I must have listened to It’s A Shame About Ray a thousand times in the last 30 years. It’s a core text in my record collection. It’s been owned on several formats. The cassette came first. Then the CD, Finally the vinyl. Seeing as I’m revisiting some of the bands who got posted really early on. Well, another bite of The Lemonheads (with a track off their watershed 1990’s conquering crowned king of slacker rock record) seems a whole lot more appropriate than trying to be some edge lord bringing you the newest sounds from way out in the future.
“I just want a bit part in your life! I! Just! Want! A! Bit Part! In! Your! Life!”
That intense screaming opening followed by a mid tempo number with repetitive call and response lyrics is all youth and passion. The object of one’s affection tempered by a DGAF attitude and some barely bothered rhyming couplets.
“I want a bit part in your life, Rehearsing all the time. I just want a bit part in your life, (A bit part in your life)”
It seemed to be amazing how many young boys and girls this lyric resonated with at the time. They wanted some not all of someones attention. Is that this too cool to care thing in action? Did they really want more than a bit part but felt this made then seem more chill? It seemed Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield had recorded the anthem of slackers friend zoning themselves. A theme for a generation of indie kids who couldn’t go the whole hog and say what they really felt.
“Little more than a cameo Nothing traumatic when I go”
Of course it’s not like that on the rest of the album. It’s clear how Evan felt about Allison (she was Starting to Happen), Frank Mills (he missed him), Hannah & Gabi (actually I’m not clear about those two either) and of course Ray. I’ll never forget (but only vaguely recall) my school buddy Fizz (see other posts for more on the six string slinging afro-wearing fearless skater and leaper off of roofs) getting his heart trampled by a girl called Rachael one time (just teenage stuff nothing world shattering). We went round to see him and found him mid duvet day listening to Evan Dando sing a song with an approximation of his now Ex-Girlfriends name on repeat. It was a shame. They seemed to have a lot of fun together. During the “on your feet soldier” conversation that followed Bit Part worked it’s way forward as the track more fitting for the mood.
“Little more than a stand-in, I won’t need reprimandin'”
Then we went down the Market and got him pissed.