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Almost Famous: Steven Page and the Barenaked Ladies

February 25, 2009

Word has just come to me that Steven Page and the Barenaked Ladies have parted ways. Not really a surprise, considering his recent legal troubles in the US (drugs + goofy family-friendly-pop = problems). And, at the same time, fellow Canadian JD Fortune has left INXS, which has nothing to do with anything, because neither JD Fortune nor INXS matters.

But Barenaked Ladies minus Steven Page is not Barenaked Ladies.

Let’s look back at my personal history with the Barenaked Ladies:

  • 1989 They played the cafeteria at my college. I was busy getting spaghetti. The thing was, I always knew that if I wore my favourite white shirt, it would be random-dollar-spaghetti day at the cafeteria. It was some weird meatball kharma. That shirt had a lot of little orange freckles on it.
  • 1991 Barenaked Ladies’ demo cassette landed in my lap as freelance rock writer for the local daily. I listened to it. It was a comedy album. I went and got spaghetti.
  • 1992 Gordon, their debut actual album, came out. I wore it out on my K-Car tape deck. A brilliant record, less comedy, more tunes, no electric guitars.
  • 1994 Maybe You Should Drive came out. It licked biscuit, and people stopped caring so much.
  • 1995 I spent a day with The Look People, an incredible Toronto band. Leader Jaymz Bee told me his new keys man, Kevin Hearn, was one to watch.
  • 1996 Born On A Pirate Ship released. The title is cleverer than you think, especially if you’re 12. I interviewed and photographed the band at a local radio station. Later that night, after the show, I hauled Steven Page over to our table at a local nightclub and we drank dollar drafts for a while until my friend Jeff told him ‘You know, people always tell me I look like you,’ at which point Steven Page went and found babes. A while later, drummer Tyler Stewart and I were talking when a skanky girl hanging all over him gave me the finger, so I left. I wonder how that turned out.
  • 1997 Keyboardist Andy Creeggan quit, Look Person Kevin Hearn joined, and proved Jaymz Bee right.
  • 1998 Stunt became a massive US album, and the Ladies were suddenly famous after being written off in Canada. Funny how that works.
  • 2000 I was  sitting at an airport bar in Toronto, waiting as my son flew to see his mother in Alberta for the first time (I couldn’t leave the airport until his plane took off). Jim Creeggan parked his backpacking ass on a stool beside me. I said nothing. He replied.
  • 2001 A guy who saw me drinking with Steven Page in 1996 bought me a beer in a bar and said Barenaked Ladies rule. I agreed, even though it was Budweiser, and, technically, they don’t.
  • 2001-2008 Some other Barenaked Ladies things happened, including Ed Robertson’s TV show, Ed’s Up, and his 2008 plane crash. His little plane fell down. Nobody was hurt. I was thinking about other things.
  • 2008 Steven Page was arrested for cocaine possession in New York state, one of the stupidest crime of all time. He met a girl on MySpace, and left his car running with his door open, exposing drugs, or something, I don’t know … he dissed my friend Jeff, and that’s the end of that. Jeff really does look just like Steven Page. Well, Jeff has a job.
  • 2008 Barenaked Ladies released a children’s CD called Snacktime. Every person on the planet agrees their timing was poor, and choice of title … poorer.
  • 2009 Steven Page left  Barenaked Ladies, for reasons previously agreed upon.
  • 2012 Someone will say “Remember the Barenaked Ladies?”

So. That’s the end. I predict the band will call it a day soon, because despite all the individual members’ talent, it was Page’s voice and presence that drove the group. Each remaining member has the ability to carve a new path; it just won’t be BNL. Steve, I hope you find balance, and I wish you well.

Oh, I always liked the title of that first album.

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One comment

  1. You have a much different relationship with BNL than I do.



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