If you ever come back to Hackensack
April 2, 2020 5:03 AM   Subscribe

I wish I had the ability at the moment to build out the proper thorough post Adam deserves here. Hopefully throughout the day we can all do that. I just heard, & came here to the Blue to try to start to process.
posted by foodbedgospel at 5:04 AM on April 2 [9 favorites]

posted by allthinky at 5:14 AM on April 2

Very sad news. Rolling Stone has a recap of his work. Here is a brief look at what his associates and friends are posting.
posted by thelonius at 5:15 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]

“That Thing You Do!” is enough to secure his place in history. And even if he only gets partial credit for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, that’s a bigger and better oeuvre than all but a very few songwriters of this century.

posted by Etrigan at 5:23 AM on April 2 [17 favorites]


Please don't rock me tonight. I'm not in the mood.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:35 AM on April 2 [7 favorites]

Angel broke her wing
Oh, you poor thing
The hum of the motor gave way to
The tick tick ticking of the clock...

posted by ubiquity at 5:41 AM on April 2

posted by Cash4Lead at 5:49 AM on April 2

posted by schmod at 5:49 AM on April 2

posted by aesop at 5:51 AM on April 2

posted by the_blizz at 5:52 AM on April 2

Damn. "Red Dragon Tattoo" was actually the last song I listened to on my commute when my office was still open.

Etrigan is right; "That Thing You Do" is an all-time classic.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:54 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]

I was shocked and delighted to learn that Adam Schlesinger wrote "That Thing You Do"

You can see him playing bass in this 2011 Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, which includes four songs from the very solid "Sky Full of Holes" It's kind of hard to seem him playing with the band, exhausted at the end of what would be their final tour, unaware of what awaits eight years later.
posted by mecran01 at 5:54 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]

posted by HillbillyInBC at 5:59 AM on April 2

I just sat on my couch and cried when I heard. So sad.
posted by Malla at 6:04 AM on April 2

I love FoW and Schlesinger so much and I was so sad to hear this yesterday. I immediately put on some of his music and quickly realized, of course, that it’s almost impossible to feel sad listening to his songs. They’re gems, all of ‘em. He had a rare gift in that even when you could see the mechanics at work in his music, you didn’t care because the tunes were so good.

Radiation Vibe and Sink To The Bottom were my intro to his work and they hooked me immediately. He was one of the folks responsible for making the Josie and the Pussycats movie and soundtrack oh so very great.

I posted about this on FB yesterday and there was this outpouring of love from so many different people. Lots of people are ride-or-die for the Welcome Interstate Managers album, a bunch of big Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans who were heartbroken at the news because they had been excited for the Nanny musical. And I had one friend who admitted that his intro to Schlesinger was through his songwriting for Nick Jr.'s Bubble Guppies.

It would be ridiculous to talk about him without mentioning "That Thing You Do," of course, but a perusal of his shockingly long IMDB page reveals a bunch of stuff I didn't know about previously. He was, for instance, the composer for the Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore vehicle Music and Lyrics as well as uhh Crank Yankers.

His style of rock solid, highly literate songwriting is identifiable enough to have been lovingly skewered by songwriter Robbie Fulks.

Still, one of my favorite moments in his career was performing a song he didn't write. Shortly after 9/11, Fountains went on Conan O'Brien to play a Kinks song. And it was, as they always were, wonderful and spirit-lifting.

Thanks Adam. Sorry it had to end this way. I'll miss you.
posted by Maaik at 6:09 AM on April 2 [26 favorites]

. I'll fire my Supercollider off later Adam. Come visit.
posted by sydnius at 6:15 AM on April 2

posted by suetanvil at 6:22 AM on April 2

posted by ZeusHumms at 6:24 AM on April 2

A huge loss accompanied by the dreadful realization that there are a lot more of them to come.

posted by HunterFelt at 6:30 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

posted by camyram at 6:31 AM on April 2

posted by dlugoczaj at 6:44 AM on April 2

posted by teferi at 6:49 AM on April 2

I am absolutely gutted by this. The Fountains of Wayne's "Utopia Parkway" album will always be associated with my time in NYC back in the late 90's. A friend of mine's band secured their major label record contract thanks to Schlesinger hearing them and talking with them afterwards about what turned out to be a mutual love for Ray Davies and the Kinks.

posted by KingEdRa at 6:55 AM on April 2 [5 favorites]

posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:59 AM on April 2

Whoa. My thirties are being dismantled

I always equated Fountains of Wayne of being more like Squeeze. Particular to South London. Story songs power-pop written so well but Kinks makes sense now. never thought about that.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 7:00 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]

In addition to Fountains of Wayne, "That Thing You Do," and everything else already mentioned, Schlesinger was a friend of They Might Be Giants. He produced and played on three tracks on Mink Car, including one of my favorites, "Man, It's So Loud In Here," to which he contributed "a lot of the programming." He was also a member of the band Ivy, which opened for TMBG on a few dates of the John Henry tour, and that's how I learned today that I saw a pre-FoW Adam Schlesinger in concert in 1995. Sadly, the audience was not impressed, and gave them a polite reception but little more.

