid idea come from the DUTG era, as far as my memory serves. Beyond that era, I can't really recall EITHER ONE talking about the other's songwriting with any praise, or at all, for that matter. I mean, yeah, they've randomly gone on about their (gasp!) joint writing on LLI (Listen), but I think that's about it. Even when Rzeznik won that award, I don't recall Takac ever lauding him. Of course, I'm sure he did privately, but... Still. Unless it's been one big secret, or I just didn't realize Takac was there... He didn't even go to the awards presentation, nor was he (or Mike, while we're making note of this) thanked by Rzeznik in his acceptance speech.

And, yeah, they're not little 20-somethings who need the constant camaraderie anymore, but... *pause, sigh*

I guess... Whatever... It's just fun to embellish the Gooey Mythology by imagining up this stupid little scenario... And, thereby building-up their friendship, most likely beyond what it really is at this point.

That's all. (and, two Goobers got bored; it's as simple as that.... and, if any Goobers read this and wanna contribute... Just put your phrases in your comments! I'd love to read some!)

think about the tender things that we're working on

Year End Wrap-Ups: Music

Okay, so Christmas is over. It was great. I had a blast with my family, and I got what I wanted. I hope everyone else had a happy, loving time. And, news flash, I'm not going to Odessa. My mom finally made her decision, listened to me, and said we'd go next year after I graduate. So, this time next year, I'll be hanging out in the big O-D.

So, tonight we watched The Dark Knight. We rented it from Blockbuster, because I'm stubborn and I refuse to buy it now, and miss out when some awesome Collector's Edition of the Trilogy comes out in three-four years from now. I missed out on LOTR, PotC, X-Files, and Millennium because I was impatient. Not this time, dammit. I will stick by my guns! (Although, damn... Tonight, I believe, was my 8th viewing of TDK and it's STILL a great movie, and Dudley loved it. It was his first time to see it. He liked it so much, in fact, that he said he's see it in theatres if the rumor that they're re-releasing it is true.)

Speaking of TDK, the Golden Globe nominees for this year have been released, and Ledger is up for Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Film. I think it's fantastic he got a nomination, and I hope he wins. Though, if he does, I hope it's for the right reason.

Back to Christmas for a second. I got a digital camera, and I love it so much. So much. So, if anyone wants any, there'll be pictur- Oh, wait, no one wants any? All right, rock on.

Since I'm not going to Odessa, tomorrow mom and Dudley and I are going to see The Day the Earth Stood Still. And, before I leave, Mom and I are gonna see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And, when I go see Dad next week (Tuesday night), we're going to see Valkyrie, which, sadly, seems to be getting mediocre reviews so far. Oh, well.

And, while we're on the subject of reviews... I guess it's time for me to start weighing-in on 2008. Not from a personal standpoint, mind you, but from an entertainment stance. I mean, NOW is the time most people start making those 10 Best lists...

So, I'll finish this post with a truncated rant about music: Simply, I really didn't listen to all that much this year. Being in H-Ville, I'm cut-off from radio, which is my main source of music. MTV has sucked for years, and half the time that I'm up late enough to watch music videos on VH1, I'm finishing an assignment, or they're playing some lame singer-songwriter bullshit. On-line? I listen to Pandora, which I've sadly tailored to the point where I hear the same bands over and over.

So, what does all this boil down to? It means that I've been happily stuck in my musical corner this year, like I was last year. Like I'll be until I move back to H-Town permanently. In my corner, I just paid attention to what I'm used to, my normal bands. So... Here's what I loved and didn't quite love so much about this year in my music:

