"Those bastards are making a killing on my song. Chriiist."
January 7, 2019 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Wow. Great writing. Sad story.
posted by Phreesh at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2019

It's terrifying how quickly alcohol can destroy a human being. Was he even 30?
posted by thelonius at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

He was 32 according to Wikipedia.
posted by Calzephyr at 3:05 PM on January 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Good piece. From Wikipedia: “With the other members hesitant to fire Hopkins, A&M forcefully removed him from the band and withheld $15,000 owed to Hopkins until he agreed to sign over half of his publishing royalties and relinquish his mechanical royalties. Hopkins reluctantly agreed to these demands because of his dire financial situation.”

How is that even vaguely allowed. Christ.
posted by Hartster at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2019 [22 favorites]

I was sort of obsessed with New Miserable Experience back when it came out - something about the tension between the dark lyrics of the Hopkins songs and the chirpy vocals and smooth production was compelling. Despite its flaws, it's a cut above most early-to-mid-90's power pop.

I first read this piece years ago, but thought of it again today, almost a month after my closest friend died of alcoholism.
posted by JeffL at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

Always such a sad story. One of my earliest happy-music-memories was singing songs off that album on a campground swingset, proud of myself for being able to remember whole songs and also for learning how to kick pump on a swing. They were just deeply enjoyable pop songs.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm sorry for your loss, JeffL: I lost a close friend to suicide, assisted by a relapse on alcohol, in 2017. It's a hard thing to live with.
posted by thelonius at 3:35 PM on January 7, 2019

Found Out About You is fairly squick, though, basically a guy slut-shaming and stalking a girl because she dumped him.
posted by signal at 4:13 PM on January 7, 2019

I remember reading this guy's story in the liner notes of some cheapo best-of-the-Gin-Blossoms CD I bought on impulse at Border's. I'd always wondered why the Gin Blossoms completely fell off the map after having what seemed like an endless string of hits; finding out why was a real punch in the gut.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is there a word for "putting off reading or watching or listening to something because you know it's going to make you feel a lot of feelings?"

GB are legit one of my favorite bands and this is such a sad story - one I basically know but I'm a little afraid of finding out more miserable details.

whitewash everything in sight!
posted by capnsue at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

How is that even vaguely allowed. Christ.

From what I have heard, I don't blame the band at all for firing him, or going along with the label if it was the label that made the move, but the maneuver with extorting his publishing rights out of him is a different thing. Those guys never would have gotten out of the bar scene without those songs. He earned those rights, and that is just theft.

I don't want to drag on the guy too much, because it sounds like he was really unwell. But. It sounds like he died before he was able to develop the insight required to accept that he was the cause of his problems, and that is very sad. The idea that being in a band redeems any amount of terrible behavior gets old fast; it sounds like every romantic partner he had found that out quickly, and then the actual band reached their limit too. Record labels aren't much into taking shit off of minor artists they have just signed, and, when the man couldn't sober up enough to track his parts in the studio........they just don't really care that you wrote two or three good songs, at that point, you're done.
posted by thelonius at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

There's no swimming in the bottle it's just someplace we all drown

that's mrs rita, my favorite song of his - he was a great and painful songwriter who would have been one of the main voices of the 90s if drink and the industry hadn't screwed him up

maybe he was too dysfunctional to stay in the band - but the gin blossoms wouldn't have done shit without him and they owed him a bit more loyalty than they'd shown - enough to make sure he wasn't screwed out of his money
posted by pyramid termite at 6:27 PM on January 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

back when i worked in a record store in the mid-90s, i always went to bat for the gin blossoms against my hipper-than-thou friends on the strength of doug's songwriting

robin looks like a swarmy dick tho
posted by entropicamericana at 6:28 PM on January 7, 2019

Jesse Valenzuela wrote “Mrs Rita”.
posted by padraigin at 6:31 PM on January 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Interesting how these things come up.

Just watched a profile of the author Brian Smith last night on an episode of Arizona Illustrated (which is a great show that's always interesting even if it doesn't look like it). He was an AZ rock star in the 80's and lived though it to become a really good writer, first in Detroit and now back in Tucson. He's got a new book coming out based on his "Tucson Salvage" column in the Tucson Weekly.

This article kind of gave me chills because it's the story of a lot of the AZ music scene of the late 80's and early 90's. A lot of people didn't live through it. The Gin Blossoms were interesting because they sort of took the stereotypical AZ Jangle Rock sound of the time and made it big and accessible.
posted by bongo_x at 11:51 PM on January 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

The tragedy of the sensitive and clever frat boy, succumbed to brooding alcoholism. See also: Counting Crows.

