The Thing About Reunions (Part 2)

A group of people come together. Like-minded in some way, they form a band. They make a record. They have success. They have fans, who form lasting memories with their songs. A connection is made. Then one day… they break up. Maybe you noticed and it was sad for you. Maybe you didn’t notice because the spotlight had moved on long ago, as you did, going on to grow and live your life and find new interests. And time passed. The years weren’t counted at first, but eventually approached a big round number, like 20 and you started thinking about that band again. And other people started thinking about that band. And the band heard the call and said, “We can get together and play those songs for you.” And for a brief moment, everyone was happy again.

But what if it wasn’t the exact same group of people? What if one of the members didn’t reenlist? Would you cry foul? Would you go online and preach that it’s not a true reunion without Timmy-Tim Tom? Or maybe it just depends on the member. Maybe you were never really familiar with everyone in the band, but as long as some version of the group is out there, you’re fine. What if the songs were really only written by one of the people in the band and they were definitely part of it? Would that make a difference?

OK, enough with the generalities. We’ve got plenty of examples, so let’s use a few recent ones. Are you going to see The Smashing Pumpkins at the KFC Yum! Center? Haters need not reply to that question. I’m asking the fans. More specifically, are you one of the people who said, “But D’arcy isn’t part of it, so it’s not really a reunion,” even though three quarters of the band is together? D’arcy Wretzky, a great bass player in her day, hasn’t played for over a decade and was never really part of the songwriting process. She looked cool AF though, I agree. I’m not a Billy Corgan sympathizer, but I see his point that they didn’t necessarily need to have D’arcy along for it to be the band. That’s not to say that I don’t want to see her up there. I do. Or at least Melissa Auf De Maur, who replaced her in 2000. But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still a reunion. So play on.

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Here’s one that’s even more divided. Stone Temple Pilots are back, even though their lead singer, Scott Weiland, died a year and a half ago, and his replacement, Chester Bennington, left us last year as well. But they found another guy, and he sounds a lot like Weiland. And, in fact, the songs are pretty good, as good as anything the band has done mid-to-late career anyway. That’s in large part because it was the other guys, the band, who wrote the songs. All those classics? Those guys did it. But you connected with Scott Weiland, right? So, to you, he was the band. And he’s gone, so they shouldn’t be allowed to be a band. But that hardly seems fair. There are three other guys who’ve devoted their lives, have trudged through the mud and deep waters and come out the other side. They’ve got a catalog of music that’s theirs. So, shouldn’t it be OK if they needed to tap in someone else to take the lead? If your answer is, “Well, they should at least change their name,” then you’d be shortchanging their ability to make money. It’s amazing how much fewer a band makes just by not touring under the name they’re famous for.

Or how about Journey? Folks said, “Well, they’re a Journey cover band.” If it were that only Journey’s bass player was gone, would you say the same thing? That would be Ross Valory for those playing along and an incredible bass player, but didn’t really write anything, though he’s an original member. But do you care? Maybe. But for most people, probably not.

So what makes a reunion? The essential players? Everyone? At least half? These are the great arguments at the end of the bar and I don’t intend to solve it right now. D’arcy or no D’arcy, that’s basically The Smashing Pumpkins up there, right? Or “Where’s Izzy?” I mean, as long as Slash and Axl are together, I feel like it’s a win. Oh hell, just play “Sweet Child O Mine” and we’ll all go home happy.

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