  • First off, of course, is Goo Goo Dolls. Their Greatest Hits: Volume Two came out this Summer, and it was fantastic. My only slight beef was that it didn't have quite the video content that the band wanted on there, but that was probably due to legal issues, so it's not their fault, and not really a fault of the album. This issue of legality and copyright, somehow, is probably the reason why my favorite cover, Nothing Can Change You, wasn't included, either. Regardless, the collection is worth it for *any* fan, die-hard or casual.
  • Keane had a new album, called Perfect Symmetry, and it was their Viva la Vida. It was the representation of a new musical direction for the band. Sadly, though, unlike Coldplay's VlV, I don't think it was well-received in the U.S. It may have been better-received in their native country, the U.K., and I hope it was, but I don't know. I liked it a lot. I'm not sure where'd I rank it in comparison to the rest of their catalogue, but I know I liked it. In fact, I'm still using it in my car.
  • Since I've already used it in an analogy... Coldplay came out with Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends this year. As already alluded to, it was Coldplay's most adventurous and experimental album to date. I loved it. In fact, I think there's only one and half songs off of it that I didn't like, and that's good for me and them. I won't be surprised if they sweep the Grammys.
  • Augustana had Can't Love, Can't Hurt this year. Overall, I'd say it's a solid sophomore effort. Probably, thought I'd have to listen to both to be sure, but... I think I'd say it's a better album than their first. Sweet and Low is a great song, and it should have done better, I think, as a single. (In personal news... I've had, like, three chances in the last two years to see them, and I've missed it each time... Grrrr.)
  • Even though I've only heard the one single, Dancer, I'm sure The Killers' new album is amazing. They're always reliable for good music.
  • Sarah McLachlan also released a Greatest Hits compilation this year. I got it, since I've lost all my albums of hers. I'm happy with the compilation. It's all her hits, so how could I not be? Well, I do wish she had made an excecutive decision and put Fear on it... Oh, and I can honestly say that, unless you're a die-hard McLachlan fan, the deluxe version isn't worth it. Sorry, Sarah.
  • Even though it came out in 2007, I just got Emerson Hart's solo album, Cigarettes and Gasoline. He was the lead singer of Tonic, but they split up, and now he's doing his own thing. It's good, if a little on the country-side in places, but I would have to say that, overall, I think I prefer Tonic's work over his solo effort. Green Hills Race for California, however, is a damn good song.
  • Supposed to have come out in 2007, but released this year was Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings by Counting Crows. To be Gooey for a second... This was the Crows' LLI. No, it wasn't filled to the brim with saccharine-sweet ballads, but it was under-whleming. However, compared to a lot of what comes out lately that falls into the same generalized category of pop-rock, BOTH ALBUMS are good. BUT!! Compared separately to the rest of their respective bands' catalogues... Meh, not anything amazing, on either account. However, two songs on SNaSM really stand out to me: 1492 and Cowboys. Give those a chance, and the rest of the dichotic album might grow on you, slowly.
  • One last compilation, and this one's from my #2 band, Everclear. They released, back in April, their collection of covers, called The Vegas Years. The only one I didn't enjoy was their cover of Neil Young's Pocahontas. I just don't think it was a good song for them to cover. However, the Speed Racer theme and Tom Petty's American Girl were both fantastic. Plus, from a Gooey standpoint, it was interesting to hear another band, my #2 no less, cover American Girl. Apparently, and I wouldn't know this of course, EC's been using it to close their live-shows since, like, 2004. Anyways, it's a must-have for any die-hard EC fan. God knows I had mine when it came out.
  • Last is my rave for Panic at the Disco's sophomore album, Pretty. Odd. It's absolutely amazing compared to their debut, and I loved their debut. This is just better, because it proves, in my opinion, that they're more than a flash-in-the-pan, that they have staying-power, and that's hard to come by in this day and age. Even if you didn't like their first album, I recommend this one, at least to listen to 30-second previews before you make your decision.

Looking ahead to 2009: Silversun Pickups is supposed to drop their sophomore effort, Wikipedia already has info up about a supposed April-release for Lifehouse, which I'm really not all that excited about (unless Bryce really is going to sing on this one...), rumor has it that Aerosmith will drop something, which means they'll tour; maybe EC will have an album of NEW material, since 2006 was their last release of original work; it's been confirmed that Starsailor's dropping their fourth album in March, and, last but certainly not least... Goo Goo Dolls are rumored to have a new album next year, which I think won't drop until 2010, but that's just my pessimism.

