I've been a Barenaked Ladies fan for a very long time. I saw them at the Waterloo Buskers Festival in 1989 or 1990. I have The Yellow Tape from 1991; I hunted it down in the local indie record store asking every week until they were totally sick of me. I went to the alternate show they scheduled when they were removed from the Toronto New Year's show at city hall.
I've seen them perform live 61 times. I've seen them play for 40 people in front of a record store, and I've seen them perform for 20,000 at the Philips Arena. Once, by complete accident, I saw them 6 times on tour (I was traveling a lot in 2000, and without intending to, every time I was going somewhere...BNL was going to be there, too. With Guster, who I first saw on the street when they were Gus, in Harvard Square (right behind the Coop). That was the 'Bands Stephanie First Saw Busking' tour, as far as I was concerned)).
And I'm done. 10 minutes ago I just unsubscribed from the mailing list. the Sleepingcat address has been subscribed to their email list since 1997, and I'm just finished.
I've spent the last year giving them a chance. They seemed thin, when I downloaded the free concert album of a performance after Steve left, but hey, maybe they needed some time. You don't just give up. I gave them some time. Heard more performances. It never got better (and btw, I like the Creegan Brothers cd and Kevin Hearn's stuff; I used to go see him at a pub a block away from where I lived in Parkdale every couple weeks).
The lyrics to the latest bnl song are a big 'fuck you, steve' bonanza. (link).
Now, I've met everyone in the band a couple times, and Steve's always been a bit of a bastard to me. But....
when he sings, when he really lets go from his heart and gut, he wrenches me so badly that sometimes I can't breathe, what he's expressing is so painfully close to my soul. Hell, lots of people consider me a bastard, too. I'm totally fine with him being a bastard when he gives a voice to my pain in his songs.
Sadly for BNL, while they're all very talented musicians, Steve was actually the genius of the group, that freaked out anguished hiding behind the humour type that gave the band *depth*, and in sharing his brokenness made the band whole. This song....well, really proved it. It's a spiteful, emo, pretending to be heartfelt piece with lyrics so simple 3 lines through I started finishing every line for them while they were making BIG DRAMATIC PAUSES. (link).
22 years is a good run. It's longer, really, than I've loved anything else in this life (including my family; I didn't learn to really love them until my late 20s). I just sort of wish that we had just drifted apart, instead of me getting to the end of the new video and going, 'What a steaming pile of crap. How much longer am I waiting?'
I hope Steve's recovery continues and we hear something lovely and heartwrenching from him someday.