Johnny Dowd je čovjek koji spada među one rijetke kantautore što unatoč eklektičnom i neuobičajenom stilu ipak zadržavaju svoj nativni identitet, a rezultat sukoba tradicionalnog i modernističkog jest jedan od najoriginalnijih izričaja u suvremenoj glazbi.
Johnny Dowd je rođen 29. ožujka 1948. u Forth Worthu, Texas. Tako započinje praktički svaki tekst kojemu je cilj ukratko ili poduže proanalizirati život i stvaralaštvo dotične persone. No, navikli ste na pomaknutu strukturu ovih ‘najava’, i znate da autoru napisa nipošto nije cilj prepisivati sa wikipedije, niti iznositi općepoznate kronološke činjenice ionako dostupne u relevantnoj literaturi, tek uz napomenu kako su česte poredbe s Waitsom i Caveom apsurdne koliko i Dowdovi stihovi. Pokušajmo onda krenuti od geografske odrednice.
Već i ptice na grani znaju da je savezna država Texas zadnjih desetljeća iznjedrila ponajbolje američke kantautore; od Townesa Van Zandta, Willie Nelsona i Krisa Kristoffersona, preko Guy Clarka, Steve Earlea, Lyle Lovetta, Rodney Crowella, Jimmy Dale Gilmorea, Roberta Earla Keena, Billy Joe Shavera, pa do Scotta H. Birama i Justina Townesa Earlea – da spomenemo tek neke elemente te bogate lepeze.
No, ime Johnnyja Dowda se vrlo rijetko spominje u tom zemljopisnom kontekstu. Razlog tomu dijelom (no, uskoro ćete shvatiti – tek dijelom!) jest činjenica da je dotični još u djetinjstvu započeo onaj sveamerički proces mijenjanja lokacija i saveznih država – između ostalog, do pete je godine života već živio u Tennesseeju i Oklahomi. Neko je vrijeme boravio i u Kaliforniji, a u Memphis se vraća 1965., nakon razvoda roditelja, a te da bi se na koncu skrasio u gradiću Ithaca, New York.
Srećom, stara poslovica kaže da možeš potjerati stvorenje iz Texasa, ali nikad iz njega u potpunosti izbiti, istjerati taj čudnovati duh kojeg teksašani upiju rođenjem. Rekli bi pravnici, Iur Sole – pravo rodnog Sunca! Ipak, Johnny Dowd se po nečemu bitno razlikuje od imena navedenih na početku teksta.
Svi su oni, naime, stvorili prepoznatljiv stil temeljen na folku, countryju, bluesu ili pak kombinacijama navedenih utjecaja u varijabilnim omjerima. To se u određenom može reći i za Johnnyja Dowda, konkretno za njegovu ranu fazu, kada je djelovao unutar sastava Jokers s početka osamdesetih, te Neon Baptist ranih devedesetih. No, Wrong Side of Memphis (1997.), prvi uistinu samostalni album, odnosno rad koji je sada potpisan isključivo imenom Johnny Dowd donosi poprlilično drugačiju zvučnu sliku. Kompozicije izlaze iz očekivanih okvira često balansirajući na rubu prihvatljivosti, barem kada je o tradicionalnim okvirima riječ. Dowdova je nastupna ploča prožeta mračnom tematikom tipičnog southern gothica, i potpisnika ovih redaka podsjeća na Williama Faulknera u luđačkoj košulji. Može i ovako – zamislite da se radnja romana To Kill a Mockingbird spisateljice Harper Lee odvija u paralelnom svemiru gdje američki Jug utjelovljuje nekoliko zadnjih krugova pakla, i gdje Scout u naletu ludila spaljuje Boo Radleyja u krušnoj peći… jeste li vizualizurali? Onda vjerojatno polako naslućujete ambijent ‘pogrešne strane Memphisa’. Nižu se balade o ubojstvima, griješnicima i prokletstvu: Welcome Jesus, John Deere Yeller, Idle Conversation, Ft. Worth; Texas, Ballad of Frank and Jessee James, Papa Oh Papa…, skladbe tek prividno odjevene u klasično folk/country ruho, jer sama struktura pjesama u simbiozi sa neortodoksnim izborom instrumenata – sintetizator, između ostalih – kreira sasvim neočekivan i isčašen doživljaj. Možda je opus kantautora Jima Whitea, koji djelovanje započinje otprilike u isto vrijeme (i s kojim će Dowd 2006. ostvariti suradnju na projektu Hellwood) najbliža poredba?