(Last-minute/final note: Amungus released an album, but I have not yet got it.)

that's what we learned about flyin'

Friday, December 19, 2008

When You Hear It...

Okay, so finals are done. This semester is over. This semester, this seemingly endless hell, has, well, ended. (Not quite, I still have two independent projects to work on over the break and hand off to profs in January, actually.) And, it's ended on a high note. I think I pulled through. I could have done better (Film and Lit, man...) but I could have done a lot worse, and believe you me, I sure as hell wanted to do worse...

This was the fist time I truly wanted to just give up. This semester. There was so much reading, so much writing... So many all-nighters, and all-dayers... And some of the acquaintances I had made previous disappeared on me, and I was wonderfully alone in another way (until recently, of course, but... that....). Bits and pieces of other random drama (family, friends, school, Gooey, and otherwise) cropped up, sifted out, or simply remained, held over from last year, and plagued me and everyone else. Some things fell apart; some people were lost in the shuffle, and some were found.

I can honestly say 2008 has been one of the worst years of my life.

But, whatever. It's okay. It's fine. January is so close, a new year and better days, and all those Gooey puns I pull out to make myself smile. And, Christmas is just around the corner, which brings me to my point..

I drove down to my parents' today. It rained most of the way, and a number of the roads were being half-assed-ly re-paved, so rain + uneven roads + fog + me = scary. And anxiety. Lots of that. Y'all know how I am... So, on top of the comatose-like mental state I'm in, and the exhaustion, and the head-aching and heart-breaking depression over... him ...Nothing important; on top of it all, there's this shitty two-hour drive.

And, once I had reached H-Town's radio reach, I had shut-off Silversun Pickups and had started station surfing: alt rock, hot hits, Adult Top 40. Back and forth, rinse and repeat. And, in an odd coincidence, I was hearing shit. Usually, I'm welcomed home to H-Town with my bands, and, best yet, I (a number of times) hear Name or Iris, or whatever's the newest Dolls song. (Last time, I actually heard Before It's Too Late, randomly.) This time, though? Nothing. And, that's not helping anything.

And he calls while I'm driving, and I can't answer, so I call him back at a red light, and just hearing his voice makes me miss him.
(but I shouldn't.)

And the inner space, right behind the section between my eyebrows... A sinus cavity?... Is killing me, and my hands ache from gripping the wheel, having to hold Celes on the road, because she veers pretty bad, and she shakes, which sends my charms into fits of epilepsy.

But, when I pull into my mother's driveway, I hear it: the intro that I'll hear, in my mind, on my deathbed, and I park the car, and I'm so happy, I can't even scream. I just tremble. Once those nominal opening lyrics pass, and I get my wits, I call Dudley, so he can hear it, and verify it, because there's a damn good chance that I've finally lost it. (And how fitting! That Polish bard will sing the songs of my madness.) But, I'm not going crazy; it's really happening.

If I had saved the grains of time since the last time this had happened; oh, I'd have a beach.

And, I know it doesn't matter, or it shouldn't. It is just another love song, but...

Just last night, he asked me about my b(l)ack balloon, and when he quickly saw through my bullshit, saying that I'm "not that cool chick who has a tattoo of a balloon for no reason," and I couldn't explain beyond the fact that it's my favorite song, even when he prodded... I was just reminded, as I was today, just how much it means to me. And, try as I might, I don't think I could ever effectively articulate that. Ever.

And, before I sound any more obsessive, which is fucking embarassing, I'll just end this.

*sigh* tl;dr: I heard Black Balloon today. On the radio, which is always special. For the first time in... I can't even remember how long, and it made everything better, for 4:09 minutes.

yeah, we're gonna let it slide.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Greatness of Goo

So, like a moron, I gave this stupid assignment to my Goo friends, asking them to make a list of the Ten Songs they would have a casual/non-fan listen to in order to try and convince them of the Dolls' greatness. Basically, to prove how kickass they are, which Ten Songs, from your own personal collection, would you use? And, I gave this to them, thinking, for a second there, that I'd somehow escape having to do it myself, since I'm usually much more interested in others' opinions than my own.

