Thursday, May 28, 2009


News of Steven Page leaving The Barenaked Ladies was big news in Canada a few months back. It wasn't the Beatles breaking up, no, but for Canadians, it was close enough.

BNL has come to represent everything fun and heartfelt, goofy and socially conscious about Canada. When I was in high school, the band broke free from Scarborough with word-of mouth copies of their debut 'yellow tape', a homemade cassette sold at concerts and passed around Ontario. My brother would stick it in the tape deck as we drove for running workouts in and around St.Catharines. I remember how proud I was of them when their first CD came out. And when they played Saturday Night Live. And when they then hit number one in the States with 'One Week'. (Their second CD provided the soundtrack for my freshman year of university. The cold and windy North York winters were soothed by endless repeats of two or three songs on my CD player. Knowing that Steven Page and Ed Roberts, the lead singers, both attended my university made the sounds even sweeter. Even now, fifteen years on, I can clearly picture my dorm room in Winters College, and my roommate, Nathan, out and about somewhere, and me lying on my back, listening to the wind and the Barenaked Ladies battle each other for sonic supremacy.)

And now Page, the big guy, is on his own, and the others will continue on in their own specific way, shape and form.

I'm sure the newly emancipated Page will do good stuff, as will the Ladies, but still.

Some things shouldn't end.

Here's my favorite BNL song, with Page on stage singing lead vocals:

And here's my second favorite (technically a cover, but what the hell):


Early this morning, while hustling in and out of the 7-11 near my station, I found myself humming along to the muzak bubbling forth from the convenience store's speakers, and it took me a second to recognize the tune, and then I realized that it was the theme song from Welcome Back Kotter, and the fact that it had been converted to muzak, and that I was listening to such a bizarre rendition of a beloved seventies' sitcom from my early childhood in a convenience store in Yokohama, provided a much needed early-morning boost to a rainy day in May. I am now in Japan, reasonably adult, but somewhere, in some other realm, I'm still seven, on the couch, and Mr.Kotter is still trying to get Epstein and Washington, Barbarino and Horschack to sit down and shut up.