[Jandek] Raining Down Diamonds

Danen D. Jobe djobe at uark.edu
Sat Aug 20 22:47:55 PDT 2005

I'm sitting at my computer giving "Raining Down Diamonds" another spin and I gotta say that it's hitting me tonight in the way Jandek's albums do sometimes - first listen it seemed little different than some of the last few albums (except that his voice DOES seem a little younger? Maybe?) Now it's hitting me. It is actually quite different than the previous set of albums (particularly "I Threw You Away" - "When I Took That Train")

The first significant difference is announced by the cover art (and title, after a sort): it is his religious album.  Not, mind you, that there haven't been religious themes in his music but never like this.  And I wouldn't pin it on any one religion, just that this seems to be him coming to terms with whatever he sees out there.  He talks about being in the cave (again) on the first song but being drawn out by something spectacular.  Every song after that continues to explore the theme of the divine (well, "the ancients" is kinda weird, but why not food gods?  I'm all for a religion of the food gods!!!). The recent albums (except Glasgow Sunday) prior to this have all had the same "I've got her, we're in love, now she left me, I feel like shit, I'm so goddamn alone in hurts" theme.  I think a major romance has been dealt with and he's really feeling the loneliness.  He's sung a lot about that lately - doing the wash, going for walks, sitting around and thinking, basically. 
 Now he's inspired, but this time not by a woman.  

I at least fairly certain that the last 2 shows were recorded after this and what I know of them is that the lyrics are down again.  So could this have been a phase?  A way to deal with the pain of the mundane before being drug back in it - a brief sojurn into the mystic?

Next week's show(s) will answer this a bit (I swear I will commit to memory as much lyrically at Austin as I can). Heck, we may have five new albums being recorded over the next two months!  I'm curious to see how his life has changed in the last year. His simply releasing this at this time may be a clue.

Anyway these are just some thoughts on this album which has been overshadowed considerably by the live shows and the fact that releases show up so frequently nowadays.  It's easier, especially if the album doesn't jump right at you, to put his newer records aside and not revisit them.  But I'll argue just a touch against an earlier thread - these are interesting albums, and "Raining Down Diamonds" is one of the most interesting.  Something different: "the steps are light as a feather - you're walking on clouds...you're only as young as your heart." His age is showing and he's giving us a mirror into his life.  This isn't a good starter for neophytes, admittedly, but for longtime fans the new album is worth spending some time with.


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