That’s a photo of the Dean and Britta set list for Saturday night’s show in Chicago. My cousin got to see them as they revisited Galaxie 500’s material for their latest tour.
Like Jim DeRogatis mentioned in his blog, I had a little trepidation when I heard that Wareham decided to return to the Galaxie 500 catalog, but without Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang being present for the unveiling. I’m sure he has his reasons for not considering a complete reunion, but none of those possible reasons seemed to be as legitimate as what Damon or Naomi might have considering how Galaxie 500’s breakup went down.
To consider Wareham’s own explanation of the event, he was tired of being in a band with the couple. Their relationship created an unspoken alliance, a scenario where – as a functioning democracy – the rhythm section could filibuster any idea posed by the primary creative force.
That influence didn’t set well with Wareham, and it soon became an environment where any amount of criticism was perceived as a conspiracy of control.
“I had a hundred reasons, ranging from petty annoyances to major structural problems in the band,” Wareham noted in his autobiography, Black Postcards. “The bottom line is I quit because I couldn’t stop thinking about quitting.”
It wasn’t until the eve of a Japanese tour when Damon called Dean to make sure he had purchased his tickets when he finally had to admit to his drummer that he hadn’t bought his tickets because he wasn’t going.
In fact, he wasn’t going anywhere with the band ever again.
The years since that breakup have smoothed over the resentment to some degree, and Damon and Naomi have continued on with their work, demonstrating that the idea where Wareham should somehow be responsible for their well-being is no longer a valid issue.
What is a valid issue is how Damon Krukowski bought back all of the Galaxie 500 master tapes during Rough Trade’s bankruptcy, thereby ensuring that Galaxie 500 albums remained in print for all of the years after the band’s breakup.
Doesn’t that deserve some acknowledgement when Wareham decides to bring back the catalog instead of a quick grab for a few more bucks than they’d normally receive on a typical Dean and Britta tour?
Because you know that a traditional Dean and Britta show would not have created enough fervor for two nights of capacity shows like those over the weekend did.
Don’t think for a moment that I wouldn’t be a part of those fans who – if my family schedule would have allowed – shelled out money for a trip down memory lane for a night.
That’s my original pressing of “Tugboat” in that picture, the single that was released prior to them even getting signed to Rough Trade. If given the chance to see that song performed live in any Dean Wareham configuration, it would be hard to resist.
But to see it being performed by the original lineup would be impossible to resist.
Galaxie 500 is one of my favorite bands from the ’80s, and their catalog has found a place in my own life, deep enough for me care about their integrity and placement – even when their primary creator has the ultimate say.
Wareham certainly has that, and his own life provides ample evidence to suggest that control is an important part of his career. It must kill him to recognize that as soon as his art is delivered to the public, he has no way to actually control how it is interpreted.
And my interpretation of “Tugboat,” “Strange,” or any other Galaxie 500 song resonates deeper with the original members than with the lineup that Wareham used for this tour.
By all accounts, the performance(s) were great, with Luna guitarist Sean Eden still in Wareham’s good graces enough to join the band for a few Luna songs. I was told that Britta Phillips did a great job with the cover of “Listen The Snow Is Falling,” but I couldn’t help remembering that some of the original cover’s appeal was Naomi Yang’s tentative delivery.
It got me thinking how surely enough time had passed since Galaxie 500’s breakup that the members could be civil enough to each other to rekindle a bit of the same magic from happier times.
But let’s face it: It was easier for Wareham to bring out his wife and the rest of the musicians for this tour to play Galaxie 500 songs than to try and rebuild his relationship with Damon and Naomi in order to do the same thing.
And for me to think that Wareham would consider the emotional impact that a real Galaxie 500 reunion would have on fans in 2010 is completely naïve.
After all, he sure didn’t consider it when he broke up the band almost twenty years ago.