Rise and grind people! We’ve got Evan Dando business at hand.
Evan frickin’ Dando.
Dando, Dando, Dando.
The enigmatic poster boy of Gen-X slack.
The guy that just couldn’t bring himself to even try… and then proceeded to slouch his way into pure pop greatness.
Zero ambition. Legendarily so.
As the varsity captain of the 90’s heartthrob squad, Dando’s gorgeous mug catapulted him and his band to major label success. People went bonkers for the guy.
As was the case for many a 90’s icon, things got weird mid-decade and unraveled spectacularly.
His pop culture standing sadly distracted most from what should have been even more obvious than his sex appeal–Dando was (and still is) a songwriting genius.
It’s so very Dando to be literally not trying, while simultaneously becoming the center of major rock and roll mythology.
Did Dando and Julianna Hatfield secretly marry and have babies? If not, why the fuck not?
Did he actually morph into Gram Parsons at some point around say 1994?
Is it true that he missed his set time at Glastonbury due to a lengthy threesome with a couple of British models?
(That one had to be true, right?!)
Speed binges and Kate Moss rumors aside, I’m thrilled to report that one can still aggressively lean into all three Lemonheads albums released on Atlantic Records.
Banger after banger after banger.
There are very few songwriters who can break your heart the way Evan Dando can. His dedication to 60’s jangle pop, fused with his unabashed self-awareness, essentially creates the soundtrack for smiling into the abyss.
Lemonheads songs get dark, but never sound that way.
Never one to shy away from substance use, Dando somehow succeeded in consistently interjecting his copious drug taking into his songs while neither glamorizing nor pathologizing it.
He’s never making a point about any of it. That would be trying too damn hard.
With perceived limited effort, Evan Dando is also the 90’s king of the cover song. Obviously the whole “Mrs. Robinson” thing was a bit of a poisoned chalice. He allegedly hates that track to this day. Fair enough, but you and I both know you were rocking out to that song just yesterday.
That said, his guileless approach to covers allowed him to effectively inhabit other people’s work in a way that calls into question the preposterous notion that someone else actually wrote the tune he’s playing. It’s uncanny…and there’s a ton of covers on Lemonheads records. Tons.
It’s a Shame About Ray is flat out perfect. It’s a concise, direct, often sad record that maintains its mythos year after year. Speaking for myself, my life would be measurably less awesome without this album. It’s been a really good friend for a long, long time.
Thus far in cultivating the 10-song playlists that accompany every Best of the Rest volume, this was BY FAR the most difficult one to build. Choosing just 10 songs was a grueling task that I still have barely recovered from.
The Lemonheads only had a couple bonafide hits in the US (a few more in the UK), so that left most of Dando’s catalogue open as fair game. Yes, there’s possibly a few too many cuts from Ray on this list.
Oh fucking well.
Dando himself has expressed absolutely no shame about anything, so I’ll take a cue from him and just politely ask you to hit play on this playlist immediately so your day can exponentially improve.