By the back room, the kids all waited
To meet the man in bright green
Who had dreamed up the dream that they rest their hearts upon
He's the liar who lied in his pop song
And you're lying when you sing along
-- from Okkervil River's 'Pop Lie'
When I saw this photo -- of Okkervil River lead singer Will Sheff in a New York Times review of a hipster Brooklyn concert -- I sat transfixed. In admiration, fascination, embarrasment and rage. I've never seen a photo of a bigger lie in all my life.
Let's try to think of reasons why someone -- particularly with that sort of beard -- could possible justify such an expression:
a) a South Carolina private anguishing over one last charge up the hill at Gettysburg; it's been more than any human can endure (not to mention wearing wool in muggy July temps), and he knows success will not come, yet he stomachs-up in the name of South Carolina Glory
b) he's been hit in the back with a large board
c) he's a muscular dystrophy victim who has just been bitten by a rat or American gopher
Well, I can't think of any other possible explanations. Except, said hopefully, sarcasm?
Listening to Okkervil River -- named for a short story by contemporary Russian writer Tatiana Tolstaya -- there are plenty of pokes at subjects of songs, which seem frequently to be the hispter quotient who fills their shows and downloads their albums. The Times compared one song to Dylan's take-no-prisoners swipe 'Positively 4th St' and you get a sense that pretty much everything works off the same. In Blue Tulip, his Gettysburg charge peaks with this line: 'with every single cell of me, I'm going to make you mean the words you sigh; you lie.' Other song titles include 'Pop Lie,' 'Title Track' and 'Singer Songwriter.'
So it's possible the photo is faux earnestness to mock the sweet Brooklyn night?
By the way, the band is pretty good.
Other lies include the back cover of REM's Reckoning where Pete Buck earnestly plays a piano -- an instrument he has no ability to play. We've already discussed how the Bass Player of Coldplay lies too.
A lot is said of Pennsylvania's LIVE lead singer Ed Kowalczyk -- for the unexplainable rat tail he wears, kung-fu stances, or shirtless appearance in early videos -- but a far bigger curiosity of the band is the guitarist Chad Taylor. Watch the video 'I Alone' (below). Try the 0:53, the fake smile at 1:06, the overdone back-up singing from 1:45 to 1:50, then -- this is truly unreal -- watch at 3:10 where he looks to the off-screen monitor to see how his hair looks as he sings along, fully believing in the 'we're Nirvana too' angst of their carefully chosen single.
It's also worth pointing out that the video appears to be one single long shot, with a few isolated shots interjected -- of Chad Taylor alone. Note how the other two members -- the bass player and drummer -- play game to the bad idea, though convey how they'd rather be touring the Hershey chocolate factory.
--> Tip: New non-failed bands, try not to do this.
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY