on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2011 12 Okt

Introducing Jeffrey Lewis and one of his new dream-songs

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

Ach, was für eine Überraschung in meinem Briefkasten. Der Mann von der Lower East Side war mir gänzlich unbekannt, aber nun fand sein sechstes Album seinen Weg zu mir. Die Stichwörter für Jeffrey Lewis sind: Anti-Folk (gewiss das dümmste Stichwort), Comic-Fan (er hat schon mal die Geschichte von Pocahontas erzählt und gesungen, in Comics und Noten), und gern wird kolportiert, das Jarvis Cocker (den ich für einen recht langweiligen Songschreiber halte und einen klugen Denker) Lewis für einen begnadeten Textschreiber hält und mit Superlativen nicht spart.

Nun, den Eindruck gewann ich auch beim Hören seines Albums A TURN IN THE DREAM-SONGS. Sein Sieben-Minuten-Lied über den prähistorischen grünen Schleim („Kongru Green Slime“; demnächst in den Klanghorizonten im Deutschlandfunk) wirkt wie eine bitterböse Parabel zum Kapitalismus und zur Auslöschung des Egos (wenn Samuel Beckett Comics gemacht hätte, er hätte diesen lebensfrohen Verzweiflungsspezialisten zum Wahlverwandten erkoren). Der Humor ist sophisticated und hintersinnig, was sich  leicht bei der Lektüre des nachfolgenden Liedtextes nachvollziehen lässt.

Instrumentaltechnisch ist eine erstaunliche Vielfalt auf dem Album geboten, Primitivismus bester Machart, einer hemdsärmeligen Ästhetik des schrägen Tons folgend: Musiker aus anderen Bands mit Hang zum Herrlich-Unvollkommenen begleiten Jeffrey Lewis gerne, Blockflöten und Saxophone hinterlassen Klangspuren. Ich kann nur sagen, ich höre diese „WENDUNG IN DEN TRAUMSONGS“ mit Freude, weil überall ein großer Ernst versteckt ist (selbst in den boy-meets-girl-and-it-goes-totally-wrong-Songs) und (den folgenden altbackenen Ausdruck verwende ich nur alle Ewigkeiten) überbordende Fabulierlust.


A Turn In The Dream-Songs


Water leaking, water moving water goes not of its choosing/ Waterfalls and water dropping, water has no way of stopping / Water goes down, water went into me 90 %,/ But water can´t try, never will, It´s my 10% that fights uphill / And when I´m
dead and water crawls out, till all that 90% falls out / And all that´s left are the
bones that rattled, the feet that climbed and the thoughts that battled /
That´s the part with the gift and flaws, the water just obeyed nature´s laws /
Just obey and just give in and follow where the rest have been / But I had to
fail and go be lonely just to learn I had my own way / The things I wan might
just be trouble, I might be left with only rubble / But I´ve too much confidence
to only do things that make sense / when you were young you got good grades it
always seemed that you had it made / when I was young and people liked me and
told me all the things I might be / But everything was unpredicted, who knows
what might have fixed it / And time tries to pass in a torment, but I claw
against the current / Because water´s leaking, water´s moving but water goes
not of its choosing

This entry was posted on Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2011 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Jeffrey Lewis comments:

    To Go and Return

    Sometimes a guitar part can hypnotise me, and I can keep rotating around in it until the words follow the centrifugal pull towards the edges of meaning. This is a song that allows me to be in love with sound. Unexpectedly, we had Lucy Baines of Misty’s Big Adventure stopping by our recording studio with her saxophone, and when she played it really sent the whole thing into the stratosphere for me. We played it until the tape reel ran out. That’s the sound at the end of the track, when the cello feedback stops abruptly.

    How Can It Be

    Maybe the oldest song on the album, I’ve been playing this live for about three years, but I never had a good recording of it. The crazy backing vocal arrangement is a new idea – it’s all from Dr Dog. We’ve done a lot of touring with that band, and they were kind enough to contribute these vocals. It’s a great skill they have.

    I Got Lost

    I don’t often play piano nowadays; I played more before I picked up a guitar. I’m not doing anything very fancy on the piano here, but I think this recording might be my favourite on the album. I love the piano, I love the drums, and Franic’s mandolin-playing is inspirational. Franic Rozycki is the bass player of the Wave Pictures, but secretly he’s a great mandolin player. He has a superb sense of melody and phrasing, and his approach is a big part of the sound of this record. I think many people focus on songs of mine that have lots of words, but I do also write songs with few words, and this is a few-word song.

    Boom Tube

    Every fan of Jack Kirby comics will know that a Boom Tube is a way of getting from place to place. In a house in Manchester I found a DVD player with a strange feature: it would allow you to play CDs backwards but not entirely backwards – it would play a few seconds backwards then a few seconds forwards then a few seconds backwards. That’s what I used to make this song.

    Time Trades

    The older you get, the faster time seems to go: everybody knows that. So how come people don’t wait until later in life to do things that take a long time? It would be much faster to do a three-year project when you’re 40 than when you’re 20.

    Cult Boyfriend

    Every girlfriend I’ve ever had has seemed like they’re totally insane for me, and then when I’m single nobody is interested at all. So if I’m the kind of person you either really like or have no interest in, then I’m the boyfriend equivalent of the Grateful Dead. Or maybe Phish, to be more humble. OK, OK, Insane Clown Posse.

    Krongu Green Slime

    This is all about green slime, as the title says, though it’s too sad to play live very often; even I don’t like listening to it much. It’s the best song on the album probably, in my own opinion. That’s why I left it alone, no extra instruments. This was originally written on the back of an envelope on a nine-hour bus ride from Maine to New York. I was trying to sleep but every few minutes I would think of another line and scribble it down.

    Try It Again

    This song – along with Reaching, at the end of the album – is a different kind of song for me. How Can It Be is also in this category. They’re pop songs – not something I’ve done before. They’re all short, but with musically different verse and chorus sections and nice melodies and harmonies. I guess to most people that’s what makes a song in the first place, but to me it’s something new. Try It Again, in particular, is a trickier song than I usually play, with a weird chord change, harmonised vocals in the chorus, and an electric guitar. It was difficult to teach it to my band at first, and there’s a pretty funny demo recording of it from a year or so ago – the drums and bass are totally falling apart over it because of the timing.

    When You’re By Yourself

    Food has always been charged with sorrow for me, I don’t know why. Maybe when I was young somebody hit me on the head with a stale loaf of bread or something. The sorrow of the world can be found in food – maybe because when you have food you have met your body’s needs and you are forced to realise that there’s nothing else.

    So What If I Couldn’t Take It Anymore

    I noticed that much of my past song-writing tended to sift through negative situations until I could find a way to twist them into an idea that was hopeful. But now I’ve run out of hopefulness – at least for the time being, it seems. The only thing to do is look at the despair so closely and deeply that it turns funny. It’s not exactly hope, but if I can laugh then everything is OK.

    From Draz

    A duet for snare drum and phaser pedals. I’ve got more instrumental stuff recorded, some longer things. I’d like to put out more of the instrumental material some time; it reflects some of the sounds we make as a live band and has a sense of discovery that goes beyond words. Still, I can never quite get into jazz.

    Water Leaking, Water Moving

    I kept trying to create sounds like Ira Kaplan, my favourite guitar player, but Franic advised me to think instead about what Neil Young might do. It was helpful advice.


    Annie Hart from Au Revoir Simone sang this as a duet with me. Originally, I was going to ask Diane Cluck, but she wanted to change the words and I liked it my way. Annie brought her baby to the studio; you can hear him cry in the background at one point, though it’s very quiet.

    (source: The Guardian)

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