And one final note about "That Thing You Do": Upon the film's release, both Dick Clark and Casey Kasem agreed that if the title song had really been released in 1964, it would have been a huge hit. You can't get higher praise than that.

posted by Faint of Butt at 7:00 AM on April 2 [15 favorites]

posted by brainwane at 7:05 AM on April 2

What, no love for Stacy's Mom? That song was as close to a Cars reunion as we were ever going to get.

posted by ensign_ricky at 7:07 AM on April 2 [8 favorites]

posted by Gelatin at 7:22 AM on April 2

posted by trillian at 7:26 AM on April 2

posted by From Bklyn at 7:27 AM on April 2

@gregmaletic: "'That Thing You Do' and others were absolutely great songs, but I had [the] most admiration for a tough job—his theme to Kathy Griffin’s talk show—which managed to be catchy AND lyrically spin the host’s loudmouth persona in a charming way."

Never heard the song until now but man that's a catchy tune. His work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was just incredible.

posted by JoeZydeco at 7:31 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Never got deep into FoW, but I love Sky Full of Holes. He was clearly a great songwriter.

posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:32 AM on April 2

posted by droplet at 7:33 AM on April 2

Here representing for Tinted Windows, his supergroup is Taylor Hanson, Bun E. Carlos and James Iha. Enjoy their (unfortunately not a) hit single, "Kind of a Girl." What a very fine songwriter. Stay inside, folks.
posted by jscalzi at 7:36 AM on April 2 [12 favorites]

I remember being a kid on a family vacation to Minnesota to see my step-mom's family for Christmas and the radio was playing Radiation Vibe frequently, a song I'd never heard back home on my local station. I couldn't get it out of my head the whole trip and after returning home immediately went out and bought the album. Thanks, Adam. You were one of the best.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:38 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]

I played the shit out of that first album when it came out.

posted by dobbs at 7:45 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Surprised at how sad I was -- but then, attempting to explain my love for (the extremely excellent) Josie and the Pussycats is probably for another time. Selfishly, I feel cheated. We should've had years more of his work.

posted by grandiloquiet at 7:52 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]

posted by crocomancer at 7:58 AM on April 2

Go and watch the “Pop Goes My Heart” music video from “Music and Lyrics”. It’s incredible.

My only mild criticism is that it’s probably too good to be period-accurate.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:00 AM on April 2 [5 favorites]

He produced and played on three tracks on Mink Car, including one of my favorites, "Man, It's So Loud In Here," to which he contributed "a lot of the programming."

OH NO. That's my all-time favoritest TMBG song, in part because of the sound and sound design. So many things I had no idea he did. Such a fucking loss.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:18 AM on April 2

posted by MrBadExample at 8:39 AM on April 2

posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on April 2

He wrote so much of the soundtrack for my life in his perfect, perfectly written film and tv music. Just such a crushing loss.
posted by angeline at 8:43 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

You're awake and trying not to be
Wrapped around your pillow like a prawn
And the nighttime's wrapped around you
Will be until it drops you on the dawn...

-No Better Place

And late December can drag a man down
You feel it deep in your gut
Short days and afternoons spent pottering along
In a dark house with the windows painted shut.

-Valley Winter Song

He not only wrote insanely catchy songs, there's a lyrical depth to FoW, something visual and evocative.
posted by skullhead at 8:44 AM on April 2 [9 favorites]

