Stuart Thompson on William Shatner

A couple weeks back Stuart Thompson asked me to contribute something to his blog Listenlistenlisten. A great little blog based out of my 2nd favorite place in Ontario, London. I wrote a small little piece about Holy Fucks song Lovely Allen, and promptly asked Stuart to return the favor. So here's an album review all the way from London!..... Ontario!! Oh, and I couldn't agree more, I love this album too.

William Shatner - Has Been

You have to experience William Shatner's spoken-word album Has Been to understand why Shatner is a bit of a hidden gem. Produced by Ben Folds in 2004, it's actually an overflowing bucket of emotion from Shatner's tormented life. In the wrong state of mind, his talky, rhyming ramblings are so bad they're good. In the right state of mind, they're sincere and painful soliloquies about love, suicide and a roller-coastering career.

Like when he describes finding his wife dead after she committed suicide on "What Have You Done," a moving spoken-word masterpiece featuring a muted organ that barely drones behind his narrative: "And there she was: smaller and more vulnerable than she was in real life... Her finger in her throat sounded a click... Is this what death looks like?"

But mostly it's tongue-in-cheek bitterness about the man Shatner appears to be. The shouty rock harangue "I Can't Get Behind That" is a laundry list of gripes with the modern world. And this song, "Real," is a countryish confession about how much Shatner's image is misunderstood by those who love and hate him.

In a way, it's addressing all the people who won't give the album a chance. They hear that Shatner's made a spoken-word album and they assume so much. But "Real" is just that — a sincere glimpse at the man behind the image. A man with an incredible legacy — first as an actor, then as a joke, then as a renewed comedian and now, if you'll allow it, as a new age poet.


Stuart A. Thompson said...

Yes! I kind of wish I chose a different song. I chose "Real" because it connected to my point about addressing naysayers, but there's much better songs on this album.

Look it up on Grooveshark!!

Shawn William Clarke said...

Yeah, the whole album is really good. Definitely worth checking out.