Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
It's rare when something from the artistic world can be intelligent, dark, funny, and touching all at the same time. The rare occasions this happens it's usually a great book or movie that accomplishes it. Well, for the last couple of weeks, I've been listening a lot to a CD which has all these characteristics. William Shatner's Has Been release.
First, let me say, NO, I'M NOT JOKING. A musical collaboration with Ben Folds, Shatner speaks over some great music with a Ken Nordine cool jazz detachment. From the opening selection, a great remake of Pulp's "Common People" featuring Joe Jackson singing the chorus to the closer "Real" written by country musician Brad Paisley, "Has Been" is unlike anything I've heard.
Some of you might have heard Shatner's golden throat "classic" remakes of songs like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", well let me say, "Has Been" is not a joke. Oh and in case you think I'm some kind of Trekkie who would love anything Captain Kirk does, I should mention I've never liked any version of Star Trek. (If I do recall, I did kind of like Wrath of Khan, but my favorite thing in it was the strangely hypnotic performance of Ricardo Montalban.) Oh and I've never seen one episode of TJ Hooker, despite the acting chops that I'm sure were displayed by one Adrian Zmed.
No, "Has Been" didn't just come out of left field, but beyond it, somewhere in the parking lot. The standout track is a song written by Folds and "High Fidelity/About a Boy's" Nick Hornsby entitled "That's Me Trying". Kind of like a darker, more realistic version of "Cat's in the Cradle", it sadly tells the tale of shallow man trying to reconnect with his adult daughter. Following this could be the most honest piece of poetry ever written by a celebrity, with Shatner speaking of his late wife's drowning. The last few lines of "What You Have Done?"
Her Body still and blue
Is this what death looks like?
My love was supposed to protect her...It didn't
My love was supposed to heal her....It didn't
You had said don't leave me
And I begged you not to leave me...We did
I'm not sure "Has Been" is for everyone, but if you do give it a chance, I think you will find something special in it.
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