Ovo definitivno stoji, jer štoviše, Dowd će odigrati bitnu rolu u dokumentarcu Searching for a Wrong-Eyed Jesus, nadrealnoj priči o američkom Jugu koja je 2003. nastala kao plod suradnje scenarista Steve Haismana i redatelja Andrewa Douglasa, a po motivima Whiteova albuma Mysterious Tale of how I shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Scena u brijačnici je doslovice antologijska, kao i Dowdova izvedba pjesme Murder, sirovog dvoakordnog bluesa kojeg Johnny izvodi pod sivim nebom na groblju automobila.
Ukoliko je Wrong Side of Memphis najavio Dowdovu samostalnu karijeru, predstavivši već poznatog autora u novom, prigušenijem svjetlu, album Pictures from the Life’s other Side ide korak dalje. Ovdje Johnny već okuplja prateći sastav, koji ga uz određene iznimke prati i dan danas (primjerice na trenutačnoj europskoj turneji koja, očekivano, zaobilazi morlačke krajeve), što mu omogućuje daljnja eksperimentiranja u zvuku. Iskreno, jeste li sposobni predočiti teksaškog kantautora čije se kompozicije mogu obilježiti jazz festivale, ili se pak provući kroz tipičnu funky, pa i hip-hop DJ listu, svejedno ostajući u nativnoj folk domeni?
Albumi koji se nižu čitav novi milenij (spomenimo tek Temporary Shelter, Pawnbroker’s Wife i Cemetry Shoes), zaključno sa dva zasad posljednja koji se taman promoviraju u našem sjevernom susjedstvu (No Regrets i Do the Gargon) možda i ne donose nekakav primjetan napredak u odnosu na očekivani Dowdov zvuk, no to i nije nešto čemu bi trebalo prigovoriti, pošto je njegov opus u cijelosti već pomaknut iz songwriterskog mainstreama. Istina, na pojedinim se ostvarenjima Johnny u određenoj mjeri vraća klasičnom izričaju (klasičnom u smislu kompatibilnosti s ljudima čija imena, ponavljam, bodu oči na početku ovog napisa), no to su rijetki trenuci opuštanja, pošto će se on već narednim albumom vratiti u vlastite vode spajanja naizgled nespojivog.
O Dowdu ne treba pisati litanije, pošto je njegov štih potrebno (i jedino moguće) doživjeti slušnim čulom. Stoga se, štovani slušatelji, udostojite preslušati mali, dvosatni izbor iz opusa ovog vrhunskog i neobičnog kantautora, jer ćete samo tako biti u stanju donijeti osobni objektivni sud. A Dowdov je opus itekako vrijedan temeljitog preslušavanja, posebno ukoliko spadate u skupinu puritanaca koji s prezirom i gnušanjem gledaju na suživot tradicionalnog i eksperimentalnog. Jer, u tom bi slučaju Johnnyjeve skladbe mogle na Vas djelovati iscjeliteljski i prosvjetiteljski!
24/02/2017 autor: Vjeran Stojanac
Johnny Dowd is a man who is one of those rare songwriter that despite the eclectic and unusual style still retain their native identity, a result of the conflict of traditional and modernist is one of the most original expressions in contemporary music.
Johnny Dowd was born on 29 March 1948 in Forth Worth, Texas. So begins practically every text aimed at short or lengthy analyze the life and creativity of the respective persona. Well, you’re used to the shifted structure of these ‘announcements’, and you know that the author of the inscription is by no means objective rewritten from wikipedia, or removed from the generally known chronological facts already available in the relevant literature, only noting that the frequent comparisons with Waits and Cave absurd as the Dowd verses. Then try to start from the geographical determinants.
Even the birds in the trees know that the state of Texas last decade has seen the best of American singer-songwriter; of Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, over Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Rodney Crowell, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Robert Earl Keen, Billy Joe Shaver, to Scott H. Biram and Justin Townes Earle – to name only some elements of this rich array.
However, the name of Johnny Dowd is rarely mentioned in the geographic context. The reason for this part (well, you’ll soon realize – just part!) Is that it is concerned in childhood began the all-American process of changing locations and states – among other things, to the fifth year of life already lived in Tennessee and Oklahoma. For a while he lived in California, and Memphis returns in 1965, after his parents’ divorce, and this in order to end up settling in the town of Ithaca.
