I have a very hard time picking favorites. If you ask me to list my top five favorite movies of all time, I won’t be able to do it, even though I consider myself an avid movie fan. At best, I’ll be able to get somewhere within the vicinity of the ballpark, but all I’ll really be doing is rambling off any film that might hit among the top 10 I’ve seen (or more realistically the top 25). I just can’t get more precise than that—partially because I take these types of lists too seriously, and partially because I jut can’t decide what I enjoy the most when it comes to the things I love.
That being said, it means a lot that I can tell you with certainty which musical artists would rank in my top two favorites of all time. I can’t say which one wins out, and as soon as you ask me who’s my third favorite, I’m once again at a loss. But the top two have been locked for some time now. So who are they? Led Zeppelin and Barenaked Ladies. Not exactly an obvious pairing, but they do both have prominent members with the surname Page. Or I guess had. And that’s why I’m writing this post. Because I found out this morning that Steven Page, co-founder and one of the lead singers and songwriters of Barenaked Ladies, has quit the group after more than 20 years.
This announcement won’t mean much to a lot of people, but it was genuinely sad for me. Truly depressing and, yes, heartbreaking. BNL is a fantastic band, both on record and on stage. Their live shows, of which I’ve be privileged to see four, were always highly entertaining. But a large part of their on-stage dynamic came from the interaction between Page and the other foremost member of the band, Ed Robertson. Their chemistry together was amazing. When they rocked, they rocked, but you could always count on being equally entertained by the non-musical side of BNL’s live shows, thanks primarily to the hilarious, unscripted banter that always took place between the two leads. I’m sad that Melanie and I broke tradition and missed them the last time they were on tour. Edison was still a newborn at the time, and we were fairly new to Atlanta and wouldn’t have had any ideas for a babysitter anyway. But it’s a bummer to realize that that was the last chance we had to see BNL as we had known and loved them. Barenaked Ladies hold a special place in my musical heart, but they have also played prominently in Melanie and my courtship and subsequent marriage. Even Little Eddie was put to sleep with BNL for several months during his first year of life. Needless to say, I am quite endeared to this band.
Fortunately, the remaining members of Barenaked Ladies are incredibly talented and I will not hesitate to buy the next album they produce, which they will begin recording in April. The nice thing about a group like BNL is that all of the members of the band are multi-talented, can play various instruments, and thus have all written and sung songs on previous CDs (with the exception of the drummer, though he has been given co-writing credits before). Their quality will not falter. I do not worry about that. But Page’s absence on their next recording will be conspicuous to me, and as such, the album will strike me as essentially incomplete. It is a time of mourning for those who love BNL as much as I do. We are all too aware that a Page is now missing from our books.