The problem with making a movie about a successful band or comedy show is that if the song or skit is *too good* you would have just saved it for some other outlet. So there's a silent agreement between filmmaker and audience that "when you see/hear this thing understand that in the world of the film its bringing the house down" and we accept that placeholder and suspend disbelief.
What's wonderfully unique about Adam Schlesinger's "That Thing You Do" (vocals by Mike Viola ) from Tom Hanks' film of the same name is that the moment you hear it its infectiousness requires little suspension of disbelief at all. It's a bright, terrific pop song that goes a lot of places melodically and knows not to wear out its welcome. You can absolutely believe in spending a summer hearing this tune out of every passing car and transistor radio. That's an impossible trick for a soundtrack song to pull off and an even bigger one to make look as effortless as "That Thing You Do" does.
That's Adam Schlesinger. His genius is still with us in literal stacks of songs as great as this one and its a tragedy that we won't get to hear more. He had a singular gift for character sketch songs that managed to be humorous without drifting too far into jokey and brimming with pathos without being dour or maudlin.
If you were ever even a little curious to check out his main band (yeah dude worked a lot and with many other bands/partners) Fountains of Wayne, you owe it to yourself to take that dive now. I suggest starting with Welcome Interstate Managers since it had the hit. You're in for a treat.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:48 AM on April 2 [18 favorites]

I just love the whole damn Welcome Interstate Managers album so much, I'm listening to it now for the first time in a few years.

posted by skewed at 8:52 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]

posted by Senor Cardgage

Somewhere there's a Venn diagram of "people who will talk endlessly about how great a song 'That Thing You Do' is" and "people with MetaFilter handles inspired by Homestar Runner," and you and I are right in the middle of it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:54 AM on April 2 [11 favorites]

posted by ssmith at 9:11 AM on April 2

A friend-of-a-friend sat down next to me in sophmore year English Literature class and said "we just saw Smashing Pumpkins and the opening band was unbelievable. A cross between Weezer and They Might Be Giants. You would love them." Without digital music or any real internet, I drove that night to the record store and bought their debut album without hearing a note.

It was one of the rare circumstances where the payoff is even better than the anticipation. Those first two records became a college soundtrack and set off a lifetime love affair. It was true joy when Stacy's Mom became a sensation and they got the love they deserved. (They got a Grammy nomination for "Best New Artist" for it - for their third major label record!)

And holy shit That Thing You Do! is a perfect pop song.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:15 AM on April 2 [13 favorites]

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:16 AM on April 2

Such an unbelievably talented songwriter. I had Welcome Interstate Managers on heavy rotation back in the day, and he had such a gift for both a perfect pop song, and for lyrics - usually a character sketch that was wry and sympathetic and knowing and a little bit funny. There aren't enough songwriters who can pull off humour like he could. For example, there are so many songs about adolescent horniness (entire careers and genres, really) -- but Stacy's Mom is not only in the canon as one of the great songs, it's one of the very few that shows how shallow and delusional adolescent horniness actually is.

It's telling that any time Hollywood needed a song that was a perfect pop smash, or that told a character story, he was the one they came to. He cowrote almost 150 songs for Crazy Ex Girlfriend. If he'd won the Oscar for That Thing You Do! (which he should have), he'd have been 3/4 of the way to an EGOT (and, fun fact, the EGOT club would be slightly more exclusive - Andrew Lloyd Webber's only Oscar was that year, for "You Must Love Me" from Evita.)

One thing not mentioned; his Emmy winning work on the Tonys award show, including Not Just For Gays Anymore.

posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:18 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]

This has always been my favorite Fountains of Wayne lyric, and one of my all time favorites of any artist:

And it may be the whiskey talking,
but the whiskey says "I miss you" everyday

posted by skewed at 9:33 AM on April 2 [11 favorites]

He was such a goddamned genius at writing songs for film and television. He was just perfect at it. This is such a loss.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:57 AM on April 2

He was such a goddamned genius at writing songs for film and television. He was just perfect at it. This is such a loss.

And just for ears too.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:05 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

God, this one hurts. Managers is a delight but that first record I truly believe is completely perfect. And he seemed like a true mensch to boot. Ouch.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:21 AM on April 2

There's so much to love about him, and so much to be sad about this news. I rewatched That Thing You Do a couple of months ago, and the title track is such good catchy pop that every time it comes up in the film you go "whoop, it's that song again."

It's really hard to write great original songs and it's really hard to write great pastiches (or songs in the style of), but hardly anyone has ever been able to do both as well as he did.
posted by YoungStencil at 10:30 AM on April 2 [3 favorites]

This really hurts. On Tuesday, Chris Collingwood posted an update from Adam's family that led me to have hope that he would recover. What a loss.

Sharing the first NPR interview that made me fall in love with FOW as a band, and develop such affection for Adam and Chris as people. The throwaway line, "That's a lot of kids," (around 4:45) always makes me laugh.

