What the hell is this?

I Can't Stand [Meeting] You is a collection of all the ridiculous things I've written to and about drummer and composer Stewart Copeland.

I actually did meet him for about five crazy seconds in 2007, again for a few exciting moments in August 2009, and my most recent (and most thrilling!) encounter took place in October 2009, where I proved myself capable of being, yet again, a total dork in the man's presence.

I can't believe what I get up to. And neither should you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear Stewart,

Today's topic is showmanship.

You, sir, are a fun performer to watch. This almost goes without saying! I'm not even talking about just playing the drums - I've seen you now a couple of times speak (in person!) or give interviews (on TV!) or even at signings (see right column), and you know how to talk to people, even dorky people like me.

But there are some other people who could try a little harder, don't you think?

Last night, after the baby went to bed, Patrick and I watched a bunch of old Radiohead performances from the Jools Holland show. I had my usual complaint, the same one I have when I watch almost any live music on TV: the cameras were focused almost completely on the guitarists and (of course) Thom Yorke. That's fine, but see, some of us have a thing for drummers. What can I say, I just love 'em. Some of us (fans of John Paul Jones, John Entwhistle, and John McVie, for instance... wait, are all the bassists I like named "John"?) like to watch the bassist, too. And, I haven't watched a lot of live Radiohead so I was curious to see them all on stage.

Here's what I discovered:

I hate to say it, but Phillip Selway is one dull drummer.

After all these years as a Radiohead fan, I was really surprised and disappointed to come to this conclusion, especially considering how much I really enjoy his playing - to listen to. Maybe he feels that Jonny Greenwood's weird introverted yet show off-y antics are more "show" than any band really needs (and I would tend to agree), but man, the guy doesn't actually play dull stuff. So how can it be that watching him is so damn frustrating?

You can tell by listening to him play that he can swing, that he can play, that he has power and a really awesome sense of rhythm and that he's a terrific musician... but watching him play, sometimes while wearing what looked like a too-tight pinstriped suit jacket (what drummer wears a fucking suit jacket onstage??), was akin to watching an accountant tally up a row of numbers. So maybe his lack of camera time was understandable.

Colin Greenwood, on the other hand, turned out to be more fun to watch than I expected. We really had to pay attention to catch glimpses of him, but I started noticing that the guy almost always has a smile on his face. We would spy him in the background of a shot of Thom or Jonny, bouncing around with his bass, hanging out with Phil, and I kind of fell in love with him.

(I asked Patrick if he understands how bassists do what they do. I've been really paying attention to bass lines lately, and I've heard some really incredible playing. It's mind boggling to me how they manage to hold the beat, play interesting and beautiful melodic lines, and push the music forward all at the same time. Patrick, who's probably even pickier and more critical of music than I am, said that the only bass player he's ever known who made him stop and wonder "how'd you think of that" is David O. Jones, bassist for Magnolia Thunderpussy [and many other bands, including Bikos, and I have to agree, Dave is a fine, fun, and powerful bass player, but Patrick's comment didn't really help me understand how those guys do what they do. I guess I have to start doing some reading. Or sit down and talk with some bass players; hey, that sounds more fun!)

Ed O'Brien was fun to watch, too. And I love that his Wikipedia entry notes that he's the tallest guy in Radiohead (he's 6'5" according to that source, which is pretty damn tall. Nice work, Ed.

And, we decided that Thom Yorke has stolen a lot of his shtick from Captain Beefheart. That said, it's a lovely, fine shtick, and I like it and him (and Captain Beefheart) very much.

Anyway, there's my note. I need to see you more, Stewart. Start working on that, will you?

Love you,

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