A month ago before (gestures at everything) all of this, John Mulaney hosted Saturday Night Live and started his monologue saying, “If you’re watching at home and don’t know who I am, I’m sorry. I am like Louis Farrakhan. I mean a lot to a small group of people.”
Meaning a lot to a small group of people surely also applies to Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of Fountains of Wayne and all-around savant songwriter, who died yesterday and who definitely meant a lot to me.
And I try your number, but you’re just not there
Fountains of Wayne only hit the Billboard Hot 100 one time in 2003 with “Stacy’s Mom,” a song that slithers all over the line between joke track and certified banger better than any song ever has or ever will. Of course Fountains of Wayne was more than that one hit, as others have catalogued.
Schlesinger himself was a witty pop music wizard. He was only 52. How many more gifts that he had left to give have been taken from us?
Or maybe you received literally any mix CD from me anytime between, I dunno, 2000 to 2007, a period where friends will attest that I shoved Fountains of Wayne down their gullets at every possible opportunity.
Like the best of hammers, they were the solution to every problem! What does this mix need right now? A solid I’ll do anything for you even if it’s a lot stupid stomper? “Red Dragon Tattoo”:
A campfire sing-along that really made you wish you were dating someone named Julie? Hey there, “Hey Julie”:
Something with a flair for the epic? “All Kinds of Time”:
Some goddamned lasers? Goddamn “Laser Show” it is:
Something for the recently, shockingly dumped? “Hat and Feet”:
A little pining for the past? “Hackensack” coming in hot:
And the sun keeps shining ’til it’s dead and gone
A young woman I dated around that time broke up with me and, in my hyperbolic but also definitely 100% accurate retelling, immediately started dating an outlaw biker.
To be clear: if your flavor is “outlaw biker,” I am not your flavor. Different strokes and all that. (Outlaw bikers would never say “different strokes”.)
After several years of absolutely no contact she posted once on my Facebook wall something like “My iPod shuffle just gave me Fountains Of Wayne ‘Leave the Biker,’ and I thought of you”.
(That’s one more person thinking about Fountains of Wayne sometimes! That’s all I ever want!)
And it must be summer, ’cause I can’t go on
A few months ago I was in what I can self-diagnose as a depressive funk. In the midst of that, I finally, finally saw Drive-By Truckers—another favorite band—in concert and I don’t recall enjoying it one bit. Not because the show was bad but because I wasn’t enjoying much of anything at all.
A few weeks later I was feeling a little better and out for a jog and my dusty time capsule of a running playlist served up “Radiation Vibe.”
It’s a perfect song. Fountains of Wayne famously played it at every concert because even the band that performed it constantly never got sick of it; that’s how perfect it is.
Anyway, I thought to myself, “I somehow haven’t seen Fountains of Wayne in concert. I should fix that. I might actually enjoy it now.”
It’s early yet in all of this. Adam Schlesinger will not be the last person who dies.
He will not be the only person who meant a lot to a small group of people.
But right now, for me, this one stings.
Update: A friend shared this NPR Tiny Desk Concert from 2011 that I had somehow missed. It includes “Troubled Times,” a song we all need right now.
Who I Am (short version)
I’m a web developer for Validic, and I live in Carrboro, NC, USA.