In light over my guest blogger Amy, the mood has called for a comedy album review. William Shatner’s 2004 release Has Been is one that while not strictly a humour album is difficult to listen to without a smile. While certainly not featuring any stand up comedy, the music that fills this album is full of superbly crafted wit and irony.
With the help of producer and co-writer Ben Folds, Has Been is an album of almost undefinable proportion. The eleven songs that feature in this album cross multiple genres, from country to rock, to pop to poetry. The use of Shatner’s iconic singing/acting style bring home the meaning behind the lyrics, with moments and core lyrical elements of the song often being brought to attention.
Has Been however is not without its serious side. Fiction, nonfiction and deeply personal songs feature heavily on the album. ‘What Have You Done,’ a 1.46 minute song that details Shatner’s experience at finding his third wife’s body is a particularly haunting one. The softly spoken soliloquy captures the pain and anguish ever so beautifully.
Tracks such as ‘It Hasn’t Happened Yet’ and ‘That’s Me Trying’ explore aging, perceived happiness and regrettable family relationships. Themes such as these flesh out the album and make it feel almost like a poetry reading. A number of songs, such as the romantic ‘Familiar Love’ and funny ‘Ideal Woman’ coupled with Shatner’s iconic style are what really make the album difficult to define. The emotion and wide-ranging topics behind the lyrics provide this album with a refreshing depth. At first glance this album may seem like an indulgence by Shatner, especially with his talk singing style, but once the album has finished so much has been laid bare that it’s hard not to respect the man.
Despite all the sadness and pain, for me, Has Been is still a humourous album. One that manages to draw in and include the listener. This involvement and happiness that can be taken from listening, is one that has seen me return many a time. Has Been elicits the feeling of a shared joke, a shared pain, and a shared existence. This offbeat album is one that is not only a pleasure to experience, but one that should open your eyes to the versatility and sheer awesomeness that is William Shatner.