Thank you, Evan Dando

2011 October 29

I’m not normally one to hold pop culture icons on a pedestal but, the truth is, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Evan Dando.

As a teenager, The Lemonheads were my gateway drug to becoming a music junkie. Without Evan Dando, I might have had ended up with a decent selection of albums on my iPod, but I certainly wouldn’t be the kind of music enthusiast that could have a 30-minute discussion with a buyer at Amoeba Music, and leave the store earning a hearty handshake, an employee discount off my purchase.

More than just being an overall favorite in my iTunes library, the Lemonheads–more than any other group—turned me on to an army of new musical options: Who was this Big Star? Oh! Alex Chilton! THAT’S who the replacements were singing about! This guy is awesome! Oh my gosh, Victoria Williams? I need to listen to everything she’s ever wrote. What’s the band her husband’s in? The Jayhawks? Holy cow, this band is fantastic. Who is this Gram Parsons? This stuff is amazing. Who is this woman singing along with Gram? Emmylou Harris? Who is are all of these people Emmylou Harris is covering? Lucinda Williams. Gillian Welch. Whoa? I must own everything ever written by Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch. Why does this CD sound so good? Oh, it was produced by Daniel Lanois! What else has Daniel Lanois produced? Wait a minute—who is this Fugazi he’s touring with?

Knowing my rabid fandom, Ryan surprised me on Thursday night by taking me to see the Lemonheads perform “It’s a Shame About Ray” in its entirety at the El Rey. It was an awesome show, and we were in spitting distance of Dando. If his guitar string broke, it would have hit me in the eye. I sang every word, to every song he played–and I sang them loud, in unison with just about every other person in the venue. Just a few hundred of us die-hards, there for nothing but the love of the music and a little bit of nostalgia.

We were tempted to stick around so I could gush to Dando about all the ways we were meant to be best friends. Then I could invite him over for a few beers and we could laugh about growing up in Boston, and about summers hanging out on beaches of the North Shore. I could tell him how one of my middle school boyfriends had the same dentist as him, and then Evan could tell me how he loved that particular dentist’s nitrous oxide.

I’ve played the scenario in my head a hundred times but, alas, it was an opportunity missed at the hands of security guards and lack of backstage passes. Meh. At least I have some photos.

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