RIP Pat DiNizio of the Smithereeens
Why should it matter if I cry?
I sit around and wonder why
Now I feel much too weak to live
And I’ve got nothing left to give
– Pat DiNizio “Only A Memory” –
One of the most prolific and poignant rock ‘n roll voices of my generation passed away this week and his death has quietly passed by. As sad as it was to see another iconic rock musician move on to that great gig in the sky, I was more saddened that DiNizio wasn’t widely saluted and feted the way predeceased peers have been. But truthfully, he was the kind of humble performer who would probably have been fine with that.
Our house was not a home
And we both felt alone it seems
It is empty now
Worn and broken like our dreams – House We Used to Live In
As lead singer of The Smithereens, Pat DiNizio penned a dozen Top 40 hits that spanned the 80’s and 90’s. The band stayed together for decades and remained friends, primarily because their front man was a good guy… talented, grounded and kind, not the pretentious ass that so many successful performers become.
He was an anomaly in the rock music world, and the rock ‘n roll scene is far worse without him in it.
If the sun doesn’t shine anymore
It won’t matter much, much to me
As long as you’re here by my side – If the Sun Doesn’t Shine
I grew up in New Jersey, and admittedly always had a soft spot for Jersey bands like The Smithereens. But this band was truly special. They were influenced by the iconic songwriting of The Beatles, The Byrds and The Who, but always retained just the right amount of hip, cool New Jersey swagger, darkness and snarl. Punk tendencies balanced with a tender innocence.
She was tall and cool and pretty
and she dressed as black as coal
If she asked me to I’d murder,
I would gladly lose my soul – Behind the Wall of Sleep
The band was far more than DiNizio, as Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken played together for the first 25 years of their existence. As a band, they were talented, tight and consistent, but DiNizio’s songwriting was the driving force.
I want to love but it comes out wrong
I want to live but I don’t belong – Blood and Roses
DiNizio was an average dude writing about topics that guys like him and I were dealing with every day. He was an under-appreciated voice of a generation who captured the angst, pain and yes, hope of everyone searching for that perfect someone.
People talk and people stare
Tell them I don’t really care
This is the place I should be
And if they think it’s really strange
For a girl like you to be in love with someone like me
I wanna tell them all to go to hell
That we’re doing very well without them you see
That’s just the way it is and they will see
I am yours and you are mine the way it should be
Surely, he will never get the attention that was lauded on so many of his contemporaries, but somehow, maybe that’s how it was supposed to be. All of my friends will reminisce about the big names we lost this year, but this prolific New Jersey songwriter with the perfect touch will be near the top of my list when I look back at all of the rock ‘n roll genius we lost this year.
I search the room but you’re not there
Your perfume lingers everywhere – Only A Memory
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