Adam Schlesinger 1967 - 2020— Craig Lowe -
To call Adam Schlesinger a pop genius is an understatement, and that he didn’t become one of the biggest stars in the world is a travesty of justice that I hope can be made right now after his unexpected (and sudden) demise to the beast called Covid-19.
I first came across Adam’s music back in 1996 when Tom Hanks wrote and directed a little film called ‘That Thing You Do’, a love letter to sixties pop music and the bands that made up that time (if you haven’t seen it or its been a minute since you did, check it out, it holds up). Given the seemingly impossible task of writing the titular song for the film, which would be heard over and over throughout the run time of the movie, he succeeded in delivering a song that would not only have been a smash hit back 1964, but proved managed to chart around the world upon it release, and if not for that song, the film surely would have been forgotten long ago.
At Christmas, a year later, when browsing through Andy’s Records in Bolton town centre, I was introduced to the band he would be know for. ‘I Want an Alien For Christmas’ by Fountains Of Wayne was a modest hit in the UK, managing to scrape in at number 36, but I was hooked and they had an instant fan in me. Its the sort of Christmas song they just don’t write anymore, it was catchy, it was silly, but most of all it was fun, it is never out of my yearly playlist.
Fountains Of Wayne finally got their dues a few year later, in 2003, thanks to the song they are best known for around the world. ‘Stacy’s Mom’ is the perfect example of Adam and the band at the top of their game. Quite possibly one of the catchiest pop songs ever written, the song is 3 minutes and 19 seconds of pure joy, and the world lapped it up. But power pop has never been cool, and they weren’t able to get that second follow up hit, but that didn’t stop them trying, dammit! ‘Welcome Interstate Managers’, the album Stacy’s Mom is from, is just one of those albums that grabs hold and doesn’t let go; not a single song on that album could be considered less than superb. It was followed by 2 more albums, ‘Traffic and Weather’ and ‘Sky Full Of Holes’, the later containing one of my favourite songs of all time, ‘A Dip In The Ocean’. Alas, after the release of ‘Sky Full Of Holes’ the band decided to call it a day and the world was worse for it.
Adam would continue to write songs for film such as ‘Music and Lyrics’ and write songs for the likes as The Monkees and Bowling For Soup.
My last encounter with his music, and the best example of his song writing ability, was on the criminally underrated musical comedy show, ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ where he co wrote all the songs on the show. Thats a 2 – 4 songs per episode for a total of 62 episodes, encompassing every genre of music! From broadway to hip hop, from love song to hard rock, the range of musical talent on display was breathtaking, it also helped the show was excellent.
At the age of 52, Adam Schlesinger has left this world way too soon, but at the same time, left a legacy that will endure for years to come, so crank up the volume and dance your lockdown away to some of the greatest pop songs of the last 60 years.