When Life Gives You Lemons, Listen to 'Come On Feel The Lemonheads'


It was Evan Dando's birthday on Monday. Happy birthday, Evan! Here are four little stories about some kids and a supermodel and a cute jar of juice:

i. I went to Laurel Canyon Country Store a couple Tuesdays ago - I was coming home from the Valley, and you can't drive down Laurel Canyon Boulevard and not stop at the Canyon Store. I bought a bottle of Canyon Store wine and a bag of mini-marshmallows, and also some nag champa incense. There was a little boy in front of me in line and his name was Jagger, he looked like if Thurston Moore was blonde and a five-year-old. Jagger couldn't decide between M&Ms and Starburst and his mom was trying to hurry him along, for my sake, and I smiled at her like "No, it's cool, I am more than happy to stand here forever and watch your adorable child pick out his candy," which was true: Jagger seemed like a great kid and had such good energy; he was genuinely torn between the M&Ms and the Starburst and I identified with that. In the end he got the M&Ms, and as they walked out he turned to his mom and asked, "Do you know what size these M&Ms are? SHARING SIZE." And then I died, and smiled at the mom again, like "Seriously? Your child is FUCKING DELIGHTFUL" and felt really happy about everything for many minutes. Then I took this picture in the mirror outside the store:

ii. A few Fridays ago I went to Venice after class and I got lunch at a new-ish health-food place on Abbot Kinney. My lunch was a plate of grains and greens and beans and beets and a sauce made of yellow bell pepper, which was a weird choice; I kind of impulse-ordered it. After lunch I was walking to my car and there were three little girls (about ten-years-old, I think?) hanging out on a bench on the corner and they asked if they could sing me a song. I said sure in a drawl that was such a ripoff of the way Evan Dando said "sure" to me, on that night I already told you about. So the girls started the song and two of them sang while the third played drums on an overturned plastic cup - every few beats she'd pick up the cup, slide it to the edge of the bench, flip it over and start drumming on it again. The song was a breakup song and there was a line like "You're gonna miss me by my hair, you're gonna miss me everywhere" and there was another lyric about leaving town with nothing but two bottles of whiskey. The drummer had crimped white-blonde hair and the lead singer had a retainer and they were all wearing babydoll dresses and leggings. When they were done I gave them two bucks, which wasn't nearly enough, and asked "How long you guys been doing this?" - meaning, like, how long had they been a singing group? They all yelled "HOURS AND HOURS!!" and then told me how they lived nearby and they loved to sing on the sidewalk, it was one of their favorite things. I told them to keep it up, and once I left I instantly regretted not inventing a label and signing them right there, like Rob did with the Kinky Wizards in High Fidelity.

iii. The Saturday morning/afternoon before I left Los Angeles for Christmas, I walked down Sunset Boulevard for a really long time. I had no idea where I was going, but I walked and walked and after about four miles I peeked into the window of a restaurant that specializes in locally grown foods or whatever the fuck. In line there was the woman whose physical appearance I stole for the main character in my book, back when I first started writing my book. That woman and my girl don't look that much alike anymore, but they’ve got the same general facial structure and hair and willowiness. The woman’s kind of famous, I met her twice in 2007 and she’s so cool and so I went into the restaurant just to stand next to her. She was wearing a cashmere trenchcoat and Lakers sweatpants and she was by herself and dancing to "The Little Drummer Boy." She looked gorgeous and awesome and I felt so grateful and charmed, that I happened to be walking past the restaurant right at that moment. I got a ham and cheese croissant and ate it while walking down the street, and as she drove past me in her silver Porsche I thought how she's one of the two most beautiful people I've ever met in my life, the other being Evan Dando.

