18 September 2010

Barkeep's Jukebox: "Has Been" by William Shatner

This week, your barkeep is spinning William Shatner's 2004 album Has Been.  If you've ever wanted the definition of pop art, here it is.  Has Been is novel, but it is not a mere novelty.  So if you're planning to hop on over to Amazon and order a copy, here's what you might want to pick up at the liquor store.

"Common People" - The courting of a well-bred young woman raised in an ivory tower.  You can go one of three ways here.  You can have a rum & Coke, mentioned in the lyrics.  You can start with something swank and trendy (coming from the perspective of the young woman) or you can have something blue-collar.  If you go trendy, I'd say Hypnotiq should do the trick.  If you go blue collar, I suggest Molson Canadian.

"It Hasn't Happened Yet" - A very somber narration about a bleak winter day, reflecting about unrealized potential.  This song is the emotionally equivalent of a Newfoundland winter.  Drown your misery with Iceberg vodka; chilled and straight, or mix a screwdriver if you prefer.

"You'll Have Time" - Perhaps the greatest "live life" song ever recorded.  You'll have time to reflect on the opportunity you squandered to live it up.  Pop the cork on a bottle of expensive, impressive champagne.

"That's Me Trying" - An older guy makes a somewhat pathetic effort to reach out to his estranged middle-aged daughter.  Sometimes we forget that the best others have to offer falls short of our own standards of behavior or expectations.  Have an Old-Fashioned, but mix it with Wiser's Reserve.  It's bittersweet and has the burn from the whiskey.  Dropping in a cherry just seems insulting at this point.

"What Have You Done" - More a poem than anything else, Shatner wrote this about his wife's suicide.  It's okay to pass on a drink here, but if you want to have an Irish whisky as though you were at the wake, I think that would be appropriate.  His vocals here are outright chilling.

"Together" - Co-written with Shatner's third wife, this is a sweet-natured ode to his new love.  It's both appropriate and odd that it directly follows the song about his previous wife's suicide; we don't need to "see" the process by which he survived the darkness to find rejuvenation.  It's enough that we have a glass of wine and toast to ongoing happiness; life does go on.  I'd recommend a chilled white wine here; perhaps a pinot blanc.  Go ahead and smile when the warmth hits your cheeks.  It's okay.

"Familiar Love" - Slow-burning jazz here; Shatner celebrates the predictable behavior of his beloved, which only endears him to her after years of unstable relationships.  Drink something reliable yourself.  This sounds like an instance for a Jack Daniel's.  On the rocks, mixed with Coke, whatever makes you happy.

"Ideal Woman" - Back to some humor now; we hear how "I want you to be you"...with some nitpicking exceptions.  There's a very psychedelic groove with a vaguely Latin tinge here that just begs to be accompanied by a tequila sunrise.

"Has Been" - Set to a sound directly out of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores, Shatner calls out the wanna-bes and never-weres who get off on putting down people who've actually done something.  It's scathing, but fun.  You have two choices here.  You can follow that tequila sunrise from the last song with a straight shot of tequila, or you can have another whiskey-based drink.  Anything else is unacceptable.

"I Can't Get Behind That" - A stream-of-consciousness litany of pet peeves and irritants that escalates from amusement to fury.  I have absolutely no idea what to recommend here.

"Real" - Written by, and featuring, Brad Paisley, this is a song about how Shatner the person isn't Shatner the public persona (he is particularly not Captain Kirk).  It's far more humble than his famous Saturday Night Live "Get a Life!" sketch.  "Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm real."  Mr. Shatner, you've not disappointed--certainly not with this album.  I toast your creativity with a Crown Royal on the rocks.