Pray to Sony my soul to keep

It looks like I wasn't the only person who was a little disappointed with the new iPod announcements this week. I love the idea of the touch screen but there's no way I could operate with just 16 gigs of space for music. I love the giant hard drive on the 160 gig iPod Classic, but I really want it with a touch screen. I have a feeling that combo's a couple of years away and I fear Declan won't last that long, so I've started saving my pennies for a 160 gig Declan 2.0. Hopefully, I won't need a new one any time soon, though.


And now I want to tell you a little story about today's album...

For 90% of the world, Semisonic is a classic one-hit wonder band. "Closing Time" was all over the radio in the spring and summer of '98 and they were never heard from again. For me, "Closing Time" was the beginning of the end of a years long love of the band. Let me explain.

I can't remember the first time I saw Semisonic, but I know I was working at The Blue Note at the time so it was probably 1996 or so. They must have been opening for another band I liked, because I can't imagine going to the show otherwise. Either way I left that night with their first album, Great Divide. As the months progressed, I continued to force that album on my friends, insisting they listen to my favorite tracks or including them in mix tapes (yes, back then it was really tapes).

In January of 1998, I headed out for a semester in London, where I was left with the stack of CDs I brought and the little radio I picked up for a few dollars at a Radio Shack. I came back home in May with a deep knowledge of Natalie Imbruglia and Spacehog but no idea that while I was gone the band I loved had become a household name. Semisonic had released Feeling Strangely Fine and their single was on the radio every five minutes. I was used to always explaining who Semisonic was to everyone and now they were those "Closing Time" guys.

That summer I caught their Summerfest show in Milwaukee and had to put up with one of those terrible crowds that is only there to hear the hit single. It made me sad. Suddenly, there were people everywhere at their shows, but they only wanted to hear one song.

Most people don't know Feeling Strangely Fine is a great album. I can't say I listen to it much these days, but when I dusted it off for this listen, I still loved it. "This Will Be My Year" still makes me feel positive about my life and "California" stands out in that crowded group of songs about the state.

In March, 2001 when the band finally got around to releasing All About Chemistry, it had been too long between albums, and no one seemed to remember who they were. Chemistry wasn't their best work either, and I'm sure their label had high expectations. I can't say I know what happened, but now the band is no more. Lead singer Dan Wilson did win a Grammy last year for writing "I'm Not Ready To Make Nice" with the Dixie Chicks, so maybe a few other people will go back and check out the band they wrote off as a one-hit wonder.


Kelly said...

I don't really have anything to say about Semisonic ... but I kind of love Natalie Imbrugila.

Josh said...

Reading this just reminded me that I saw Semisonic when they toured for Feeling Strangely Fine! (Lately I seem to be remembering a lot of bands that I had totally forgotten about seeing. Why, yes, Toadies, you did open for the Chili Peppers, didn't you?)

It was a good show, but I never listened to a full album. Their first single, "Down in Flames," was my favorite. Maybe I will put that on a mix CD!

Also: Show-offy mention of Trip Shakespeare here, to impress readers with my musical knowledge. Impress. Impress.

Eileen said...

You know, I went back and listened to some Trip Shakespeare after I became a big Semisonic fan and I was not impressed.

Shawn said...

I caught a pick...that's all I've got to contribute.