So here's a feature I've come up with based on the news of one of my favorite bands signing with Yep Rock records and putting out a new record this August...
The concept is this...starting with The Fountains of Wayne, Me And... will trace my relationship with a band or artist on an item by item basis. After all, one of the beauties of music is that the relationships we form with our favorite artists are unique in and of themselves, informed as they are by our own life experiences. And hopefully, by delineating the growth of my appreciation and love of each artist, I hope to give you an understanding--and maybe even a similar love--of the artist and what makes them great.
So...The Fountains of Wayne is among my five favorite bands of all time, the exemplar of everything I love about gutar-based power pop. And my love of this band started where most people's awareness of the band begins and ends...namely, their biggest hit, "Stacy's Mom."
I had just begun working at the store I make my living at to this day, and my boss, most likely influenced by his young daughters, had insisted on piping the aural bilge that was Z100 into the store (thankfully, he has since backed away from this hard-and-fast stance). And what little joy I got from this horrific radio station--the absolute worst that Top 40 had to offer, cravenly following trends and forcing the same two, three songs down our throats ever hour on the hour--was those rare moments where something a little more fringe-y broke through to heavy airplay. This has happened recently when Mumford and Sons' bluegrass love song 'The Cave' found its way there, but usually these anomalies are few and far between.
And having this song pop up just as I started working in this Hellstore was the first instance I could think of. I was enthralled every time that distinct guitar strumming broke its way through the white noise Z-100 loves to assault us with so we don't have to think too much. I remember singing along to Adam Schlessinger's borderline-creepy tale of older-woman-fetishism every time.
And you know what? It wasn't until much later that I realized why I responded so much to this song.
You see, several years after 'Stacy's Mom' faded away into the aether of pop culture consciousness, I started listening to Dave Lifton's excellent podcast Wings for Wheels (It's no longer being produced, alas, but you can still download old episodes and keep up with Dave's musical musing at his music blog of the same name). In one episode, Dave--a massive Fountains of Wayne fan--pointed out how the song has an identical structure to early hits from The Cars...and it hit me that this was Adam's love letter to that band, an exact recreation filtered through The Fountain's unique harmonizing and world view.
And please don't get me wrong--this is indisputably a Fountains single. While the first stanza or so is pure Cars, the group claims the song as their own once the chorus hits. There's something very pure in the way the Fountains harmonize, and the whole 'bright melody hiding dark intentions' I love so much is there in spades. Schlessinger never lets you forget the fact that our POV character is using Stacy solely to get near his object of desire, and in his mind it's a matter of time before he has the MiLF of his dreams.
Now keep in mind that I loved this song loooooooong before I saw the video, which features a leather bikini'd Rachel Hunter. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed when I finally saw it; the song works best when the listener can project his or her own concepts on what makes this man go all head-over-heels for the mother, and having that fetish object solidified as a freckled blonde (and don't get me wrong--she's not my type, but Hunter definitely looks amazing for her age) sort of takes away that right from us. Also, soldifying Stacy--who in the video comes off as charming and vital--drives home the skeeviness of the POV character, dreaming about the mother while stringing along the daughter.
Eventually, 'Stacy's Mom' disappeared from Z-100's rotation and the Fountains faded from my own consciousness. It wasn't until much later, when I discovered a podcast by a rather cool Englishman, that the band started becoming one to watch....
Come back soon when I get to tell you a little story about flooring installers and potential celebrity stalking....