But, no. Here I am, and here's the list, in no order whatsoever. (Mind you, I did this while listening to anything BUT the Dolls... I figured that the songs that I could clearly think about were probably the ones I felt showcased them the best) And, here we go...

Black Balloon - Okay, we all knew this song would make my list. Is really anyone surprised? No? I didn't think so. I would say "favoritism aside," but this has EVERYTHING to do with favoritism, because this song
must have been my favorite for ten years for a reason. And, I think I know why.
See, we've been studying Whitman a lot this semester, which is fine with me, and lately it's hit me how similar I think Rzeznik and Whitman are. They're both artistic bards, struggling with the crowd and isolation at the same time. With both often preoccupied, or inspired, with the singular, Whitman's poetry and Rzeznik's songs end up written in such a way that the universal takes hold. As much as I poke fun at Rzeznik for his "vague" lyrics, I know it's truly a gift he has and uses to bring us all closer, further into that tiny little space he, or his hauntings, occupy. It's a beautiful thing, and I think it's done exceptionally well and beatifully with
Black Balloon.
We all know it's about Tammy, Takac's ex-wife, so the root of the song, and the instances within, are either true or closely based-on fact. Regardless of that preciseness, Rzeznik still manages to tackle the universal, and craft a semi-personal tragedy into what, I think, is one of their greatest love songs. That's his lyrical gift, I'd say.
So, to wrap it up, because goddamn, I cannot write this much about each of the Ten songs, Black Balloon is on my list because I think it's their best love-song and is one of the best representations of Rzeznik's particular lyrical-style, amongst the more generality that's it's just a good song.

So Far Away (instrumental) - I think, as far as Gooey instrumentals go, this is the best (with Kevin's Song and String of Lies (instrumental) not too far behind). In fact, this song has two sets of lyrics: what's heard on the album (ie.: SFA) and a demo-rarity, Dancing in Your Blood, and I sometimes wish that they would have chosen DiYB, but that's beside the point... The point is, they liked this music so much, instead of starting over, they tried like hell to write lyrics for it, and we know how much Rzeznik bitches about lyric-writing... Anyhow, just to show off the band's kickass music, I would use this selection. And, that's all there really is to say about this one.

Here Is Gone (acoustic)
- To tone it down, get the amps off of 11, and go all acoustic and intimate, hands-down, the HiG acoustic is the top choice. For starters, the plugged-in album version of this song is fantastic: in fact, HiG is one of those Goo singles that probably should have done better (and, maybe Gutterflower would have done better, and LLI would have never happened, or would have been different, at least...). And the song just gets even better when the electricity's zapped off. The powerful lyrics burn through on the raspy and torn wings of Rzeznik's vocal chords, and you can hear his heart bleeding, as yours will, too, by the end.

I Don't Wanna Know (Fleetwood Mac cover)
- While not my favorite cover (that goes to Nothing Can Change You and/or Don't Fear the Reaper), this is on the list because of what Rzeznik and co. did to make it so awesome. Essentially, they re-wrote the song. Fleetwood's version, no offense, is border-line cheesy, in the vein of Captain and Tennille. The Dolls took it and changed it into an amazing alt rock song that should have got radioplay when it was tacked-on to that tribute album. In short: they Gooified it.

Broadway (Live) - Let me set the record straight, I don't like the album version of this song. I never have, and I probably never will. That said, even when I'm not at an actual concert, and I just have this song pop up on my Winamp's shuffle, I'm IMMEDIATELY THERE, with the Dolls, in the front row, cheering and rocking out. And, it doesn't matter which concert it's from, either. It could be a Broadway from a '99 concert, or one from '07, and it'd STILL be amazing. Time does not damage the live performances of this song, which is a blessing not all of the Dolls' songs have been fortunate enough to receive (*cough*: Iris). This song is just perfect to showcase how the Dolls are, contrary to popular myth, one of America's best rock bands.

