[Jandek] Re: Mahogany Brain / Godz

djobe at uark.edu djobe at uark.edu
Fri Jun 11 15:27:00 PDT 2004

Hey Daniel (et al),

Thanks for the thoughtful response.  Funny, I had some second thoughts on my own comments after posting them - and what should come my way afterward but an ad (of sorts) for a Jandek lunchbox! My frustration at my beloved Residents, btw, comes from a recent posting from Residents HQ requesting votes for the next Residents product, at which point i realized that the Residents were making more "product" these days than music - sort of like a Kiss for Outsider music! If this earns them enough money to keep going on, more power to them I guess, but I still find it frustrating that an act who once recorded an album (Not Available) with the purpose that its music would be most true were it never released (it was not released by the group, but by its former management when 'Eskimo' wasn't delivered on time) and who did music the way they did as I think Jandek did it, and you put better than me - not to be "intentionally obscure" but to be unaffected by anything other than their own
 desires as artists.  Does this make sense?  Interestingly, the ESP label (which employed the Godz, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, the Holy Modal Ramblers, and others of similar minds) was all about this.  no commericalism, all art.  Naturally, it folded fast.

I agree 100% with what you're saying about Jandek's "art before the artist." Very well put.  The Godz, curiously enough, were also making "folk" music, and you should hear it.  The similarity between it and some of Jandek's stuff is phenomenal.  Anyone else?
That this could be entirely coincidental, given the kind of music this is, is quite possible.  I would note, however, that like Jandek the Godz were awful unpredictable.

Anyway, enough for now... (and hey Daniel, don't I remember you from Swans list years ago, when it was fruitful?  I've always respected your opinion.  Good to see you here)

as ever,


----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Marks <alfredggnome at yahoo.com>
Date: Wednesday, June 9, 2004 10:57 pm
Subject: Re: [Jandek] Re: Mahogany Brain / Godz

> I don't know how sure we can be that Jandek was
> influenced by these obscure people. Seems from his
> lyrics that he's into mostly mainstream stuff like the
> blues and popular musicians like Dylan, who he refers
> to a couple times; the Zappa quote is as out there as
> he seems to get. I don't think he was ever trying to
> create obscurist music. It's more that he was just
> doing what he thought expressed his words the best.
> Note how eagar he is to play normal blues throughout
> the famed middle period. Of course, I could be wrong,
> he might have a huge outsider music collection (I've
> never heard the Godz or any outsiders aside from
> Jandek). 
> I've just always thought these "outsider" guys were
> each in their own worlds, and we lump them together as
> "outsider" even though they're all different, being
> different is the only thing they have in common. How 
> is that for a paradox!
> A lot of people say Jandek's success with anonymity is
> impressive, but he's not totally anonymous. He wants
> people to hear the music, but only to the extent that
> he can stay secret. If he really wanted everything to
> be a secret, he would never have pressed the records.
> Heck, my band is more non-commerical than Jandek if
> you look at it like that. We haven't put out a record
> yet! I'm reminded of the Malkmus quote. "Why would
> anyone who's serious about music want to stay
> unknown?" I don't think it actually applies to Jandek.
> Sterling (?) wants Jandek to be known, just not the
> man behind it. What's truly impressive is his absolute
> dedication to the "art before the artist" concept.
> He's pretty much unique in that area. Can you think of
> an artist or group who's surpassed him in that regard?
> You also said he's different from the Shaggs because
> they believed they were brilliant. He must have
> thought his stuff was pretty hot too. He rambled
> excitedly about it in the Chusid letter, and once
> again the mere fact that he printed it up shows he had
> some ambition. Given, the Shaggs thought they were
> making "pop" music, Jandek had never had that
> delusion.
> At the same time, he's not some loner. He had friends
> and a job, etc. Just a normal guy with a strange
> hobby. Does it really make him a better or "truer"
> musician if he doesn't have keychains? Heck, the
> Beatles had every piece of merchandise known to man,
> but they were still great songwriters. As long as the
> music stays priority number one, I'm cool with
> anything an artist wants to do to promote himself or
> herself.
> --- djobe at uark.edu wrote:
> > Neat, Josh.  I've got to say that's a new one.  For
> > those newer to the list who've never heard my rant
> > about them, pick up the first two Godz albums
> > (sounding really great on the remastered ESP
> > editions from 3 years ago or so).  It's hard not to
> > see some influence on Jandek, and probably on
> > Mahogany Brain (though the Godz can rock too - check
> > out "radar eyes" on Godz 2, one of the best garage
> > rockers ever).
> > 
> > 
> > That said, one thing I'll argue in Jandek's favor
> > that I can't with most other "outsider" artists is
> > his ambition.  this to me is what separates him from
> > the truly insane, the "one hit wonders" found on the
> > Key of Z discs, for instance. Or my beloved Shooby
> > Taylor, who did one thing very very well, if that's
> > your thing... Lucia Pamela could never have been
> > anything but what she was.  "Progress" was
> > impossible.  Even Daniel Johnston, my favorite
> > songwriter of the "outsiders," only advances with
> > the help of others, a help Jandek has denied himself
> > by his self-imposed obscurity.  Which leads me to an
> > old point - like the Godz and the Fugs (get their
> > second album) Jandek is NOT an outsider artist in
> > the demented sense.  He's not a Syd Barrett or Skip
> > Spence who withered away and left us fractured
> > recordings of their mental demise.  He's not the
> > Shaggs, believing they were brilliant when they
> > couldn't even play.  He's doing this
> > intentionally,and he's progressing!  Each album, to
> >  me, is a very deliberate release, and unlike the
> > similarly anonymous Residents, he doesn't bother
> > with a website and fucking keychains (keychains!) to
> > promote his music.  No DVDs, no t-shirts, just his
> > music as he sees it.  If you like it, great. If not,
> > oh well. This is the ambition of a great artist, and
> > I love it about the guy.
> > 
> > Okay, my usual spiel, but sometimes I like to toss
> > that out again.
> > 
> > Put "Blue Corpse" up on my faves as well, btw.  It
> > really is something. Get the vinyl if you can.  
> > 
> > Can't wait to hear this new album!  One of the great
> > things with Jandek is that like Neil Young, you
> > never know what the hell you're going to get. I love
> > this guy.
> > 
> > blabbing in Arkansas,
> > 
> > Danen
> > 
> > > Has anyone out there heard the French group from
> the
> > early 70ıs called
> > ³Mahogany Brain²  ????
> > 
> > I just found a cd of their called ³Smooth Sick
> > Lights² and I canıt believe
> > how much it resembles JANDEK...
> >     rambling guitars,drum, vocals.... Letting the
> > songs kind of crumble and
> > pull back together.
> > Really interesting stuff. Iım amazing a label in the
> > early 70ıs released
> > this stuff.
> > 
> > I wonder if Jandek owns a record by this group and
> > is influenced. I am
> > really serious. 
> > This band is really similar.
> > 
> > Info here at Forced Exposure, (Iım surprised they
> > donıt mantion Jandek in
> > the write up)
> >
> http://www.forcedexposure.com/artists/mahogany.brain.html
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