Through A Note Darkly: Seeking Fame with The Stone Roses' Self-Titled

Through A Note Darkly is a weekly feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Chris Villalta searches for lessons in an album he's heard a lot about, but has never heard in full before

The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses

Personal Favorite: "I Wanna Be Adored"

Summarizing Lyric: "Don’t stop/Isn’t it funny how you shine?" ("Don't Stop")

I don’t wait, I seek. This blog is proof of that; I’m not waiting for these records to come to me, I’m seeking them out because I have some catching up to do. Proactivity, however, is a fairly recent trait of mine. Passivity was the name of the game for me until I acted upon my attraction to comedy and signed myself up for an open mic instead of waiting around for someone to push me onto a stage. Driving around L.A. and actually discovering the city for the first time after living around it for seventeen years required a lot of music. Tired of my usual mix of Arcade Fire, Avenged Sevenfold, Radiohead, and Paramore, I put on shuffle to discover what else was out there. I let music come to me, and it's when you let things come to you that magic can happen, magic like one of the first new songs I hear on a drive to Hollywood being “I Wanna Be Adored.” The slow build matched perfectly with the loosening traffic. Once the drum hit, I was off and singing along to a song I had never heard before. It's a song whose honesty allowed it to feel familiar. Never had I heard someone say it so blatantly, the very thing I thought I was supposed to be ashamed of, how badly I wanted to be adored. Three years later and I’m listening to the rest of the record, just as surprised by the album’s ability to be as honest as that first track which so perfectly scored my first few months of seeking fame.

Immediately after “I Wanna Be Adored” is “She Bangs The Drums,” a song who tells the previously adored that “The past was yours/But the future’s mine/You’re all out of time.” The confidence would be obnoxious if not for Ian Brown and his assuredly unsure delivery buried under definitively shoegaze reverb reminding us these are, for the most part, clueless boys put in the awkward position of having to be the future. On the very song they talk of the future being theirs they admit, “I don’t feel too steady on my feet/I feel hollow I feel weak.” This mixture of confidence and self-consciousness defines the record: such a confidently shy sound. At times it almost doesn’t make sense how this record works, let alone how good it is,  a fact the Stone Roses may have been aware of themselves with the lyric “Don’t stop/Isn’t it funny how you shine?”

It is funny how this record shines, but that is the only way to shine–funnily. The only way to close the curtains on old Elizabeth is to distract her audience with an odd shine like “I Wanna Be Adored” and keep them around with flange-blasted solos and catchy choruses like those on “Made of Stone” and “I Am The Resurrection.” And like some of the best shiners, once they shine the Stone Roses don’t want to anymore. The same record that started with a need for love challenged only by those who flood their three word Instagram posts with 50+ hashtags comes  near its close with lyrics “I never wanted/The love that you showed me/It started to choke me.” Adoration was wanted, but not the kind the world is willing to give, the kind that drives people to replace their face and friends with plastic. “Shoot You Down” sharing wax with “I Wanna Be Adored” begs the question: How do you be adored without losing yourself and becoming something easily adored? The Stone Roses’ answer, as heard on “I Am The Resurrection.” is “cut loose.” Don’t make plans on how to get famous; don’t come up with a formula because we “don't care where you've been or what you plan to do.” Innovation would not be possible without the “cut loose” sentiment. However, the Stone Roses did not cut completely loose. They have choruses and verses, they have crescendos, they are song crafters, they had plans. Of course, the plans are not as apparent as those seen in previous generations, but the plans are there. They have to be. Bands like the Stone Roses may have been the resurrection, but they could never bring themselves to hate the past as much as they would have liked to, enough to abandon its influence.