We'll Be Here When You're Gone (remix) - OMG, something from LLI (sort of) makes the list?!, you ask. Shut up, I reply. *smirk* This is on the list because of its epic trancey beauty, and because it shows a whole other side of Goo that was barely hinted at with the GF gem, Truth is a Whisper. In fact, if they decided to go all Silversun Pickups/Interpol/Keane/The Cure-ish on us, and get all electronicy, I'd be totally cool with it. But, anyway, this makes the list because it shows, and shows very well, yet another side of this multi-faceted band; and, not only that, but I think it also proves the Dolls' staying power -- evidence of their ability to constantly re-invent and evolve and mature as a band.

Lucky Star - I'm sure you were wondering when I'd get to Takac. Well, here we are. God, I don't know where to start... All right, I'll sum it up for you. This song is Takac's Black Balloon. Lyrically, it's absolutely Takac's best song. And, just like Black Balloon, it's a love song, but in only the way Takac could write one. It showcases his polar-opposite style, how he's buried in the speficifics, and leaves the universals to Rzeznik.
Besides developing the (delicious) way they complement each other, the lyrics still carry feeling. Maybe you don't weep like you do when you hear Iris or Become, but you're heartless if your ears don't perk up at least a little on the "But I remember" line -- the raw emotion in Takac's voice is unavoidable.
The music is up to par against (but not necessarily better than) anything else of Takac's: rockier and punkier, overall, when compared to Rzeznik's stuff (especially the recent stuff), so it's really the whole package that puts this song on the list. And, as a final note, I'll eat my hat when Takac tops this song.

String of Lies - Here's, possibly, the surpise! entry. Why? Because, when I first thought about this list, and I thought about which duet I would use (and there's not very many to choose from), my knee-jerk choice was Tell Me (Something I Don't Know), a demo-rarity. Then I thought of this, and then I thought of Hey. So, I pulled them all out and listened to them, and decided on this one.
I chose this one because of a number of reasons:
First, I wanted to shine a light on the core of the band; Rzeznik and Takac, their chemistry and talent wonderfully blended together, which is what the band is, despite how the equality has shifted from Takac, to the two, to Rzeznik, over their 20+ years together. (Also, if I'm trying to impress a casual or non-fan, I'd like to point out that the Dolls are, actually, a dual-singer band, which is often by-passed as of late...)
Second, musically this is a great alt rock song: I think one of their best. It's powerful and it makes you just want to rock along. (Be careful playing it in the car, you might get pulled over for speeding...) The guitar solo in it shows off Rzeznik's skills, while the overall song (which is SO CLEARLY Takac-ish, and almost makes me wonder if he wrote the majority of the music and then opened the rest up to Rzeznik) is just a fantasic representation of the blending of their punk roots with their alt rock styaing power.
Third, the lyrics seem born from something specific (Takacism) but in the end, reach out to a universal (Rzeznikism) theme of mistrust plagueing a relationship. Maybe Rzeznik and Laurie had a fight, or maybe Takac's letting off steam regarding the faltering friendship between Rzeznik and Tutuska ("always compromise..."). I have no idea. Either way, these are their best duet-lyrics. You can even note how it seems highly particular who sings which line (ie: it's not a simple trade-off, Rzeznik sings line 1, Takac sings line 2, rinse and repeat). Some serious thought went into this one.
Overall, SoL is their best duet, and maybe their best song, holistically. It shows off both singers' voices and musical talents (the overall song and the solo). It presents both their lyric-styles. It, even, highlights a key theme of a number of their songs. It embraces their punkier roots and anticipates their current pop rock ways.
And, in short, it embodies the heart of this band: the two of them, and how perfectly they work together.

