Song of the Day #1,139: ‘Leave Her Alone’ – Steven Page

Two years ago I did a theme week on Barenaked Ladies and, in my final post, lamented the fact that lead singer and co-writer Steven Page had left the band. Would they be able to carry on without him in anything like the fashion they had established over the first fifteen years of their existence? And what would Page accomplish on his own?

Two years later, we have our answers. Barenaked Ladies released All in Good Time, their first Page-less album, to generally good reviews, though a couple of early pans and lack of enthusiasm over the song snippets I’ve heard kept me from buying the album.

And Steven Page released a solo album, Page One, that’s better than almost anything Barenaked Ladies ever put out.

It seems Barenaked Ladies fans were split down the middle after Page left the band. Based on a cursory look at some online message boards, you’ve got two groups now: BNL fans who believe Ed Robertson was responsible for everything good the band ever did and that Page’s departure is actually a good thing; and Steven Page fans who feel like the The Beatles just lost their Lennon or The Rolling Stones just lost their Jagger.

I fall somewhere in between. I certainly appreciate most of Ed Robertson’s contributions to Barenaked Ladies (though I can’t say the same for the other band members) but Steven Page has always been the main draw for me.

And based on Page One, his is the career I’ll be following closely from here on out.

This album has the wit and adventurous musicality that was a hallmark of Barenaked Ladies’ best work. Page uses his full toolkit here, layering strings and horns on several tracks with achingly beautiful results. His melodies are delicious and unexpected, his vocals thick with equal parts sincerity and irony.

Some of these songs — ‘Over Joy,’ ‘All the Young Monogamists,’ ‘Clifton Springs’ and ‘Leave Her Alone,’ to name a few — are as good, right out of the gate, as anything he recorded with BNL. I don’t want to suggest the band was holding him back — he crafted some of the best pop of the last decade alongside those guys — but this album explodes with creativity and inspiration.

I caught up with Page One late, but it would have settled right near the top of my list of the best 2010 albums. Better late than never. And you can bet I won’t miss whatever Page does next.

We thought that you knew
When two become one just for fun
They rehearse ’til the worst of each person
Becomes someone new;
And that’s you.
You’re bent out of shape
I know that you’re down on this town,
But understand where you land often can
Turn into what you’ve escaped
Ain’t it great?

Leave her alone, she’s doing just fine
At least she’s at home, at least she’s alive
Our baby has grown; leave her alone

From Hell to Hell
You went to Paris, but Paris was shitty
And subsequent cities were shitty as well
Do tell!
Where do you go?
No job in your field; fate is sealed
Drag your luggage upstairs,
push wheelchairs
Through craft fairs and car shows
Yes it blows.

Leave her alone, she’s doing just fine
At least she’s at home, at least she’s alive
She’ll learn how to drive, she’ll get off the couch
And maybe in time she’ll open her mouth
She’ll look in our eyes and let us inside
Leave her alone

When I was at sea
I crossed the equator and later
Rephrasing the hazing amazed at how cruel men could be,
I saw they were no different from me

An oasis of boredom in a desert of pain
All the places you once dreamed of; only dreams remain.
She’s never going to leave again…

Leave her alone, she’s doing just fine
She’s living at home and losing her mind
She’s learning to drive, she’s riding the couch
And from time to time, she’ll open her mouth
And once in a while she’ll look in our eyes and let us inside
And murmur the words:
What more do you need?
I concede my defeat
I went out in the world it was a mistake
I came home to stay.
I’d rather be safe the rest of my days with people I hate.

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,139: ‘Leave Her Alone’ – Steven Page

  1. Dana says:

    Based on what I have heard from BNL both before and after Page left, I am solidly in the Page camp. In fact, the stuff that has come on the radio from BNL sans Page sounds like very bland pop to me. It doesn’t even sound like BNL. I’m sure there were plenty of Robertson influenced songs on older BNL albums, many of which you might like, but I suspect I would not like them as much, at least not if they sound anything like the post-Page output.

    This song, on the other hand, I like quite a lot, and if it is representative of the rest of the album as you suggest, I bet I would enjoy listening to this one.

  2. Clay says:

    While I’m definitely on Team Page, I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss Ed Robertson’s contributions to the band. The hit ‘One Week’ was his, for example, as was the lovely ‘Light Up My Room‘ from the same album, along with a number of similarly interesting, effective songs.

  3. pegclifton says:

    I Love this song; don’t know anything about the singer or the group; but this is a GREAT song.

  4. Dana says:

    I love “One Week” to be sure, and like “Light Up My Room” well enough, but the new stuff I have heard from BNL seemed wholly unimpressive. I can’t help but think that perhaps Page gave some contribution to “One Week” just as Lennon could make McCartney’s song’s more interesting and, frankly, better.

  5. Clay says:

    Yeah, I don’t doubt that. And I haven’t heard anything from the new BNL record. Page’s solo album is as good as anything the band did, so that’s pretty good evidence that he was the strongest member.

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