Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Oliver: Jonestown - Baby (9 February 1992)
Well, this is a weirdie and no mistake. Peel was very impressed by this Minnesota five-piece's debut (and only) album, All Day Sucker from which this track is taken. In listening to it, I hear echoes in the future of Aerial Pink's Haunted Graffiti track, Interesting Results. I hear an improvement on Don't Want to be Grant McClennan by Smudge, the last selection on this blog to consider the agonies of the creative process. And I also hear in patches, the spirit of The Fall, especially in the second verse with its talk of "Repa - Repetition".
It starts out asking us to consider the paradox of the singer-songwriter, which it's worth remembering in the early 90s was still seen as the preserve of artists ahead of pop stars. I mean you never saw Tracy Chapman or Tanita Tikaram headlining Wembley Stadium back then. But for our narrator here, that 15 minutes of fame has been a pleasant surprise, which the ego is not yet ready to let go, even if it means being locked into creative repa-repetition by it. Then we career unsteadily into the television studios demanding that the singer deliver his cliche ridden chorus on cue. I love the shrieking harmonica which sounds like the fame juggernaut heading down the tracks at full speed, it's train horn blaring a warning to get out of the way or let yourself get mown down. But escape is impossible. Attempts to run back to dreams of obscurity constantly frustrated by those Fender bar bursts that sound like cartoon characters having their braces caught in those incredibly pliant wire fences that give and give and give until....tension reclaims the escaping figure and springs it back into the world it simultaneously craves and fears. Eventually, our narrator hears his track playing to him in an elevator. And up and up the elevator goes...but this isn't Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we end on a rather odd note of regret, recrimination and confusion. Just what exactly is "in the back"?
Not related as far as I can tell to The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Video courtesy of Irresponsableful.