Big Machine - This makes the list because, until I'm proven wrong with the new album, this is the best rock song, courtesy of Rzeznik, of the Dolls' modern era (and this list, I know, has been somewhat in-balanced as far as time is concerned). It's adult pop rock at its finest, really. The sound is huge, but not overwhelming, and the lyrics are accessible. It's just a great rock package, and I wanted something to showcase their modern pop rock sound. (Long Way Down, Lazy Eye were considered, until I made this decision; which then lead to thoughts of What A Scene, Dizzy, this one, and Stay With You).

Tucked Away - And, we'll put this list to bed with, what I think is, Takac's best modern era song. And while we're thinking about the now; if Big Machine is Rzeznik's best, then this is Takac's, and funny how they both come from GF. The music is powerful, especially the driving beat, and emotion just oozes from Takac's vocals, and maybe that's because this is another song supposedly about Tammy. Regardless, the song is simply kickass, and proves, like Big Machine, that there's rock and passion still there, beneath the adult rock ballads.

And, there you have it. (be sure to click song titles to download the song)
Am I heart-broken that this list isn't 50/50 between the two? A little, but, let's face it... If you're trying to hook someone on Goo, which means they'll jump on the fan bandwagon NOW, why have a Takac-heavy list? The equality has shifted, for whatever reason, as of late... It's just how they do things. Same goes for having nothing on there prior to SSCW. It's just not representative of the band they are now, and I'm cool with it.

Oh, and there's this for a laugh: The Dolls supposedly need a bail-out.

and all the stars you see are on dirty sidewalks

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Goo Goo Dolls: Greatest Hits, Volume II

(prepare for a Wall of Text.)

So, back in July, or whenever, I pre-ordered Goo Goo Dolls: Greatest Hits, Volume II. That's the official name of the latest compilation Goo has done, under the guiding hand, I'm sure, of WBR, but it will be referred to as Vol II, by me at least. (Some Goobers vacillate on this, but I think I'm pretty consistent.)

I pre-ordered it, because by doing so you were guaranteed a deluxe edition/special edition of the album. This version was the normal/regular/standard version -a CD containing 22 songs, such as overlooked album tracks and covers spanning their career and a DVD with 17 of their music videos and five cuts from a concert- which is now available in stores (not sure what the MSRP is on it...), with the additional ENTIRETY of their sold-out 2007 Red Rocks performance, shot in super-pretty High-Def, originally aired on the HDNet channel, as a music special, whereas the regular version only had five cuts from that show.

In addition, you also received a small, (idk...) 4'' by 4'' lithograph of the cover-art. Along with this came the possibility, I assumed in a lottery-like fashion (though I may be wrong), of having it signed by the band.

So, basically, you're paying more for the complete concert, and a possibly-signed lithograph. Being the Goober that I am, I jumped at the chance. I received mine the day before it came out in stores, and yes, my Litho is signed, as is a number of Goobers'. For the record, these were hand-signed, since Goo is very dedicated and only re-produce-sign some CDs. (Any Goober reading this can think back to the autographed GF cds on sale during THAT major tour - the one with Vanessa Carlton and Third Eye Blind opening.)

And now, as I promised two-or-three particular Goobers, here's my review. (Yeah, I'm gonna semi-copy what Steph did... Meh, she beat me to it! LOL)

Before I start, let me say that this WHOLE collection, I believe in my heart of hearts, was NOT the idea of the Dolls. I think this WHOLE thing was masterminded, primarily at least, by WBR. No, I don't have any real evidence to back up this Goo theory, save for a time when Rzeznik practically admitted in an interview that it's the idea of the record label to release a Greatest Hits with a part-two containing rarities, later. Something along those lines. This makes complete sense to me, since I, personally, often associate Greatest Hits packages/releases with the Swan Songs of bands. It's posing a curtain call; in this case, far too early, in my opinion, because Goo is at work on new material, right now, as I type, and who knows? Perhaps their best/greatest is still yet to come.

