By Jacob Katel
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Val Kilmer has been a lot of things — Batman, Iceman, bloated — but he remains a renaissance man. The classically trained actor has done David Mamet and Shakespeare, and has even released a book of poetry. (Used copies of the rare tome, My Edens After Burns, go for upward of a grand on Amazon.) Now he's preparing an album, his first, if you don't count an Eighties-era, impossible-to-find EP released under the name Nick Rivers, his rock star character in Top Secret.
The upcoming disc was written with a friend named Mick Rossi and will be called Val Kilmer, Sessions with Mick. On his MySpace music page, Kilmer says it's coming soon, and he has even handed out copies at recent personal appearances. He's got 18 songs available for purchase, and some can be heard for free — go to www.myspace.com/valekilmermusic.
The influences of Neil Young, Elton John, and his friend Sean Lennon can be heard on the tunes, which are pretty insane — that is, the ones that aren't utterly inane. The opera-trained Juilliard grad certainly has the pipes, and his mostly acoustic guitar tunes are often hummable.
Unfortunately his songwriting leaves a bit to be desired. "One more mortal has let me down," he sings on "True Friend." "I'm alone with my rhyming in an unknown town/Alone with poetry and foreign football on hotel television/Text message from a troubled kept woman." "Christmas Is Calling" and "All Children Are Beautiful" are completely sincere odes to Christ's birthday and, yes, beautiful children. ("All children are beautiful. All. Yes all. All.")
Kilmer originally learned to play guitar for Top Secret, and went on to do his own singing in The Doors. Reportedly the band's surviving members had trouble differentiating his voice from Jim Morrison's.
Kilmer didn't respond to numerous requests for comment, but this summer he seems to have gotten deadly serious about his original music. He joined distribution service Snocap, he posts to his MySpace blog regularly, and his fans have put together music videos of his songs featuring photos and clips from his movies. (They can be seen on YouTube and his MySpace page.)
Who knows how far Kilmer will take his singing and songwriting interests, although they undoubtedly offer refuge from an increasingly combustible film career. But far be it from us to rain on whatever parade this idiosyncratic icon feels like marching in. In fact, in lieu of trying to understand what goes on in his blond head, we'll just let Kilmer speak for himself via a song called "Pigtails":
"I been growing sideways/I been growing thin/I been a zombie all day/I been preventing sin/I been knowing Jack the Ripper/I been doing coin tricks/I been smelling dirty slippers/I been seaside with an oil slick."
You can be our wingman anytime, Val.