Fortunately, the old adage says that you can chase the creature from Texas, but never out of it completely knocked out, flush out the strange spirit that Texans are absorbed by birth. They said to the lawyers, Yur Sole – right gender of the Sun! However, Johnny Dowd at something essentially different from the names listed at the beginning of the text.
All of them, in fact, created a distinctive style based on folk music, of country, blues, or combinations of these influences in variable proportions. This is in particular can be said for Johnny Dowd, specifically for its early stage, when it acted within the band Jokers from the beginning of the eighties and early nineties Neon Baptist. But the Wrong Side of Memphis (1997), the first truly solo album, or work that is now signed exclusively named Johnny Dowd brings poprlilično different sound image. The compositions out of the expected framework often balancing on the edge of acceptability, at least in the traditional framework of the word. Dowd’s next board imbued with dark themes typical southern gothic, and the author of these lines reminiscent of William Faulkner in a straitjacket. Can this – imagine that the action of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird writer Harper Lee takes place in a parallel universe where the American South embodies the past few circles of hell, and where Scout coming madness burned Boo Radleyja in a baker’s oven … are you vizualizurali? Then slowly I suspect probably ambience ‘wrong side of Memphis. Lined with ballads of murder, sinners and a curse: Welcome Jesus, John Deere Yeller, Idle Conversation, Ft. Worth; Texas, Ballad of Frank and James Jessee, Papa Oh Papa …, tracks only seemed dressed in classic folk / country attire, because the very structure of the songs in symbiosis with unorthodox choice of instruments – synthesizer, among others – creates a completely unexpected and disjointed experience. Perhaps opus songwriter Jim White, who action begins around the same time (which is to Dowd 2006. collaborate on the project Hellwood) closest comparison?
This definitely stands, because in fact, Dowd will play an important role in the documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, surreal tale of the American South, which in 2003 occurred as a result of the collaboration screenwriter Steve Haisman and director Andrew Douglas, but the motifs White’s album Mysterious Tale of how I shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus. The scene in the barbershop is literally anthology, and Dowd rendition of Murder, raw dvoakordnog blues by Johnny performed under a gray sky in the cemetery car.
If the Wrong Side of Memphis announced Dowdovu solo career, presenting already known authors in the new, muted light, the album Pictures from Life’s Other Side goes a step further. Here Johnny already gathers backing band, who with certain exceptions monitors today (such as the current European tour, which, as expected, bypasses Morlacki regions), allowing it to further experimentation in sound. Honestly, are you able to visualize the Texas singer-songwriter whose compositions can celebrate jazz festivals, or they slip through the typical funky, and hip-hop DJ list, still remaining in the native folk domain?
Albums that can lower the entire new millennium (just to mention the Temporary Shelter, Pawnbroker’s Wife and Cemetry Shoes) ended with two for now last who just promote our northern neighborhood (No Regrets and Do the Gargon) may not bring a noticeable improvement over the expected Dowdov sound, but it’s not something we should complain, since his work as a whole has already shifted from songwriterskog mainstream. True, the individual achievements of the Johnny to some extent restores classic expression (a classic in terms of compatibility with people whose names, I repeat, stinging eyes at the beginning of this article), but these are rare moments of relaxation, as it will be on the next album already back in their own water connecting seemingly incompatible.
O Dowd does not need to write a litany, after his flair required (and only available) experience auditory sense. Therefore, honored listeners, deign to listen to a small, two-hour selection from the oeuvre of this excellent and unusual singer-songwriter, because only thus be able to make a personal objective court. A Dowdov work was well worth a thorough listening, especially if you belong to a group of Puritans who with contempt and disgust view the coexistence of traditional and experimental. Because, in this case Johnny’s songs could you act on healing and enlightenment!
– Translation by Google
Disco Sausage – a film about Johnny Dowd
Dutch singer Mark Lotterman filmed Johnny Dowd when they were on tour in the UK last year. He turned it into mini-documentary. Disco Sausage catches him on the road and on stage, leading a shoestring rock ‘n ‘roll life style, doing interviews and trying to find the place where is supposed to sleep. Lotterman and Dowd are good friends and it shows in this labour of love. The title comes from an impression of a sausage routine that Johnny came up with during one of the shows.
Johnny will be on tour in Europe in October, promoting his latest album Execute American Folklore. Park Doing is the support act for the first two weeks (October 12 through 23) of his European tour and Mark Lotterman got the call for the final week (October 24 through 30).
