Everything to Everyone (Okay, Maybe it’s Just Me)

Photo of my sister and me at a concert a couple years (and hella poundage) ago. 

AKA “Why I Love the Most Incredible* Band in The History of the World”  (*according to me, at least)

My post a few days ago about my love of reading also mentioned my love of Barenaked Ladies. You may not have had a clue what I was talking about. If that is so, it’s okay. I’m not offended, I promise. But I am going to give you some education. Or at least profess to you, valued reader, my undying affection for this little conglomerate of choral Canadians.

Since I can remember (so we’re going to say effectively 17-18 years) I have been listening to the band. I grew up trying to understand (and then actually say) the lyrics to One Week and throwing my voice out on “haven’t you always wanted a mon-KEY” in If I had $1,000,000 (I couldn’t find a video posted by their channel, but this is a pretty epic version). In case you were wondering- I can sing every single word to One Week just as quickly as lead singer Ed Robertson. And I do it every single time I hear the song, no matter who I am with or where I am. Not to show off, but to keep my BnL voice strong.

When I was in the fourth grade I was in a latchkey program before school. I remember distinctly hearing one boy sing “chickity China the Chinese chicken…” and then say “do you know who that’s by? The Barenaked Ladies!” Like it was somehow naughty. I also remember rolling my eyes at their ignorance and feeling a sense of smugness that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Like I knew some sort of secret-that BnL wasn’t anything to be talked about in hushed tones- they were MY band, and they should be shared with the world. In sixth grade we did an icebreaker where every person in the class brought in something to share with (show and tell style, not, like, cookies) the class. I, being the courteous child I was, and remembering my latchkey experience, asked my teacher if it was okay to bring in a BnL album so I could share my favorite band. I don’t think she knew the band, to be honest. She seemed shocked when I asked and then when I explained it was a group of fully clothed men, she got on her computer. Of course, I got the green light to proudly show off Stunt to my fellow classmates. I have always been happy to share their talent with as many people as possible.

I have put them on mix CDs for art class, given countless reports on them, and have even written two psychology papers about their lyrical descriptions of certain sociological concepts. I freaking love this band.

Now, I in no way can even begin to tell you how little I actually know about music. I am not going to tell you how this melody or that harmony are awesome or this chord progression is like totally gnarly or anything. But I do know a little bit about people and a solid amount about the English language, poetry, and writing in general. So here are a few reasons why I am such a fan…

One: they’re awesome dudes. 

My sister and I have a habit of making sure we get to meet the band whenever they’re in town. We’ve now met them…once? twice? maybe three times, and every time they’ve been warm and kind, albeit a bit rushed. I know multiple people who have spent a solid amount of time in their presence and like them enough to corroborate my assumption that they’re swell guys. They always have a shit ton of fun on stage, are always happy to help families with kids get to the front row so the kiddos can strum guitars or sing into mics, and they are just so damn into the environment. Who doesn’t love a kind, kid-loving hippie, let alone a whole group of them?

Two: they have bomb lyrics

Wordplay upon wordplay all while keeping their grammar up to par make this band not only witty but also erudite. Check out the lyrics for almost any of their songs (keep it pre-break up for the true genius that was their entirety, although their new stuff is still stellar) and you’ll find singable, relatable songs with a complexity that continuously boggles the mind. I am still finding nuances in songs, even after listening to them hundreds of times. I will never tire of singing along to a song of theirs and suddenly realizing what it’s about. They weave deep and complex emotions, current events, and pop-culture references with sometimes simple, mostly fun, and often funny, lyrics.

Three: they make a statement and they stick to it

Barenaked Ladies, even as a Canadian band, has written quite a few songs referencing how ridiculous they have found actions taken by the American government (mostly when Dubya was in office). They have never backed down from their views, and that really strikes true with me.They also have written songs about and show through actions their commitment to the environment and keeping it safe and healthy. I find it awesome that a band, even a mildly famous one such as BnL, refuses to back down from a potentially controversial standpoint.

Four: they drop knowledge through their music

One song has a reference to the velocity at which objects fall, another states “you can call me Pavlov’s dog/ ring a bell and I’ll salivate/how’d you like that?” A number on their new album, Grinning Streak, is entirely about mathematical odds and how often people fall in love. What the hell? THAT’S SO COOL! Barenaked Ladies have an incredible way of taking information, be it current events, pop culture references (sometimes ridiculously dated ones, but that’s okay), or straight-up schooling, and blending them into a ballad, folk tune, or pop hit.

This post was inspired by two Snapchat messages I received today. One was from a sorority sister of mine whom I have not seen in years. It was a screenshot of “One Week” playing on her computer and she wrote “I can’t listen to this song without thinking of you.” The other message was a video from a friend in a store where they were playing “Pinch Me.” He wrote “your band is playing!” This, this right here, is awesome. I hope for the rest of my life, if only one thing is remembered of me by someone, it is that I am an incredibly huge fan of this group of marvelous musicians. This post is a way of keeping that goal in mind.

Peace out, folks! Until tomorrow.

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