iv. Last Monday I bought a jar of juice for 10 dollars. I had a doctor's appointment in Santa Monica and I ended up waiting in the waiting room for an hour and fifteen minutes. It was lame but I dealt with it, I used my phone to read a Bullett interview with Cat Marnell and look at pictures of Ben Affleck decorating tiny cakes with his wife and daughters. After the doctor I went to Venice, to a place on Abbot Kinney called Local 1205. I got an iced coffee and did some work and on the way out bought a jar of juice because it was called Lush Meadow. Ten dollars is so much money to spend on juice, at least for me: I don't really care about juicing, I like to gnaw on my vegetables and fruits, I like to use my teeth. (I'm also of the opinion that smoothies are bullshit, although of course milkshakes are wonderful and heaven.) But anyway the juice was in a jar and it was named Lush Meadow and that's a really pretty name for something you're going to drink, and to be honest I was kind of already sold at "jar of juice": so many things in my life I'm drawn to because they sound cool, because I like the way the words and the syllables go together in my mouth. "I'm going to drink a lush meadow" - that sounds so sweet and magical.

Lush Meadow is made of turmeric, cucumber, kale, green apple, celery, and parsley. It tastes like grass, of course, though I can kinda taste the apple. Here is a picture of my Lush Meadow jar and a bottle of bear wine:

Basically I just wish Lush Meadow were a lemonade, maybe lemonade with green apple, or maybe Green Apple Lemonade with Strawberry and Other Things. On Sunday I bought lemonade from a little boy's lemonade stand down the block and it wasn't very good, but it was nice just to give some kid some money and then walk down the street drinking lemonade from a big red plastic cup. Maybe I should go into business with that kid, and we'll call our lemonade Lush Meadow, and it will be The Most Lovely and Lemonheadsy Lemonade In The Land.


In addition to being Evan Dando's birthday week, it's also the year of the 20th anniversary of Come On Feel The Lemonheads. That album came out when I was 15 and I loved it but I don't think I ever really "got it" till now. It took me 20 years to realize its value.

A few weeks ago a new friend of mine asked if it was hard to write Strawberry Fields Whatever and also write my book and write everything I write for work. And I was like "If the blog stuff ever feels too hard, I just stop doing it." Because I don't believe in Strawberry Fields Whatever ever being a drag - if I'm not having fun writing it, I don't want it to exist here. And that's what I love about Come On Feel The Lemonheads, that's why it means so much more to me now than it did when I was a teenager: I'm just so into how it all sounds so easy, but it's never ever thoughtless. It's fun and it's thoughtful in its own totally original, totally goofball sort of way. So fucking underrated, man. Evan Dando is so undervalued as a songwriter, and these are the four things I value most about Come On Feel The Lemonheads at this moment in time:


There is so much generosity in Evan's lyrics, a warmth that's sort of intentionally deluded and bonkers-optimistic. Like when he sings "Everyone knows everything, nobody has got no one to go to" in "The Great Big No": of course that's not how he feels or how you feel, but for that moment you believe it and it changes you. And whenever I hear the part in "You Can Take It With You" that goes "You can be too rich, and you can be too thin, and you can take it with you," I immediately feel lighter and better about everything. 

Because I'm feeling mega-self-indulgent this morning I also want to tell you that my favorite part of "You Can Take It With You" is when Evan cracks up laughing. His laugh just melts me. There's a a minor character in my book whose personality/vibe/excessive handsomeness I ripped off of Evan, and I still haven't quite nailed how to write his laugh. It's so dopey and cute and free, and I love how he laughs his way through this big weird Regis & Kathi Lee interview from '92 or something, how he's the most adorbs combination of super mellowed out and deeply uncomfortable. 1:42 is a pretty solid example of the beauty of Evan's laugh:


In "Rest Assured" there's a lyric that goes "Pepper, Salt, Sugar and Tarragon/ were hanging by the pool" and it's seriously my favorite lyric in the whole world right now. Just some spices and seasonings and a sweetener, all hanging out at a pool together. That's all! That's all that's happening. I have a pool now and I'm gonna change my name to Pepper, Salt, Sugar or Tarragon and find three other people to be the other names and all summer long we'll just hang by the pool and drink Lush Meadows and live our Lemonheadsy life.

