Thursday, April 10, 2008



Jim White: A Town Called Amen

On the recommendation of a friend, I went alone to see a show by an unfamiliar artist called Jim White, egged on by the knowledge that he made an atmospheric BBC docu-romp about the South, 'Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.' Not that I saw that. But after the dynamite show, and his penetrating lyrics and quick witticisms between songs, I'm going to. Here's one of the songs that most pleased the standing-room only crowd at the Tractor Tavern, and me. And its lyrics:

The days of our innocence and grace blow by;
The smiles we wear upon our face blow by.
Oh, the sweet wine of youth
goes sour over time.
Seems like the more that you lose,
the more you ache to find...

A town called Amen.
Like a bright-eyed smile
from some long lost friend---
it’s a town called Amen.

Sit at the window sill,
see the children rushing by.
Come a flood of summer rain,
the strange increments of time.
How the wild engines run!
Burning shadows from our minds.
Lord, when the purging gets done,
I sure pray what’s left behind...

Is a town called Amen.
Like a bright-eyed smile
from some long lost friend---
it’s a town called Amen.
Come lay down on this bed.
Hey, close your weary eyes.
Like the clouds above our heads,
life slowly passes by.

Did you kiss the dog you love,
when you were a little child?
Will you lay in the arms of
some sweet reverie a while?

In a town called Amen.
Like a bright sunrise.
Hey, if you open up your eyes,
you’re in a town called Amen.

7 comments:

Still Life Living said...

This makes me understand who the unhappiest person in the world is:

Jonathan Richman!

He has looked over the edge and seen the abyss. You shall know the truth and the truth will freak you out.

Jim White is not unhappy. He has deduced the abyss, but remains stubbornly on his own path, refusing to go to the edge because he has faith that would be a waste of time. But he keeps his honesty and inegrety.

I was watching the movie Enchanted the other day with my daughter, and I was stunned by a line: The prince had made a proclomation of love to his intended, and a secondary character was smitten and said something to the extent "you said that completely without irony." Jim White's songs have that. They would be corney as hell if he didn't really beleive the words he says. If you take them at face value, then you find an antidote to the abyss.

The best Jim White song to demonstrate this is "Turquoise House". It is a declaration of independance if you are willing to accept your own humanity.

isabelita said...

Oh, we saw Jim White once at Bumbershoot; he's a quirky good performer.

Phil said...

(Chiming in with Is) It was at one of those off-the-grid stages at Bumbershoot. This guy was performing alone with a guitar/amp that seemed barely professional, and proceeded to completely suck us in with his irony and, you realized later, musicianship. We bought Wrong-Eyed Jesus (CD) from him as he left the stage.

Caitlin said...

Boy, sure is odd how all the reprobates come out of the blogwork after I put up one Jim White video, what with Still Life Living and the Bins all stopping by.

I bought his latest album, Transnormal Skiperoo, and have been listening to it at every opportunity.

At the Tractor he appeared most professional, with two skilled guitarists accompanying, I suspect so he could play the inflatable hand-piano. He was perfectly capable of holding the crowd enthralled all by himself. The only reason I got into the standing-room section was by showing up for the warm-up act. As he says, "a bar...is just a church...where they serve beer!"

MarcLord said...

Whoops, Lucullus blogs with Lucullus. Caitlin is me, and I am Caitlin. Didn't see blogger was logged in as my brideen, tragedy of the 'puter commons, et cetera.

Dead Last said...

So who are you? Marc Lord or Caitlin? Is Caitlin the name of your second-life tranny avatar you were telling me about?

MarcLord said...

Not a tranny. A furby.