By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
Kieffer and I have been batting a phrase back and forth between us all week. I happened across it at about 2 a.m., thumbing through a book to make myself sleepy.
The light bulb came on when I saw it, and I knew Chris would think it was neat, but not neat enough to wake him in the middle of the night.
“Well, it’s better than Ezra learning to play the bassoon,” Kieffer told me Wednesday night, with a kind of smarmy grin, as I was walking out the door of the paper.
He was making a backhanded remark about something I’d written.
Anyway, the phrase is on page 93 of “A Moveable Feast,” by Ernest Hemingway.
“Better than Ezra,” as those better read than I know, refers to poet Ezra Pound and what Hemingway tells us was his dalliance with all things creative while part of the expatriate tribe in Paris.
Apparently he even dabbled in playing classical music.
Oh Ezra, you drug fiend, what are we going to do with you?
Kieffer and I connect the phrase with a band, a trio of guys who I believe went to school together at LSU and made a pretty good run at rock super stardom a few years back. They’ve had a couple of big songs on the radio, but for the most part their fan base is white guys my age who still like to think they can be mistaken for students when they find themselves, say, on the Ole Miss campus doing a story.
Better Than Ezra is pretty good. They played a free show in The Grove one night while I was in school and the lead singer, who everybody, of course, calls “Ezra,” much like “Hootie,” but is really named Kevin, got really mad because some idiot frat boy all hopped up on Shiner Bock hit him with a quarter.
I understood Ezra’s – uh, Kevin’s – anger, and I wasn’t offended by his cursing.
I’ve read “A Moveable Feast” probably three times, but somehow I never made the connection. Chris and I can’t prove it, but we’re reasonably sure the band took its name from the passage. I mean, it refers to music, right? It has to be.
Chris and I used the Google and, as we all know, the Internet doesn’t lie.
Ah, the Google, the journalist’s best friend.
“Better Than Ezra” is a good band, but I’ve never really trusted my own taste in music. I read somewhere that Gonzo journalist, Hunter Thompson, loved maudlin junk like “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John, that he’d listen to it over and over when he wrote. That makes me feel better.
Ezra has a lot of good songs, but my favorite is the one I’m sure they’re sick of playing. Leave it to me to choose the most worn-out, threadbare song in their repertoire. The song is kind of weepy and sounds like the musical equivalent of a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s so simple, musically, that the band probably feels a little guilty about making all that money off it, like “Every rose has its thorn,” by Poison – though I can’t imagine Poison feeling guilty about anything.
It’s called “This Time of Year,” and I’ve heard the band refer to it as their campfire song.
“There’s a football in the air,” it says. “Just like a Friday afternoon. Yeah you can go there if you want, though it fades too soon.”
That’s not bad poetry. Ezra would be proud, I think. Not bad at all, considering these guys went to LSU.
Contact Daily Journal religion editor Galen Holleyat (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org