Then again, the music industry is, indeed, an industry, and the purpose is profit. Capitol records did the same thing to my #2 band, Everclear: rushed out a Best Of collection once EC cut ties with them, and eventually themselves (only to return, later, reconfigured). And, although I've always seen EC as cousins, or as Elseworld versions of the Dolls, that West-Coast band is a topic for another rant.

Regardless, Vol I was always knowingly going to be a simple collection of the hits. No one had any reservations against that. It was not advertised or hinted at being anything more. So, when it came out back in November of 07, Goobers were fine with it. It was soon after that talk began of what Vol II WOULD BE.

And, thus, here's the first rub. To an extent, the fans and possibly the band were mislead/given false hope/possibly even entirely misinformed about what Vol II would be. From day one this set was blown out of proportion, raised from the balconies of a mere CD/DVD set to the lofty precipices of a box-set. From the mouths of WBR, the Goo Camp, various fan boards, fan clubs, normal fans, and even Rzeznik and Takac came the following itemization: ALL videos, some with commentary, the entire Red Rocks concert, possibly with commentary just as LiB had commentary, all or nearly all covers, including new covers, rare archived footage from public access television, original songs posed as B-Sides from soundtracks, vintage concert footage, demos of songs, remixes, instrumentals, and/or possibly even a few new songs. In one way or another, that is what Goobers began to believe Vol II would be.

After surviving a fake tracklist, Goobers became aware of what Vol II *is* and, possibly, had always been in the minds of those involved. What is it? It is a cross between LiB (though not nearly as epic, despite whatever the commercial for Vol II says) and an overlooked-album-tracks collection they released back in 2000 called What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art, and Commerce (EOAC), originally geared toward international fans. Vol II, as much as I love it, and I do, despite however the tone of this may seem, is a simple CD/DVD set that is awarding *enough*... Then again, it had one hell of a reputation preceding it, for nearly nine anticipatory months.

I won't go track by track like Steph did, because I don't really see the point (although she's damn good at it), since, *really* the CD, despite Iris-demo and We'll Be Here When You're Gone-remix, is a collection I could have made on my own, which means that the hardcore Goobers bothering to read this, could probably have made it themselves, too. That said, I'll just be hitting on what I feel to be the major peaks and valleys of the cd.

First off, I've got to commend the packaging and art work. The teal/olive scheme of this edition is gorgeous. Wendy's photography skills shine inside the insert, and the art direction is different and edgy, with a vague throw-back feel, while still seeming perfectly Gooey with the familiar presence of circles on the actual discs. It all works well with the concept of this compilation. I was, however, a little jarred by there being NO thank-yous. I scoured, expecting Melina, Miyoko, and Krista to pop up, amongst others... Or, hell, even random reminiscences concerning Laurie or Tammy, which is near-impossible, or even George, but... There was nothing. I was really surprised. Of course, it's not a big deal. It doesn't matter. I'm not bitching that there's no thank-yous, just pointing it out, because I thought they'd be there.

The biggest flaw, despite sheer song-selection, which is a complete matter of personal choice, so I won't even *go there*, the CD has is its sequencing. The similar compilation, EOAC, had a simple sequencing idea: drifting back in time. It started with the most recent works, at the time being from DUTG, and worked its way back to a track from their first album. In theory, it worked, and, you know what, it worked in execution as well.
It's not what they did, at all, with Vol II. Now, I'm not saying they should have copied EOAC, because then some Goobers could complain about *that*. I'm just saying, it might have worked better, all around, if they had gone in that direction, or in the other direction (a la earliest to latest). Instead, the album, as awesome as it is, comes off a bit jumbled, or seemingly-poorly planned, sequencing wise, of course. We start in 1998, jump back to 1993, then to 1995, then to a live 2007 recording of a '98 song, back to '97, a torn apart demo of a '98 song, way back to '91 or '92 and here we stay for a few songs... In the older eras. Well, we jump back to '87, then to '89, back to '93, an '08 remix of an '06 song, '06, '95, and then a double stop in '02. (And, on a personal note, that dead-end almost breaks my heart, because it is either a tribute to GF by giving the last two tracks of this section to that album, or it's a last-minute 'Oh, shit, we forgot about GF' instance. I refuse to think the latter.)
And, that is just the first 15 songs: the EOAC-ish overlooked-album-tracks. (The covers are a bit more in the same range, mid-90s, minus the ending '01 performance of American Girl.)
But, one can guess, without even knowing the song-titles, how odd it must sound. And, I'll be honest, it sort-of flows, but sort-of doesn't all at the same time. I don't know if Goo were trying to do this back and forth (hell... I'll just call it...) attempt at Time Compression to prove the sell-out-accusers wrong by trying to show that: 'HEY! Listen to all of it, all at once, in one sitting, and you'll hear that the melodic nature, the familiar chords and tunings, and the vague accessible lyrics have, really, always been there, in varying degrees' *or* if it was, truly, just poor planning. I don't know. I don't pretend to know, but... I will believe the former, since according to interviews, the Dolls are very hands-on with the sequencing of their albums, like EOAC for instance.

