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2004's Album Of The Year january 3 2005, 12:58 am
submitted by: normal mc

William Shatner
Has Been

At the tail end of the second track of William Shatner's impressive 'Has Been', he tells us:

‘At my age I need serenity, I need peace… it hasn't happened yet’.

And right there is where we realize that 'Has Been' is not a joke. It is an earnest, heartfelt look into an aging man's inner demons. You'll realize that no matter how old you get, those feelings of doubt and self-worth will continue. It's all the rock and roll attitude you expect from the kids nowadays, but the music is better... thanks to Ben Folds.

I know what some of you are thinking. Shatner? T.J. Hooker? 'The Transformed Man'? Captain Kirk? 'Kingdom of the Spiders'? Yes. It's him. And he's fantastic.

Fantastic I say!

When I first listened, I though it was my inherent Ben Folds bias. I love the man, and knowing he produced this and wrote the music, one could see how my view might have been rose-tinted. The hooks are there, the subtle lounge mastery is a thing of beauty... but it was Shatner's (dare I say it) insight and meaningful lyrics that sealed the deal. 'Has Been' is a genuinely moving, sarcastic, dry-humored look into a man who's lived a full life and still hasn't figured out what to do next.

It's referential, self-deprecating and wise. Yeah, wise. I said it. A host of guests add to the fun. There's Aimee Mann with Ben Folds on backing vocals on 'That's Me Trying', a wistful, depressed attempt at reconciling with a grown daughter. Henry Rollins, no stranger to spoken word performance, is pent-up rage personified on 'I Can't Get Behind That', with some great tongue-in-cheek humor at the end.

Shatner is a natural ham and he is in full diva mode on the hilarious ‘You’ll Have Time’ and ‘Familiar Love’. The latter sports the laugh-out-loud line of the year: a song dealing with his new flame, he waxes poetic on everything they share together, including…

‘Sliced apples, almond butter and feta cheese… let’s feed the dogs, send out for Chinese… watching movies on TV and fall asleep… our arms wrapped around, so happy… we weep’.


Of course it’s not all fun and games. ‘What Have You Done’ is solamente Bill, no music, reciting a poem about his dead wife who drowned in their pool. Ouch Bill… ouch.

The title track is all spaghetti western via Cake. Dealing with those who are more content to critique than create (such as Never Done Jack, Don’t Say Dick and Two-Thumbs Don). It’s his answer to Lindsay Lohan’s ‘Rumors’. It ends with Bill’s breathy delivery of this stanza:

‘What are you afraid of? Failure? So am I. Has been implies failure… not so. Has been is history. Has been… was. Has been… might again.’

And of course, he’s right. With the recent rave reviews of his new show ‘Boston Legal’, William Shatner has fashioned one of the more interesting second acts in American pop-culture history. And he won the coveted ‘Album Of The Year’ for calendar year 2004.

Congratulations, Captain.

comments...   add a comment...

dj tanner
dj tanner 4789 posts
comment no. 1

Not that I don't agree with your review, but wow, what a big font!

normal mc
normal mc 7472 posts
comment no. 2


He deserves the biggest font available, damn it! A tour-de-farce!

jay rock
jay rock 1362 posts
comment no. 3

You can always debate these sorts of things, but I think this album is as good a choice as any. I had the luck of getting a copy of this from Norm and I thought that I would listen to it once and then it would fade into my itunes playlist forever as a novelty item. Then something funny happened, it turns out that this is a darn good record and as our boy said a lot of that is probably Ben Folds involvement, but lyrically Shatner does have something to say (sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking). If you haven't heard it, it's definitely worth checking out.

kid dexterity
kid dexterity 1186 posts
comment no. 4

The Shatner/Rollins combo I Can't Get Behind That is definitely one of the greatest tracks I heard in 2004.

"I can't get behind so-called singers that can't carry a tune, get paid for talking, how easy is that? Well, maybe I could get behind that."

chosen rosen
chosen rosen 657 posts
comment no. 5

ben folds is definitely the man. he puts on probably the best live act i've ever seen.

also, shatner is fantastic in 'boston legal' - i highly recommend this show. it's on ABC 10pm sundays.

dj tanner
dj tanner 4789 posts
comment no. 6

We need more shows about lawyers like we need more lawyers!

chosen rosen
chosen rosen 657 posts
comment no. 7

ha! and we need more teachers like... oh wait. crap.

farlupulous 3353 posts
comment no. 8

All i think about is price

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