William Shatner, most famous for his tv icon role as Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek, as the eponymous T J Hooker & his current role as Denny Crane in Boston Legal is also a musician, bestselling author, producer, director, and celebrity pitchman. His second solo album Has Been, released in 2004, was a success for him, reaching the # 22 spot on the US Charts. The album contains 11 songs, delivered in his trademark spoken word style, that mainly centers around Shatner’s often melancholy and regretful autobiographical ruminations, and features a number of prestigious guest artists such as Aimee Mann, Lemon Jelly, Henry Rollins, Brad Paisley and Joe Jackson. The album was arranged by Ben Folds.
The album stars with a cover of Pulp’s Common People, which has some lines sung by Joe Jackson. But the album gem is the second track and the only one which I had heard before getting the whole album. It Still Hasn’t Happened Yet is a melancholic look at someone’s career (Shatner’s own during his leanest years perhaps?) and the fact that he still hasn’t achieved what he set out to be and is now a lonely person with time running out for him. The music by Ben Folds is haunting and in the background you can hear a women humming the music to great effect.
Other tracks are the non-music accompanied What Have You Don about Bill finding his wife dead in their pool and his feelings about the event. I Can’t Get Behind That is wonderment at things that people seem to like but what Shanter can’t! And joining him in the rant is Henry Rollins. You have a country semi-ballad written by Brad Paisely, who sings the chorus line in the song, especially for Shatner. The lyrics implies Shatner’s iconic status and having ‘saved worlds’ but when confronted with people who ask him to help them, he has to be apologetic and say that he is only ‘real’ and not like the hero seen on tv. The chorus goes :
And while there’s a part of me
In that guy you’ve seen
Up there on that screen
I am so much more
And I wish I knew the things you think I do
I would change this world for sure
But I eat and sleep and breathe and bleed and feel
Sorry to disappoint you
But I’m real
All in all this is a great ‘evening chaser’ of an album (by that I mean, put the album songs on in the evening, say around 5:45 pm or so and chase the evening towards night) and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the songs on it.