20 March 2009

just a few

Hey pals! Today's pretty brief - most of the J* artists I pulled out are from what you might call "a little before my time", and I don't feel right saying much. It seems as though people assume I'm somehow magically an expert on everyone I mention, but I know nothing compared to most of you when it comes to the true rock era. Ha ha, you're old ;-)

The Jackson 5 - hmmm... Better than any of them solo? Who knows. If so, blame it on the boogie.

Jaco Pastorius - maybe partially responsible for the start of fusion jazz? He played bass for Weather Report for a while, among others, but I prefer his crazy "solo" work, by far.

A little back story: Jaco was, surprise, a bass player. His defining moment to me was prying the metal frets out of his electric bass and smoothing out the fretboard, making his own fretless bass (that he slowly destroyed over the span of his career). That's hardcore. He borderline abused the slidey tricks available without frets, as everyone should, but he was also ridiculously good at the technicalities of jazz, as well as a master at complicated harmonics (see "Portrait of Tracy").

Anyway, I guess that pretty well describes his music style. With the "help" of lots of drugs, he made some impressive, mind-bending sounds, and has no doubt inspired the destruction of many a bass guitar.

I remember trying to learn some Jaco songs - after all, my first bass was indeed a fretless (mostly Les' fault). Let me summarize by clarifying further: wow, he was good.

Jalopy Art Murder - continuing the "John's cronies" series, j-a-m is another Emily creation. This won't help at all, but it sounds kind of like a cross between Portishead and CocoRosie... Find them/her on MySpace. I have some skilled friends.

James Brown - one of the original nonsense yellers! He might qualify as a foundation of funk, but I'm not so sure. He's famous for 1) cranking out an endless supply of hits, 2) being a total jerk. But, what would the world be like if he hadn't kicked Bootsy Collins out of his band??

Janis Joplin - raspy ole Janis. I'll give her credit for being one of the most famous protesty folkers. Someone please get her a Benz already.

Also, was she the first to do "Me and Bobby McGee"? Or was it bizarro country master Roger Miller?

Jay and the Americans - come a little bit closer, there, Jose. What a weird song. Why did he run through the window? What kind of cafe is this?? Is Jay implying he's not American??? Oldies are awesome. That song ("Come a Little Bit Closer", their only hit that I know of) was definitely a van staple.

Jerry Lee Lewis - goodness gracious, another in the van bombing soundtrack.

Or, as Robot Chicken would say in a Flintstones parody, "my goodness cretaceous!"

Jerry Reed - to those my age, Mr. Reed is probably only known for "Amos Moses", if that... Yay, early bluegrass. Reminds me of Charlie Daniels quite a bit, except more humorous. Make it count, son!

Bonus for Primus covering the aforementioned "hit", and bonus bonus for having the Primus cover be somehow less funny.

Jethro Tull - classic/prog rockers responsible for Aqualung, a pile of other not-so-popular albums, and their ubiquitous flute lead. Though we think highlighting the flute is an odd thing to do in current "rock", it was even further out there in the Tull days... Thanks for clearing a path for Karl Denson, I guess? Rather, thanks for pushing multiple envelopes at once.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - speaking of envelope-pushing, here you go! There's nothing I can say to do Jimi justice. Some of the best musicians are lefties, eh?

John Williams - composer extraordinaire. Overlooking the vast majority of his work, I give him infinite credit for creating hours of instantly-recognizable music for the Star Wars movies; fans intrinsically know their entire soundtracks, but even Star Wars haters (or the completely SW-agnostic) are familiar with the various themes.

On top of the infinite credit already earned, tack on some extra for leading me to waste hours on the piano and xylophone learning the "Cantina Band" music, and a bit more for inspiring Buckethead to do the same on the gee-tar. Time well spent.

Johnny Cash - ick! Go find his cover of The Beatles' "In My Life" and Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt". Hurt, indeed.

Johnny Rivers - mostly known for "Secret Agent Man", but also a high profile victim of the rockin' pneumonia... Both of those earned permanent spots in the van CD changer, to be ruined by a crowd of high schoolers for years.

Your turn! I'm waiting for some killer Hendrix stories. Hand 'em over.


  1. Wikipedia (praise its name) says Roger Miller or possibly Gordon Lightfoot recorded it first, but everyone knows country legend Kris Kristofferson wrote it.

    As for J's, I will have to write a small post on my own terrible blog.

  2. Jason Mraz is one of my favorites J's! I've seen him in concert 3 times now and I love him more every time I see him. And to boot, he writes most of his own songs....always a noteworthy trait since not every musician does.