Marshall Crenshaw Plays “There She Goes Again”

marshallcrenshawalbumListen to this song by unabashedly pop singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw.  It’s the lead track off of his 1982 self-titled debut Marshall Crenshaw – “There She Goes Again”, which is possibly the most optimistic and well-adjusted break-up song ever written.

If you imagine that Elvis Costello or Graham Parker had sunnier dispositions, you might also imagine that they might sound a little like Marshall Crenshaw, who penned the songs on his first album as a means of making a pure pop record that made people feel good.  Where the brilliance of Costello’s  My Aim is True and Parker’s Howling Wind as debut albums can’t be denied, Crenshaw’s debut let’s the sun shine in while drawing on very similar influences.

Perhaps it’s Crenshaw’s American ‘can do’ attitude.  Or maybe he was still reeling from having played the part of John Lennon in the first off-broadway run of the stage show Beatlemania before he cut his record.  Still, whatever the reason, the album and particularly this song, lays out an optimistic worldview while at the same time avoiding patronizing his audience with lyrical platitudes.

This is my favourite Crenshaw tune.  It’s the tale of a guy thrown over by a former love, yet completely without the self-pity that often goes along with it in pop songs.  The guy is still in love with her.  Yet he knows that she will never be happy with him, searching as she is for something he can’t give her.  So he wishes her well, and let’s her go without malice.  You’d think that there’d be little drama in a tale like that.  But there’s still a struggle to get over her, watching her chase her empty dreams with ‘another guy’. Where a lesser tune might heep feelings of misery upon the narrator, Crenshaw turns this expectation on its head.  Because he loves her, he’s sad that she can’t find happiness.

Apart from all of that is the tune, which often gets stuck in my head, as do many tunes off of this album which draws from Buddy Holly (whom he would portray in the 1987 movie La Bamba) and the early Beatles as main influences. Plus, Crenshaw pulls off  a storming version of Arthur Alexander’s ‘Soldier of Love’ from 1962, which couldn’t have been viewed as a commercial move even back in 1982.  Yet, Crenshaw would follow his own path from this point forward, never really finding a place in the A-list pop-rock pantheon, yet still remaining a respected figure as a classic guitar-pop songwriter among a tight circle of devoted fans.

For more information and music about Marshall Crenshaw, check out the Marshall Crenshaw website for more news and fan goodies.


Hoodoo Gurus Play “What’s My Scene?”

Here’s a clip of Antipodean power pop underdogs Hoodoo Gurus with their jangly anthem for the uncool, “What’s My Scene?” as taken from their 1987 disc, Blow Your Cool!.  If you’re looking for candidates for the most ironic and self-referential would-be pop smash ever recorded, I’d say this should make anyone’s top five.

The 80s was the decade of the demographic where radio and pop music was concerned.  It was during this time when a record release was becoming less about the songs on the album itself, and more about the buzz surrounding it, even before anyone heard a note.  And post-MTV and Thriller, visuals and production values ruled the day.  In short, 1987 was a poor time to be a goofy, poorly dressed power-pop band, let alone one from Australia.

The odds were against Hoodoo Gurus by the late 80s in the image department – too quirky, too idiosyncratic, too unpolished by half.  All of these were cardinal sins in the 80s, at least when it came to mainstream success.  So as the band was on a major label (Elektra), it was thought that a production overhaul on this their third album in working with the same producer who oversaw albums by fellow Australian outfits INXS, The Divinyls, and AC/DC – Mark Opitz – might do the trick for North American radio.

Luckily, Opitz merely sharpened up what had been there all along, instead of trying to jam this group into a mold that didn’t suit them.  As such, the sound is crisp yet spacious and the songs shine through.  And of course, the group’s left-of-centre take on the world still shines.  These guys remain proud to never really fit in at the cool kids’ table, during a time when nearly everyone in their position would do nearly anything to do just that.  As such, the record is a success.

Where it might have been something of a danger to take an idiosyncratic band and try to market them 80s style, the strength the material makes this as charming and cheeky as anything they’d ever done. This song and the album off of which it comes didn’t set the world on fire.  Yet it certainly makes for great, and timeless, power pop which was coming out of an age that didn’t value music this straightforward in the mainstream.  And of course it has the best opening line in any song I can immediately think of – “… And another thing”.  The subject matter of this song proves that the band had everything in perspective enough to be able to allude to the answer to their own musical question.

They were their own scene.

For more music and information, check out the Hoodoo Gurus MySpace Page.