I adore all the special tracks, except American Girl, but that's just because I've never been the biggest American Girl fan. And that applies to Petty's original, Goo, and EC, who has also covered it for years, before Goo did. Of course, I'm not saying I hate it! That's not the case at all. I'm just a little tired of it.
Iris-demo is amazing, if for anything else, the ability to show how a song can grow and change and become finished and polished. Some Goobers don't like the demo and only see the merit of it as what I've just described: they don't *like* it as a stand-alone song. I do. I really do. Now, do I think that it, finished as it had been, in this demo-state, released like that and just merely finalized... Do I think it would have been the stellar hit as the Iris we all know was? No. I think it would have gotten some airplay, in the vein of Jewel's Foolish Games or Counting Crows' Colorblind. It's *that* sort of somber and under-hyped, yet still touched by a studio.
WBHWYG-remix made my jaw drop. I haven't had this happen, to this *degree*, by any of Rzeznik's songs since - you guessed it - Black Balloon (both the album and LIA versions, of course). Yeah, that's right, I went there. I just sort-of compared WBHWYG-remix to BB. I ain't taking it back. But, here's the catch: Goobers seemed really torn over it. Simply: you'll love it, or you'll hate it. There's in-betweens with the Iris-demo, but with this one?... Oh, it's so polar.
And, if you like it, you'll like the live All Eyes On Me, which is just imported over, in audio form, from the RR concert. Hell, if you don't like WBHWYG-remix, you might still like AEOM-live.

Besides petty personal preferences, I don't have anything else to say-


Takac has, including the covers, four songs, not including a Rzezkac. That's out of 22. He had six on EOAC. But, you know, whatever. I expect this; it's just how things are, and any Goober worth their salt, after searching their heart of hearts and swimming up the Denial river, will know this to be true.

The Red Rocks show I had seen before, shared (yes, I know, shush.) and viewed on my Lappy. Truth be told, it was much more overwhelming on the small screen. On a real TV, the glaring offenses show.
For one: I can, with a clear conscience, put aside favoritism and say that Takac's three songs/performances entertained me far more than Rzeznik's six-teen. And this comes from a show with a clearly-Rzeznik-centered audience, sold-out show or not. Rzeznik phoned-in the performance, more or less. He played it well, but he played it *safe*, and after being accustomed to balls-out shows like LIB and numerous times I've seen them myself... This was underwhelming, but still a good show. But, perhaps, it's wrong of me to compare...?

As far as the music videos are concerned, I nearly cried when I watched them all, so proud of how far they've come. (Sorry, MB20, I had to borrow that line.)

Casual fans need to buy this to see at least some representation of Goo that's been lost, the Goo that's tucked away in albums hard-to-find, or out of print, and long-time/hardcore fans need to add this to their collection in order to reminisce and remember why they love this band.

And, that's the end of this wall of text. If you read it: God. Bless. You.

it's not always about a boy and a girl.