Anyone with any understanding would remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely, when they’ve come from the light into the darkness and when they’ve come from the darkness into the light.†
Sorry folks. I’m not going to talk about the classic Patsy Cline tune. I may someday because that too belongs in my music listening catalog.
Today I’m talking about a rather weak Supertramp album called Famous Last Words. Even bandmember Roger Hodgson retrospectively admitted that the album wasn’t very good.
Recorded in his California home studio, Hodgson later regretted making this record saying it was “a last-ditch attempt to try and make things happen” after the life had gone out of the band.[*]
If it’s an unfortunate album, then why talk about it?
Well, as part of revisiting aspects of my past, music listening is a quick and easy way to ‘travel,’ as it were. While listening to songs from days gone by, I usually recall the exact location and life circumstances surrounding a given tune.
It’s like my soul takes a snapshot enabling me to review a ‘total image,’ providing the time is right (ancient Greek = Kairos).
I don’t know if this is normal, perhaps it’s quite common. I’ve often compared the process to Windows Restore Points where essential info is saved or in my case, crystallized into a kind of gestalt memory.
The life circumstances around the time of this album’s release were quite daunting, to put it mildly.
Right if you win, wrong if you lose
Nobody listens when you’re singing the blues
I’d checked out the vinyl record from the library and was listening in the basement of our old home. The basement was a nice space replete with stereo and homemade speakers, a bar (containing a photographic darkroom instead of booze), an upright grand piano with a few broken keys and a TV. And I recall listening to this sad LP with sadness.
After hearing the entire album again, I mostly agree with my reflections written a couple of weeks ago. Even the hit songs are on the weak side… We’d mostly heard it all before, and better.
But damn. This tune was going through my head last night, so I had to feature it.
Famous Last Words still sounds sad to me. A farewell to a once pretty great band.
I don’t even like the album cover art. It’s like an uninspired sunset photo with washed-out colors and a bad camera angle.
But out of respect for this otherwise brilliant band, and for my personal memories, I feel like talking about the album today.
Like the ancient philosopher Plato and his timeless dialogues, form and content merge in Famous Last Words but unlike Plato, they do so to ill effect. Lackluster songs, lyrics and musicianship make the disc a bit of a downer.
It’s hard to believe this is the same band that released Fool’s Overture or Give a Little Bit.
Despite this record’s banal hits driven by commercial radio programmers who know what everyday working folk listen to during their commute and in the office, not many music aficionados really liked Famous Last Words.
And no, the album title wasn’t a purposeful hint that the band was going to break up, which they did.
That just happened.
Goodbye Supertramp. It was real! 🙂
† From my favorite translation of Plato’s Cave Analogy Anyone with any understanding would remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely, when they’ve come from the light into the darkness and when they’ve come from the darkness into the light. Realizing that the same applies to the soul… (see page 5).
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