Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Make Believe..rs!

Okay, I've listened to the live version 50 times and now the studio version "recorded live in a car" another 50 times. I've read the lyrics posted on Thornleyfans. My pre-release judgement is ready to be rendered. With the promise from Ian of a return to headphone enjoyment, I have to say this single is as consummate a track as Ian has EVER recorded.

Tavis, Cale and Eric who do background vocals on the live version, add a bit of a different flavor "live" and it is different in a good way. I do not miss it in the studio version, but I look forward to the live because of it.

It seems, as well, that Ian will now be marketed as "himself'. As much as we like/enjoy his co-horts in all their combinations we must acknowledge that whether a flaw or strength, Ian captains his own ship to it's prevail or demise. A creative entrepreneur, that I'm sure frustrates/thrills his team. Giving credit to those around him, from Big Wreck, through multiple Thornley live lineups, each has added his own spice to push Ian. Business delays can and do kill the emotional momentum that a band, as a unit, thrive on. You can just practice, or "side project" so much before 'team" goes away. People gotta eat.

We've all been blessed to have over 30 songs in demo, live or with other artists that clue us to the seemingly bottomless pit of creativity that is Thornley; Any one of which, to us faithful, could be considered a hit. For whatever reasons, Providence has not permitted the "breakthrough", for Ian. And speaking of "Breakthrough", "Make Believe" is certainly a companion song.

As was mentioned by someone on the thornleyfans message board, "Man Overboard" is the little brother to "Lost at Sea". At least metaphorically or thematically. Thanks to a GREAT recording of this one-off show with the nascent Thornley, we get to enjoy the powerful vision which quotes Zep's "Kashmir" and his own "Blown Wide Open". He takes us from languidly afloat on a raft to standing defiant in a storm, both musically and lyrically, all the while clueing us to his artistic journey; solo career plusses and minuses. I just realized that this song deserves it's own write-up. Later.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io
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That ability to reveal ones journey while telling a story is one of Ian's strengths. Duh, I guess you don't create in a vacuum. Big Wreck's "Breakthrough" exposited on the frustration of awaiting that game changing moment of elation when an artist cracks the charts. Couched in a "relationship" song, it's really about "making it" in the music biz. The longing to hit it with the public. I'll never know how this song wasn't a hit? I get goose bumps EVERY time. (Myles Kennedy sings on this one too. What I wouldn't give to see them do this live...oh boy!) So many levels of listening on this one. Great riff, great drumming, keyboards, bass line, the calliope breakdown, and that rave up ending, WOW; a true pop masterpiece. PLEASE!

Forward to December 2008, on the verge of new Thornley studio polish. YEARS of non-breakthrough. YEARS of fans holding their breath and Ian barely being. Make Believe. Another intimate snapshot of life in Thornley's head. And another pop masterpiece.

So Far So Good, Thornley's first hit was a bit of a departure for what we had come to expect from Ian, judging by the high standards of Big Wreck. But in it he nodded toward the reality of the market. The nu-metal production and a vocal cadence, not evidenced previously, won him new fans. Just enough nuance kept the old guard happy but wanting more. After four years delay and squandered momentum, Ian could perhaps start fresh as a "new" thing. Much has been learned in the process, and one of those lessons is to keep the faithful happy; no matter what flavor they come in... new or old.

In Make Believe, the vocal cadence is entirely modern, but the music is "classic". The baseline is subtle yet percolates. The drumming is VERY tasty. According to Ian, Daniel Adair is on some tracks, perhaps this one. It leave space and DOES not sound like anything Nickleback.

We’re rolling down the highway
I’m rolling down my window
Then I stick my hand out and drive with it as it flows
If I started thinking, instead of looking back
You wouldn’t see me sinking, before they covered up the tracks

Your hand outside, in the wind of a moving vehicle, oscillates up and down, mirroring the music biz journey Ian has been on. UP and friggin' DOWN. Never stable. I give him credit for turning his struggle into his art. Don't think too much, just get to creatin'!

