Sunday, January 21, 2007

Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 & 2) (1977) – Television

Little Johnny Jewel was a victim of the duality: the creative icon who was “just trying to tell a vision” (pun obviously intended), encouraged to go for it without the restrictions of responsibility; the strung-out drug addict whose wealth of avant-garde ideas came at the expense of his lucidity. In this tale of an artist going vacant, Tom Verlaine champions JJ, whose drug habit has him living permanently in flux between consciousness, hallucination and dreams.

In batches of intermittent punctuation between Verlaine’s atonal yelps, Fred Smith’s drooping three-note bass riff dollops in chunky clicks over the drizzle and hiss of hi-hats and jittery kick drum palpitating with arrhythmic rapidity, as prickles of guitar teeter and lurch errantly. As the band hits its stride, Richard Lloyd’s ambling guitar chords strike a counterbalance to Verlaine’s soloing paroxysms—symptomatic manifestations of an obsessive compulsive disorder, feverishly scrubbing and scraping the fretboard clean of its notes before yielding for the moral of the story.

In the end, all Johnny Jewel wants is for us to acknowledge his sacrifice in the name of art. “[H]e’s paid the price,” the least we can do is count the cost.

  • Listen to "Little Johnny Jewel (Parts 1 & 2)" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • No comments: