Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What if I Were Romeo in Black Jeans

The year 1990 was not a good one in rock music. Reading a list of music titles from that year I remember only a few. But Sunday morning, unbidden, one tune from the era popped into my head. It was the year I was on a leave of absence from Oak Ridge and we lived in Charlottesville, VA where I was doing medical research at UVA. (It is a long story but it was great to be at least a small part of an initial effort that eventually led to the formation of the medical company Stereotaxis). I worked out regularly that year, running and lifting weights.  Only one song I recall from the endless cycles of music played in the gyms.  It is No Myth by Michael Penn.  So that morning I went to You Tube and refamiliarized myself with it.  Memorable lines:

She hopes we can be friends

We said goodbye before hello

What if I were Romeo in Black Jeans 

She's just looking for someone to Dance with.  

Then surfed the net for commentary.  Here are some interesting thoughts from the web site titled Stylist.  They state that everyone has some special pieces of music in their head that strike a special chord inside of them.  The reviewer is Alfred Soto:


Penn’s whiney pipes suit lyrics whose wisdom is encapsulated in the declarative simplicity of the admission, “She hopes we can be friends” and in the useful “We said goodbye before hello.” Handling bass, all guitars, and a galloping drum program that’s the song’s most striking element, the auteur palliates his Dylan-esque sneer with a demo-style directness. That’s the best that can be said about “No Myth”—it’s a demo unsullied by additional tinkering ...

Like all the best rock songs, “No Myth” asks questions it refuses to answer; its creator’s sullenness dovetails with the song’s mystery. We know (and he knows we know) that Penn isn’t Romeo in black jeans; he’s a guy with long bangs and a rather lugubrious self-possession, brother of one of Hollywood’s more masochistically naturalistic actors, too anonymous to be the subject of any myths, be they romantic or aesthetic. The most telling moment occurs during the bridge, in which Penn slings polysyllabic rhymes like Ted Nugent doing scales. It’s lovely, plaintive; bravado replaces snark. . . 

After not hearing or thinking of this song for twenty years, I know it will be bouncing around in my head for the next several weeks.

5 comments:

Jason said...

I've always enjoyed that tune. Did you know he's married to Aimee Mann?

Steve said...

No, I didn't know that. Been quite busy the last week. When I get a chance I think I'll listen to some more of the both of them on You Tube or maybe Pandora. Like a lot of songs, this one always sounded meaningful, by its tune and style, even though I don't know what "Romeo in Black Jeans" means. And I never read that book with Heathcliff in it. "We said Goodbye before Hello" and "Looking for someone to dance with" have enough pith to make it memorable.

Jason said...

I'm not familiar with too many other Michael Penn tunes. I'll have to find some. He and Aimee Mann did a duet of the Beatles' "Two of Us" for the I Am Sam soundtrack. Aimee Mann has several strong albums. My favorite is the soundtrack for Magnolia.

John Ross said...
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John Ross said...

Funny you should mention that Michael Penn covered a Beatle's song.Before I discovered it was he who did No Myth, I guessed that perhaps it was Julian or Sean Lennon. Subtle overtones in his voice and timing are reminiscent on Lennon.

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