This is what it feels like, coming down
We’re all in the movie, can turn it off or shut it down
This is what it feels like, if that’s so
Then where is the director to tell us where the hell to go

What now? I've been locked into this machine, this movie, where I play this part, and the ending is inevitable but I don't know what it is. If it's so great to star in your own movie, how come this director is nowhere to be found. Where is the producer to give credence to my vision? I think he finally found it in Nick Raculinicz. The breadth of this song is evident even in this ultra-compressed youtube recording. I hear some sort of, dare I say, cowbell-ish percussion (or is it an artifact of the youtube recording - help!)

I’ve got this film in my head
They’ve scripted all that I’ve said
Let’s make it of real before we’re dead, because we’re
Close enough, we’re diamonds in the rough
Today’s the day we finally say can’t turn this movie off
And if we’re not, we might as well just blow this all to hell
It’s not a film or a fantasy we’re not just make believe

Going through the motions of life, the painful wait until the next dramatic scene, the wait is what kills ya. He talked about it in the interview that goes with this premier. People move on, go on to other things. It's not just this show biz entity; it's real people with real lives, that have to be sustained between the hits. Management needs to "LOOSE the Hounds!"

So this is what it feels like, running through my lines
I’m never need to ad lib; I find it’s just a waste of time
This is what it feels like, when the hero dies
On to the next one, funny how time flies

Going through the motions of presenting your "hero" (your single) that will rescue the album in the eyes of the soulless record company that just DOES NOT hear it. That feeling of not wanting to explain yourself, to sell the work further, beyond the obvious merit of the song itself. That's the ad lib that is tiring. Explaining yourself to the disinterested unexcitable gatekeeper: BOOOORing. Now it's YEARS of great heros dead to the world. Lost at Sea, Barely Be, Blind and on and on. Oh well.

Again we hit the power chorus that the market loves and Ian does so well. We are what we are! Diamonds in the rough! Just release the stuff. I wanna be done with it!

As long as I play me, and as long as you play you
God I love this scene, I gotta thank the cast and crew
Don’t let the credits roll, don’t let the credits roll

This is a nod to the fans, in my opinion. He is the me, and we are the you. In the end, it's about the fans accepting Ian's creations for what they are. As I've said before, Ian's sketches are cherished to me. I know most here feel this way. It's all at it's best when getting that direct appreciation from the fans with no annoying, but necessary, trappings between. Artist to fan. No execs, no journalists, no hype. It's only in tiny moments, that we never want to end, that we experience the "dreamy" mountaintop. People just aren't made to live on the mountantop. It's a precarious place. It's why we crave to be there. It's so rare. Like a dream we never want to end. Ian's music always meets his lyric. Hence the psychedelic harmonies that follow this section.

The music, specifically the baseline, is totally beatle-esque (Dear Prudence). The cascading vocal interplay I know will fill my head-phoned-head on December 12th. I only wish this part was twice as long. DAMN this market's short attention span.

Some of Ian's most impassioned singing (Vs Cornellian screaming previous) is on the outro. The progression is "Stairway to Heaven" but the details owe as much to XTC as much as Zep. It just makes me want to play it again; Just as all great pop songs strive to do.

Here is an XTC song that exemplifies the pop details that Ian calls up and Nick has rendered so nicely. This is a late 90's pop tune, from a band that took up the Beatles gauntlet like no other.

Greenman - XTC

MB is an unexpected pop twist from a guy who always thrills me. Having lived with all the faded, blurry shadows on the wall, that all the Myspace/youtube/message board postings have hinted at, I await the fullness of the new CD. Like Ian said in the interview, it's an eclectic mix. F'-categories! F-the box that you want to put him in.

"Release the Sounds!!!!"

Thank you Lord; it's gonna be a good year.

1 comment:

windsorleaffan said...

I love the way you write buk, thanx for such a great read!
You should be writing for Chart Attack (instead of the hack that did that review!)

aka Tracey