This was a really well written piece and I really enjoyed it. The trope of the chemically dependent rock star seeking liberation from the soul killing corporate middle class scene is compelling. The angst is real, but drugs are are a risky bet and Budweiser and Bacardi are a profoundly boring and ineffective path to salvation and that’s the saddest part of this story and his choice of chemical with which he chose to cope is disappointing but a predictable outcome of a profoundly dysfunctional youth culture in America.

You had talent Doug and I wish it hadn’t been totally squashed by literally everything that’s fucked up in America. I wish you had some way to resist all of it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:09 AM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Alcoholism is a bitch. It'll kill you, and so will the withdrawals. But it'll destroy everything you have first. The opioid crisis is also fucking terrible, but alcoholism shouldn't be underestimated.

I lived in Tempe in the Naughties. Missed the heyday of the pop scene. Was around for the meth scene at the drum circle on Mill Ave. But for the grace of God...
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:13 AM on January 8, 2019

Well that's a sad story.

When I was ten and heard the Gin Blossoms coming from my brother's stereo, it was - heh - the hardest rock I'd ever heard. Hey Jealousy, natch - great way to start an album, still.

It's funny now to put on "Found Out About You" and realize the extent to which they were aping REM on that track.
posted by entropone at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2019

So this is why the Gin Blossoms never came out with any more songs I liked as much as "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You" or "Lost Horizons." "Lost Horizons" was by far my favorite and the biggest shock in the article for me was seeing the quoted line from that song and learning that I've been mishearing it for 25 years. It's not actually "Drunk drunk drunk in the gardens in the rain." I will keep on picturing rain-wet gardens whenever I hear that song. (I always assumed it was a nod to Van Morrison and the "gardens all wet with rain" in "Sweet Thing.")
posted by Redstart at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2019

Oh shit this was a roller coaster.

I was sixteen and sharing a car, and a weekend job, with my older sister when "Hey Jealousy" was big. One of our overly-peppy co-workers LOVED it and we mocked her relentlessly for it even though we both knew every word and turned it up whenever it was on. I had a typically difficult teenage-years relationship with my sister but it was something that we bonded over.

The two of us took a similar path into adulthood/college/starting a career/having kids/buying a house, and then she slipped into alcoholism. Or maybe she always was there and it finally just got big enough that it washed out all of the façade. She got worse and worse and worse but we always counted on the cliché of her hitting 'rock bottom' and then recovering. But it never came and she died just after her 40th birthday. I still have some good memories of her but when I think back they are all tinted with all of the misery and desperation that she endured in her last years and the hurt/guilt that I feel, both for not helping more actively and for just having the good dumb luck of not being the dead alcoholic sibling.

Brian Smith did a pretty great job putting words to that that desperation and guilt and helplessness - even when you see it for exactly what it is and know better - and not judging it. That was his friend, and he loved his friend.

Oh, and the lines "you can trust me not to think / and not to sleep around / and if you don't expect too much from me / you might not be let down" are so much better with "drink" in there. The dude wrote a classic.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:40 AM on January 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

I was 18 when the album came out, I've got at least half a dozen memories tied up with these songs. I knew Doug's story roughly but this is the first real account I've read. I don't have anything useful to add but I am really glad Doug existed.

(obligatory note that the album was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, birthplace of Big Star, and that Big Star's Jody Stephens worked on the album, GB may not have been "cool" but they certainly had some cred)
posted by Cosine at 11:23 AM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the lines "you can trust me not to think / and not to sleep around / and if you don't expect too much from me / you might not be let down" are so much better with "drink" in there. The dude wrote a classic.

Yup, that's a far better lyric. For years I thought it was "Cause all I really want is to be with you/Feeling like I never do", which doesn't scan but seemed to sum up the wistful, self-aware regret running through the song.

Found Out About You is simultaneously creepy and such a well-crafted bit of 60s-esque power pop, I bet the first time Noel Gallagher heard it he wanted to kick in a window.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:21 PM on January 8, 2019

Oh, and the lines "you can trust me not to think / and not to sleep around / and if you don't expect too much from me / you might not be let down" are so much better with "drink" in there. The dude wrote a classic.

This song came out when I was in college and in any relationship I was in, the man would invariably tell me I overthought and overanalyzed everything, and we'd both be happier if I didn't think too much.

So when I heard "you can trust me not to think," it resonated, because it was the kind of impossible promise everyone wanted me to make and I knew in my bones I wouldn't. That helped the song feel especially bittersweet. For me, the lyric works either way.

(I saw them live a few times in the early 1990s. Not a great live band, IMO, but maybe they got better with age.)
posted by sobell at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Weirdly, I always heard the lyric as Hopkins' version; it always made more sense to me than "think."
posted by uberchet at 2:33 PM on January 21, 2019

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