Thursday, November 29, 2007


Supertramp's Famous Last Words is the first cassette tape he ever owned. He wishes it could have been something cooler (that year it could have been A Broken Frame, or Dare, or Violent Femmes...) It is telling that while he can remember specifically how he acquired almost every piece of music in his collection, he can't remember purchasing Famous Last Words, even though it was his momentous first.

Owning music is a radically different experience that hearing it on the radio. It's the difference between having an ice cream parlor on your block and waiting for the ice cream truck to come by. He spent hours sitting in front of the stereo, doing nothing besides listening to Supertramp; certainly he has found himself in that state quite a few times since then.

It's still a pleasant listen, but in retrospect, Famous Last Words is a sweet, naive choice. The band was on the backside of the hill, and put together a lazy collection of songs that survey the entire lite rock spectrum of that moment. Billy Joel might have written 'Crazy'. 'Put on your old brown shoes' comes from the Elton John honky tonk repertoire. 'Bonnie' is Journey's 'Open Arms' with a strange Chariots Of Fire interlude. 'Know who you are' is a lost Kansas ballad. 'My kind of lady', complete with a Frankie Valli falsetto bit, would be better performed by Four Tops. Possibly most strangely, the darker/harder 'Waiting so long' is a piece of Pink Floyd quiet/loud theatricality. There are even echoes of Supertramp's own hits; 'C'est le bon' uses all the three-syllable rhymes left over from 'Logical song'.

One thing is incredibly a propos, however. If he thought he would grow up in a typical relationship with music, enjoying it and purchasing it in moderation, Famous Last Words is most ironic. 'It's raining again'? Apres ca, le deluge...