It’s difficult to imagine anyone left on the face of the planet (already familiar with the man’s work, that is) who isn’t aware that singer/songwriter John Wesley Harding and critically acclaimed novelist Wesley Stace are one and the same. Henceforth, he has announced that he will record under the name Wesley Stace, and hopefully never again be asked why he assumed the name of a 1967 Bob Dylan album, misspelling and all. “It’s like what happens at the end of a Spider-Man or a Batman movie,” says Stace. “When the superhero reveals his true identity to his girlfriend.” “Girlfriend” may be the operative word on Stace’s new album, Self-Titled (Yep Roc), in which a 47-year-old man, now comfortably married and living in Philadelphia, reflects back over the loves of his younger life. Stace will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on him.
Stace: Everything Sparks ever did is interesting to me in some way or other.
As a kid, I loved “Number One Song In Heaven,” “Beat The Clock,” “This Town Ain’t Big Enough” and anything else that I only managed to hear because it made the charts and was therefore on the radio, but it took a friend sending me a few select mp3s, and my therefore listening closely to those, to realise how great Sparks really is. The song that did it for me was “Here In Heaven” from Kimono My House, an almost perfect marriage of lyric and music.
It’s one of those songs I had to take apart and figure out for myself on acoustic guitar to see how it worked. Unbelievable this was never released as a single in the halcyon days of glam rock.
This is also the same band who wrote this mini-masterpiece of the carnivalesque, “Suburban Homeboy” from Lil’ Beethoven, their adventurous and wonderful “orchestral” album.
Their project—a life as brothers in art, a kind of glam-rock Gilbert and George deal, finally—seems unique, and I admire everything: the songs, arrangements, the singing (of course), the distinct personalities. They are now my ultimate act for the Cabinet of Wonders. And then I’m suddenly reading Sparkstastic by Tosh Berman (recommended).
So I’m very late on Sparks, but that’s the great thing about music: it’s all there waiting for you when you need it. We should really stop making new music altogether and catch up a little. Viva the Maels!