Sunday, February 17, 2008

Has Been

Talk about unexpected bedfellows; how about William Shatner and
Henry Rollins?
That would be Capt. Kirk and the lead of the hardcore punk band Black Flag (who, it turns out, is three weeks older than me). Rollins is now a spoken word artist.

Together on Shatner's album Has Been (2004), they perform a funny rant about things that bug them:
"I Can't Get Behind That".
(I don't know if this link will stay live, but as of this morning, I could listen to the entire song here.)

The things they "can't get behind" include the usual modern annoyances and woes:
cell phones, leaf blowers, dying polar bears, getting fat, etc.
(Makes me wonder about our friend Bill's life--I have a hard time believing he doesn't hire gardeners who use leaf blowers.)
But their little riff of outrage on religious inanity is the highlight (it's funnier to hear Shatner's overblown delivery, of course):

BILL: I can't get behind the gods who are more vengeful, angry, and dangerous if you don't believe in them!

ROLLINS: Why can't all these gods just get along?
I mean, they're omnipotent and omnipresent, what's the problem?

BILL: What's the problem? I can't get behind that.

I would never voluntarily have listened to anything Bill Shatner recorded--his unrestrained schmaltz usually makes me cringe with embarrassment.
Lee and Faith basically forced me to listen to Has Been, and I was surprised. I never thought of Shatner as a self-reflective guy who could laugh at himself, but in songs like "Real," he is, and he laughs at--not with--us too:

"...the next time there's an asteroid or a natural disaster,
I'm flattered that you thought of me,
But I'm not the one to call.
Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm real."

Shatner may be a real-life has-been television star, but it seems everyone wants to work with Captain Kirk. At least, he pulls in some surprising people on this album, besides Rollins. Country-Western star Brad Paisley backs Shatner up on "Real."

This is "Real" set to a slide show of Shatner's life:


Krista said...

Rollins does a wonderful bit on this in his current spoken word show.

I have such a love-hate relationship with Rollins' work. Spoken word stuff, past and present? Love. Old music (Black Flag up to 1997 or so)? Love. New music? Eh. IFC show? Loathe. Just in case you wondered. ;)

fresca said...

Ah, you are way ahead of me, Krista!

I have to fess up:
I am not really up on music; it is something I run into when I'm looking for other things (like ST).
In fact, I often listen to Country-Western radio while I work (it's generally like elevator music) and know more about Brad Paisley than Rollins...

bink said...

I listened to 3 other Shatner tracks after listening to the Rollins/Shatner track you linked to... who would have guessed Shatner gravitated so much to punk? On the other hand, assuming these "songs" have more to say about Shatner's "real" personality than his role as Captain Kirk did; I found him (in these 4 songs) disconcertingly like my father.

I'm talking underlying world view and sense of humor. Right from the first "I can't get behind that" he started sounding like my dad. That's a bit sobering...their lives couldn't have been more different...but maybe they share an "oversoul". Scary!

fresca said...

I know what you mean Bink--that's one reason I don't pay much attention to Shatner--it's Captain Honeybear I love, not the real man who plays him.