By Shirley Higgins-Croft
Sir Ben Lee has released a new downloadable single called “Dinner with Chris Stein” on the ManicPixieDreamBoy label.
The jaunty track recalls a evening in 1999 when a young, wide-eyed Ben shared a dinner with the visionary Blondie guitarist.
Over the meal of peas, raspberries and a potato, Stein disabuses his younger self of the power of new-wave music and of the subversiveness of art itself.
The sense of a wide-eyed troubadour having his atavistic heart-of-glass broken is beautifully imagined in the lilting wistfulness of what is sure to be another classic song. Lee effortlessly twists and contorts and twirls his narrative to enable the unlikely and seemingly unwise rhyming of ‘smacking’ with ‘hacking’ and ‘premium’ with ‘mediums’. The proposition presented to the listener is insistent, brave and unlikely, and cannot be ignored.
Of course, Stein was not to know the road that would be travelled by his dinner companion in the ensuing years; from Cigarettes to Placid Lake to (non-wacky) songs about Islam. How very wrong he was on that night in New York.
Sir Ben’s next endeavour is in keeping with the optimistic and daring arc of his career. He is planning a huge outdoor show in August on the Spratly Islands, entitled “The China Sea is not all Chinese“, which aims to promote cooperation and love between those nations that would make a claim on those stormy waters.
It is expected that Josh Radnor, BIGBANG and Gula Gula will perform at the show. Many top acts are expected to follow.
You can read the story of ‘Dinner with Chris Stein’, and listen to the track here.