Special thanks to Herman Straalman for generously supplying us with photos!
supported by Park Doing
2 concerts in Germany. + + + +
With a new plate which bears the title: “Execute American Folklore”, we look forward to that. + + +
Still one of my favorite albums + + +
Live it is always a surprise what Johnny brings to the stage. As support there is ambient electronic experimental folk music of Park Doing. + + +
Sounds NEM oblique Friday night ??? ooooh Yes
The Texan musician Johnny Dowd represents years almost single-handedly earth dark side of the country. As one of Willie Nelson gothic variant sings and he discusses his life and suffering in texts that are sometimes straightforward, sometimes absurd, but usually both. Like his literary counterpart Charles Bukowski he debuted late: not until his fiftieth he released his first solo album. On his album No Regrets (2012) Dowd treated several women in his life – constant innovator who he is – he put his strength in numbers with electronic beats. And now latest album That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse (2015), he crosses yet another middle finger to all prefabricated wannabe-a-lookalike bands where the music industry is so rich, since the invention of the wax cylinder …
Supporting act during (much of) the tour is creative folk centipede Park Doing. Originating from the brutal caverns of the punk rock he never afraid to return, and leave as easily fixed and familiar paths as he walks. Adventure still exists, and Park Doing proves that – at a gallop!
(In English: Park uses looped live vocals and guitar, beats, atmospheric sounds, morse code, and other samples to create a very cool experimental folk music He started out as a punk rocker, playing at the famous CBGB and Bowery Ballroom in New. York. His current musical project is the space folk opera, “Woody Guthrie Meets the Sun”)
Photos: Cat Dalton
A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 23, 2016
* Execute American Folklore by Johnny Dowd. You might not hear any obvious similarities between The Handsome Family and Dowd, but both appeared in a wonderful 2003 documentary by musician Jim White called Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.
Dowd, in fact, was touted as “alternative country” when his first album was released in the late ’90s. The first time I saw him live was at a party for No Depression magazine at the famed Austin honky-tonk the Broken Spoke.
But the only thing that sounds remotely country about Dowd on his last several albums is his Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, drawl.
This new album is much closer to hip-hop or electronica — though commercial radio stations devoted to those formats are no more likely to play this album than is your basic hot new country station. And some songs are infused with Latin touches (what might be described as a Martian mambo) or even metal. Truth be told, Johnny Dowd doesn’t really sound much like anyone but Johnny Dowd.
And I happen to love that sound. Here Dowd himself plays all the instruments — except the instrument named Anna Coogan, who sings background vocals on several songs and lead vocals on one. Dowd mostly speaks rather than sings his lyrics.
There are some doozies on Execute American Folklore. He dedicates the ultra funky “Last Laugh” to his mother, “a union maid if ever there was one.” In the song, however, his mom is a call girl. But the story, laced with Biblical imagery, actually deals with some bitter loser — lots of Dowd protagonists fall into this category — plotting unspecified revenge against those who have wronged him.
“Sexual Revolution” is not about the joy of sex. Dowd recites a tale of a frustrated man whose cheating wife leaves him in a sad world where “pornographic fantasies infect my brain, filling me up with guilt and shame.”
Then in the deceptively upbeat “Whiskey Ate My Brain,” the singer catalogs his physical and mental deterioration. “Cancer ate my liver, God’s an Indian giver … Cocaine ate my nose, I can’t smell the roses.”
Coogan steps out front in “Brains-a-flame,” which sounds like Dowd has been listening to the old Brazilian psychedelic Tropicália band Os Mutantes. She sings about her dream man who “chain-smokes my heart three packs a day/He’s like a bad habit who won’t go away.”
In the closing track, “A World Without Me,” built on the classic “Louie Louie”/”Hang on Sloopy” hook, Dowd muses about the fact that memories of his life will quickly fade.
But the song only makes me fantasize about archaeologists in a future century stumbling across a cache of Dowd albums, prompting them to write surreal theories about life in the early 21st century.
Some videos for yas
Here’s “Gold” from The Handsome Family. This one has some nice footage of East Central in Albuquerque.
Another favorite from Unseen
Here’s some live Johnny Dowd with his latest band The Sex Robots. (You might want to skip the first 20 seconds or so. Weird buzz before the song starts.) Despite what the YoutTube title says, this is “Whisky Ate My Brain.”
Anna Coogan steps out front with “Brains A Flame.”
And just for the heck of it, here’s the trailer for Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.
Steve called it right-It’s Whiskey Ate My Brain on the Execute CD. But in our defense:
On the other hand, poor editing of the video has no excuse but ignorance. Any one want to lend a hand?
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