You can't blame Harry Shearer for feeling a twinge of regret just before the release of his latest satirical album of topical songs, "Can't Take a Hint."
"Pussy Riot and 'legitimate rape' in the news in the same week?" Shearer said, his eyes widening in disbelief as he leaned back into a love seat on the enclosed porch of his longtime home near the beach in Santa Monica. "I feel a little cheated."
But like anyone who's ever worked on an album — or any creative endeavor, for that matter — he also appreciates the pragmatic wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci's famous observation that "Art is never finished, only abandoned."
The 68-year-old comedian — who's also, among other things, a voice actor (
While his previous musical ventures include 2008's "Songs of the Bushmen," which had fun with
Then there's his ode to media mogul
"Can't Take a Hint" was recorded with help from guests, including
"To me, an album never really takes on a shape until after it's done and settled," Shearer said. "But this feels kind of like a little variety show, where I have various guests come to the mike to do these little ditties of mine."
There's also an impressive variety to each of his mini-commentaries, from the Sinatra-Basie-esque big-band swing of "A Few Bad Apples" to the country funk-cum-hip-hop grind of "Touch My Junk" to the a cappella doo-wop-meets-Gregorian chant of "Deaf Boys."
Shearer himself plays bass on many of the tracks — he wasn't just pretending in his role as Derek Smalls, Spinal Tap's trapped-in-a-giant-seedpod bassist in
Asked how he determines which subjects best lend themselves to satirical songs rather than comedic bits on his weekly radio program "Le Show," satirical pieces he writes for various outlets or videos posted on his Internet forum "My Damn Channel," Shearer said it typically comes down to one thing: "It's words.
"I have to have singable words or phrases," he said. "Like with the
"And then there's the Bridge to Nowhere," he said, referring to his song on which Owen offers her best
"Apart from its political connotation," he said, "the phrase is one you can just roll around in your mouth, it has so many associations."
After the first of the year, he plans to embark on a tour supporting the album. His previous two CDs were nominated for
When the subject came up, it wasn't "The Simpsons" that Shearer quoted, even though the show on which he has long provided voices for billionaire Montgomery Burns, his lackey personal assistant Waylon Smithers and a host of other characters has periodically taken potshots at the music industry award ceremony.
Instead, he draws from "For Your Consideration," the 2006 mock film documentary about awards shows, directed by his Spinal Tap and "A Mighty Wind" cohort
"As my character in 'For Your Consideration' said, 'It was an honor just to be almost nominated,'" Shearer said. "I really hate to quote myself, but there you go."