I recently became a HUGE Gun Club fan, thanks to my friend Nick Feratu of The Limit Club introducing me to them a few years back. He had made a bunch of compilation cds for me, and when I got to the Gun Club’s “Mother Of Earth,” it stopped me dead in my tracks.
The song absolutely haunted me, and struck a nerve on a level I can’t really explain, with it’s bleak loneliness. I was convinced whoever wrote it must have committed suicide, and I suppose in a way I was right, even if it took him years to finish the job. He may have died many years later, but “Mother Of Earth” is his suicide note. He knew he was never going to make it in this world.
I have to tell you, I have become quite obsessed with JLP.
Welcome to one of the bleakest songs ever written…the sound quality is poor, but the performance is poignant.
Jeffrey Lee Pierce
died way too young, after battling the bottle and the needle for so many years, becoming yet another rock and roll tragedy. And almost equally as tragic, he was on the verge of fading into obscurity, despite influencing bands from the Circle Jerks (Keith Morris was his roommate and named the band) to even the White Stripes, who covered “For the Love of Ivy
But now several of his lost, unfinished tracks have been dusted off and finished in his name by many of those close to him. And what a lineup it is.
01. Nick Cave – “Ramblin’ Mind”
02. Mark Lanegan – “Constant Waiting”
03. The Raveonettes – “Free To Walk”
04. Debbie Harry – “Lucky Jim”
05. Lydia Lunch – “My Cadillac”
06. David Eugene Edwards – “Ramblin’ Mind”
07. The Sadies – “Constant Waiting”
08. Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell – “Free To Walk”
09. Lydia Lunch – “St. Marks Place”
10. Crippled Black Phoenix – “Bells On The River”
11. Cypress Grove – “Ramblin’ Mind”
12. Johnny Dowd – “Constant Waiting”
13. Nick Cave & Debbie Harry – “Free To Walk”
14. Mick Harvey – “The Snow Country”
15. David Eugene Edwards & Crippled Black Phoenix – “Like A Mexican Love”
16. Lydia Lunch, Dave Alvin, And The JLP Sessions Project – “Walkin’ Down
The Street (Doin’ My Thing)”
This is an import cd, and hence, a bit pricey, but I highly recommend the investment.
From the myspace page for the project:
We Are Only Riders
is more than just a “various artists” compilation. It’s a
musical collective of artists who have come together to interpret (and in
some cases, complete) unfinished skeletal works by Jeffrey Lee Pierce, an
artist they were friends with or whose work they admired. Artists featured
on the album include Nick Cave, who has done his own solo track, as well as
duetting with Debbie Harry, and playing piano on Debbie’s solo track. Mick Harvey contributed to
two of the Nick Cave tracks and has recorded a solo track.
plays bass on the Nick Cave solo track and also on the
Mark Lanegan solo
track, who has also recorded a duet with Isobel Campbell.
Kid Congo Powers
contributed to Nick Cave and
Lydia Lunch tracks.
About three years ago while clearing out his attic, Cypress Grove
came across a bag of dusty old cassettes. He started to sort through them and found one
marked “JLP Songs”. As soon as he put it on he remembered what it was; Cypress
& Jeffrey rehearsing material for the album they made together (Ramblin’
Jeffrey Lee and Cypress Grove with Willie love”). The album was initially
going to contain country songs, but it gradually evolved into a full blown
blues album. It was recorded on an old boombox in Cypress Grove’s bedroom, just the
two of them on acoustic guitars. The sound quality was terrible, but was
good enough to make out the songs, which were excellent. The three country
songs were ‘Ramblin’ Mind’, ‘Constant Waiting’ and ‘Free To Walk’. In
addition to the terrible audio quality, there was also no level of
performance on these recordings, as Jeffrey was merely showing Cypress the
material. Releasing these songs from the cassette was therefore out of the
question. But if Cypress could get them properly recorded, that would be
different. Also, because there were no definitive versions of these songs,
and there was no idea how Jeffrey himself would have envisaged the completed
work, then why stop at one version? It would be fascinating to hear how
different artists might interpret these songs from this most basic and crude
of templates – the cassette
I make no secret that The Gun Club is not only the inspiration for naming my desert landscape series, “Ghost on the Highway,” but “Mother of Earth” is the song on heavy rotation when working on it.