A SECOND GO AT GRABBING YOUR INTEREST/SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 47)

It was away back in October 2013 that I tried to get folk interested in Jonathan Fire*Eater with the posting of three tracks from Tremble Under Boomlights, the one CD of theirs that I had at the time.  The effort attracted one comment….thanks Charity Chic….and it was to say that he had enjoyed one of the songs, which funnily enough just happens to be the subject of today’s posting.

Jonathan Fire*Eater was a New York City-based indie rock band originally from Washington DC. The line-up was Stewart Lupton (vocals), Tom Frank (bass), Paul Maroon (guitar and pedal steel), Matt Barrick (drums), and Walter Martin (keyboards).

In 1995, they released their eponymous debut on Third World Underground Records, an indie label based in Arizona, and later in the year there was a three-track EP on PCP Records, which is described as an experimental/noise-rock label from NYC.

The following year, they began to get a bit of attention in the UK, thanks to them signing for Deceptive Records which had been founded by BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq, a man who many felt was a worthy 90s successor to John Peel, as well as touring as the support acts for both Blur and Pulp.

Before too long, they were snared by Dreamworks, the major sort of masquerading as an indie label newly established by David Geffen. The album Wolf Song For Lambs appeared in 1997, but the big money move was a disaster in terms of the creative edges being smoothed off and the band members falling out constantly over things.

The inevitable split came in 1998 with Paul Maroon, Matt Barrick and Walter Martin becoming three-fifths of The Walkmen while Stuart Lupton pursued his own path with The Childballads and later The Beatin’s. Bassist Tom Frank left music and has established himself as a reasonably successful journalist, writing under the name T.A. Frank, primarily for Vanity Fair and the Washington Monthly.

There were occasional murmurings of Jonathan Fire*Eater re-forming to play gigs, but they always turned out to be unfounded rumours. It’s a moot point nowadays as Stewart Lupton died on May 27, 2018 at the age of 43. No cause was given, but his family did say it stemmed from a “desperate attempt to escape the voices that so tormented him.”

I recently picked up the band’s first 45 for Deceptive, a double-A effort, both sides of which can be found on the CD mentioned earlier. It’s a bit crackly and hissy which would indicate that the previous owner really liked it and played it a fair bit. I also think the lyric for what I think is the main track makes for a great short story, of the horror variety or perhaps and episode of the X-Files which was so popular at the time:-

In every car that passes me on the street
I search for the particular face
The lipstick trembles under boomlights
The lipstick my only brothers only trace

Was the birthday birthday ashtray
Carried all along this way now
It was a gift from my little sister
On the very same day they took her away

And it’s painted cherry red, cherry red now
All your dreams are cherry red inside of your head
And it’s painted cherry red, cherry red now
All your dreams are cherry red inside

In Hollywood I got the phone call
That made my heart and my limousine stall
Falling down in the hotel hall again
Little drunk from the Warners’ Christmas ball

Cut by love and cut by switchblade
He’s been gone nearly half a decade
Cut by love then carved by switchblade
He’s been gone nearly half a decade

I still remember my brother
I see his face on the billboards
And the Polaroids that
Stayed on my pillow ’til they faded

So, lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon
Lock yourself in your hotel room

Now picture him now, sittin’ by the pool
Wearin’ a pink rubber swimming cap
Eating ice cream with the girl
With the silver curls
Sittin’ in his lap

I can still still remember my brother
I see his face on the billboards and the
Polaroids that stayed on my pillow
‘Til they faded some sad grey grey day

Yes, you are still my brother
Even when you change over so
Lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon

I pictured it all, the fangs and claws
Coarse short hair right then and there
I pictured it all now
Hey!
The fangs
The fangs and the claws now

So, lock yourself in your hotel room
I’ll take the next flight and be there by noon
Lock yourself in your hotel room

And so all things will secretly begin
To live underground after the death of a friend
Ohohhhhhh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh ohohhhh

mp3: Jonathan Fire*Eater – The Search For Cherry Red

The other side of the 45 is also worth a listen:-

mp3: Jonathan Fire*Eater – Give Me Daughters

I’m not sure what the Blur and Pulp crowds would have made of things, but they sound as if they would have gone down a storm with a Bad Seeds audience.

JC

PS : Links now sorted.  Apologies for earlier mix-up.

5 thoughts on “A SECOND GO AT GRABBING YOUR INTEREST/SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 47)

  1. Well I’m going to make sure you at least equal the last number of comments.

    I love JFE – that EP is flawless from start to finish. I don’t think the albums ever quite captured the sound and feel of it but are still worth a listen.

    As big as The Walkmen seemed to get (in indie circles) it seems most people associate them with The Rat even though their albums are so good. As are Hamilton Leithauser’s solo records.

  2. And I’ll double it….JFE were excellent. But the Walkmen were better. Although ‘tremble under boomlights’ is a seriously good listen.

  3. Thank you for letting me listen to these. Got to admit, never heard of them before. I don’t know how you manage to run the blog with so few mistakes – if only our Government were so successful (you can chose UK or Scottish to apply that to)

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