Howevs, the most concentrated whimsy on the album is in "Dawn Can't Decide," which is maybe my favorite song on Come On Feel The Lemonheads. I love how it sounds like all little bits of things put together, like a collage you'd make when you're 11-years-old or a blog post you make when you're 35. It starts off about hanging out on a porch and then it's about "making out in Lancaster/just to pass the time" and about Taang! Records and Amy Fisher. Then Evan sings "Feels good to be Jesse on the inside today," which is about Jesse Peretz, who keeps directing episodes of Girls, which is so good and sweetly weird this season (one of the ones he directed was called "It's A Shame About Ray" and at first I had attitude about a Girls episode being named after a Lemonheads song/album but then it ended with Hannah and Jessa in the bathtub and I felt completely okay: buddies in the bathtub is just about as Lemonheadsy as it gets). Then Evan says "G minor morning was a D minor dawning" three times and then the last part of the song goes "Strike-strike the right chord in me, strike the right chord, ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba ba, ba ba, ba ba ba ba ba, no paperwork...NO PAPERWORK!" - which is absolutely a lyric I can get behind. NO PAPERWORK!!!!! No paperwork forever.


In high school "Big Gay Heart" was shocking because of when Evan says "I don't need you to suck my dick or to help me feel good about myself" - or at least that's what the girl who sat in front of me in American History thought. I just thought it was cool! He sings "I don't need you to suck my dick" so gently and sweetly, but it's a pretty brave line. I have a Lemonheads/"Big Gay Heart" shirt that says "LOOK AFTER YOURSELF" in a font best described as "Country Bear Jamboree" and it's in my house somewhere and every three months or so I'm like "This is it - this is the day when I find my 'Look After Yourself' shirt," but then I never do. "Why can't you look after yourself and not down on me?" is a brave line too. It's the "You do you and I'll do me" of '93.


"I'll Do It Anyway" is the song of my life in 2013 or maybe forever - who's to say. When Evan Dando and Belinda Carlisle harmonize on the lyric "I'm still a girl, and it's just a horse, and I got the reins," it says more to me about my life than almost any other art I've ever experienced. I like how "I'll Do It Anyway" Evan kind of hates everything but he's still a lump of love; it's so inspiring when he sings the part that goes "And just to make 'em mad/ I'm gonna do it for fun." People are big jerks, he's saying to me and I guess to you too, but don't ever let that harsh your mellow.

LET NO ONE HARSH YOUR MARSHMALLOW is my number-one message, to Jagger and the Abbot Kinney girls and the lemonade boy, and all other cool kids everywhere.


Remember how in 1999 there was that thing that was some dude reading a poem that was erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut and in the background was the version of "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good)" that plays during the wedding scene of the Claire Danes version of Romeo & Juliet? There was a line that goes "Do one thing a day that scares you" and I used to think about that all the time and I guess I still think it's okay advice. But the piece of advice that resonates with me more today, in 2013, is the one that goes something like "Do lots of things all the time that are entirely Come On Feel The Lemonheads-y in spirit and energy and intention." That's the advice I gave to myself last night and it's already changed everything.

I told the stories up above because they are all recent moments in my life that felt very Come On Feel The Lemonheads-y, but in each of them there's some deep regret: I should've told Jagger's mom that Jagger is awesome, I should've started a record label and signed those girls, I should've said hi to the supermodel at Forage, and I should've gone into the lemonade business with that little boy down the block. I feel like the Lemonheads know a lot about regret, so that's one part of Lemonheads-y-ness I'd like to lose. It would be good to shake off the fear of saying or doing weird things, to always be mindful that people like strange and lovely surprises, to just try a little harder to be generous and brave all the time no matter goddamn what.

At the end of Come On Feel The Lemonheads there's a secret hidden song and it's sleazy and cheesy and amazing; one of the lyrics is "Lenny, you're so good to me, and I'm only 15, baby." I love that lyric, and it's neat how the "15" matches my age at the time of Come On Feel The Lemonheads' release. My favorite part of the secret song, though, is the part at the end when it's Evan talking in a make-believe tough-guy voice. He goes "She's cool, hey/She can be my...protégé" and it sounds so good to me. I'll be your protégé, Evan! I totally already am.


  1. Was the cups song this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_9i9Q7KIrU 'cause I'm super into it, too, and I bet it'd be even better delivered by kids.

    1. oh my god yes! so happy you found that. yay!

    2. totally kills me that that little girl was trying to replicate the cup trick btw