You get the sense from recent interviews that Chris and Adam drifted apart over the past few years, but I hope they parted as friends. Here's a great clip of Richie & Reuben from their last tour together, just the two of them.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:33 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

The bourbon sits inside me.
Right now I'm a puppet in its sway.
And it may be the whisky talking,
but the whiskey says "I miss you"
every day.
posted by baltimoretim at 11:38 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]

I remember driving through Wayne, New Jersey in 2005 and seeing the business "Fountains of Wayne" and felt so chuffed that I had found the origin of the bands name.

Fuckin a what a loss.
posted by nikaspark at 12:38 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

posted by lazaruslong at 12:42 PM on April 2

posted by eclectist at 12:46 PM on April 2

This one really hurts. My introduction was Utopia Parkway and to this day it is one of my favorite records, Troubled Times, one of my favorite songs.
posted by pasici at 1:06 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

2007 June 13: Fountains of Wayne perform in the Current studio, on Minnesota Public Radio
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:10 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

Shine on, shine on, shine on
posted by danabanana at 1:52 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]

posted by gudrun at 2:55 PM on April 2

I went through the entire FOW catalog today while working. Celebrity deaths normally don't phase me at all, but I've been thinking about him all day. Adam was also the same age as me, which doesn't help.

posted by COD at 2:58 PM on April 2 [6 favorites]

Radiation Vibe is a perfect pop song.
posted by Atom Eyes at 5:12 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

posted by SisterHavana at 8:02 PM on April 2

My favorite moment in any Adam Schlesinger song is at 2:46 of Ivy's Edge of the Ocean. The bridge begins at 2:20, where you should begin listening while you read this. Near the end of the bridge, the intensity of what was previously a mellow track rises dramatically, but paradoxically without any increase in volume. The track threatens to erupt in distortion, welling up in a way where it seems to come close to breaking, growing fuller and fuller. Suddenly it crests, returning us to the chorus. Brilliant.
posted by eschatfische at 8:05 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

I saw Fountains of Wayne open for the Smashing Pumpkins at Key Arena in January 1997. It was, if concertarchives.org is to be believed, one of their very first shows, or at least shows large enough to be memorialized on the internet. They were clearly having a great time - I got the impression they were kind of "Well we're on a crazy ride now, aren't we". They put on a great energetic set, despite the crappy acoustics of the venue - especially in comparison to Smashing Pumpkins, who just seemed like they were going through the motions. Their self-titled album and Utopia Parkway were crucial soundtracks in my middle and high school years, and now I need to go revisit them. A lot of what I listened to in the 90s hasn't held up at all well, but I'm confident those will.

posted by skycrashesdown at 8:56 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]

posted by equalpants at 12:56 AM on April 3

Such a brilliant songwriter.

posted by tdismukes at 2:17 AM on April 3

When my daughter was a newborn I had a very short list of songs on the "rocking the baby to sleep" playlist in my head that I would sing over and over (or play over and over) and Valley Winter Song was on that list. We were trapped indoors in the midst of a polar vortex winter and that song invoked the kind of winter I wanted instead of the winter of crushing postpartum depression I had: short days and afternoons spent puttering around, in a dark house with the windows painted shut.

What else is new? What can I do?

We rocked together, sometimes both of us were crying, and we made it to spring when the clouds parted. Your daddy told you when you were a girl, the kind of things that come to those who wait. The earth and me and her were okay in time.

Adam Schlesinger wrote the soundtrack to my recovery from postpartum depression and his music is forever linked to those dark days and long cold nights rocking like our lives depended on it. He will always live on in the soundtrack of my life.
posted by juniperesque at 8:27 AM on April 3 [9 favorites]

This is such a big loss. Welcome Interstate Managers was one of my "play constantly" albums when a friend introduced me, and I quickly got hooked on so many other songs by them. They're perfect for singing along to in the car. And then he kept going and going, continually putting out awesome work.

I saw them twice in concert, once at a weird under-attended concert that ended up feeling like they were playing just for us.

Maybe one day soon it will all come out
How you dream about each other sometimes
With the memory of how you once gave up
But you made it through the troubled times

posted by PussKillian at 10:14 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Gonna watch Josie and the Pussycats tonight. He had a hand in so many great things, but I have a particular soft spot for the soundtrack to this movie - Pretend to Be Nice (YouTube link) is awesome. And I need a silly, underrated comedy today.

Thanks Adam.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:24 AM on April 3

posted by filtergik at 3:01 PM on April 4

A couple few years back I saw them when there was still a Maxwell's. That tiny room was packed with people, like myself, convinced that Welcome Interstate Managers was written about them.

posted by whuppy at 10:00 AM on April 7 [2 favorites]

posted by koucha at 9:46 PM on April 11

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