[Jandek] Jandek: the Book?

Danen D. Jobe djobe at uark.edu
Mon Sep 4 18:44:04 PDT 2006

> Okay, so my posts this weekend....

are yesterday's news. I can't except an apology for the Holy Ghost, but no probs here. 
>  So, stop if I'm wrong, but let me get this straight: Niagara 
> Blues is not about Jandek at all, rather about Danen Jobe's 
> impression of what the narrator of the Jandek songs might be like.

Rather, what would have led somebody to become the person who wrote those songs, if that makes sense. 

> So there's Danen's Jandek and Corwood's Jandek, and they're kind of 
> like alternate dimension versions of the same person, and this is 
> different from, say, the portrayal of Virginia Woolf in "The Hours" 
> who is a fictionalized impression of a real person doing 
> fictionalized versions of things the real Virginia Woolf did, or 
> and different from the story "Treatment" by Juan Martinez, which 
> features a mostly metaphorical Jandek writing songs the real Jandek 
> never wrote. Right?

Yeah, I think that's right...it's definitely not like "the Hours." Nobody drowns. Never read "Treatment," so if there's similarities it's entirely coincidental. 

 In that case there's been a misunderstanding. I 
> thought Danen was trying to mix what we know of the real Sterling 
> Smith with his fictional Jandek in some frustrating Oliver Stone-
> ian mess.

Please shoot me if I do anything that makes one think of "JFK."

 If this Jandek is entirely fictional, I'm cool with it. 

That's the contract. Again, the songs, album titles, etc are real, but "real" only in context to this universe. It made more sense to do it that way than make up a name for Jandek, etc.

> Which leads me to a few questions for Danen:
>  1) Does your Jandek live in Houston?

Not in this book. There will be two more short novels forthcoming and at some point Houston shows up but he's not from there.

>  2) Is his name Sterling Smith? 


>  3) Did he grow up in Providence or spend time in Ohio?
Neither place figures AT ALL. Principally because I'm more interested in his music as it relates to southern/folk/blues stylings (and by southern I mean Mississippi John Hurt, not "Free Bird"). It made more sense to place him in a world I understand. Southern lit is the way I write so naturally I put him in the south - Niagra, Arkansas (an invented place). That invented town sits close to real towns like Fayetteville, from which real things are twisted to suit the fiction. This is sounding a lot more complicated than it is.

>  4) Is Nancy a character? John? Eddie?
Yes but maybe not in the ways you'd think. Eddie isn't in this book.
>  5) Did he record the songs starting in 1978 or before?
Before. Again, though, that's to fit what the book needed. I've stated in threads how I feel about his REAL catalog, but I find that viewpoint changes some from time to time, and I'll say right now that I don't know anymore about that than anybody. My posts on ideas regarding chronology are just my impressions, nothing more. 

 Here I had to decide on an absolute progression, so I went with it. That's not to say that what I put here is accurate to the REAL artist. I've never asked.

>  6) Are any of the journalists and DJs he's been in contact with 
> also used as characters? I'd love to hear your fictionalized 
> versions of the phone conversations with Irwin Chusid or George 
> Parsons, just to name a couple. 

Somewhat in  book #2 - in this book he's doing the garage rock and recording it, so the dj's don't matter. Unless Chusid licenses me his name (doubtful) there will be a version of him later on, where it's applicable. Again, I'm not getting ahead of things. This story largely deals with the harsh reality of the narrator's family life and friendship with Stanford, and music rises naturally out of that. 

>  7) Does your Jandek ever end up performing live?  
Not in this book. 

>  8) Does he write seven novels and burn them?
Not novels - poetry. There is one novel he works on in book #2, which invents a life for a bluesman named Kid Cole. For anybody who knows about Cincinnatti blues (and you should - it's very good), Cole wrote a song that was supposed to be called "Niagara Falls Blues," but Vocalion misprinted it as "Miagra Fall Blues." I twisted that one letter to be "Niagra Fall Blues," and this will lead to Jandek recording "Niagra Blues," which in the second book is the song submitted to labels to try and get a contract. 

Why "Niagra Blues?" First and foremost because it was the first Jandek song I ever heard. He liked the idea.

Oh, and I guess the Kid Cole connection IS an Ohio connection, but that's tangential. It's the name of the song that matters here, and I slightly tweak that.

>  A few more thoughts: Is Corwood's sanctioning of the project a 
> signal that we should all make up our own Jandeks?

I have no idea how to answer that. Corwood's sanctioning of the project has nothing to do with others' perceptions, or other projects, or how people see Jandek. 

 He's hinted at 
> that idea in the past- remember he told one guy "your imagined 
> story would likely be more interesting than anything we could 
> provide" or something to that effect.

Exactly! "You may not find all the answers you want. It's better that way." I hope people gain greater understanding of the music through this book, but on the other hand I also hope it draws them to old blues guys and the fact that "real folk blues" has always been "out of standard time." The old guys stopped and started and moved around in inconsistent beats from the get-go. They also wrote lyrics that included religious themes next to murder ballads next to just crazy stuff. I wanted to reflect how, more so than any other modern musician I can think of, Jandek continues these traditions. That he gives it his own twist goes without saying.

 Perhaps that's how we wants 
> people to look at his art. And that's cool- really cool. In fact, I 
> think we should follow Danen's lead and all write Jandek books, or 
> make Jandek movies, or a Jandek play. Jesus has multiple different 
> biographies, why not Jandek?

He makes no promises of salvation, or a second coming. Or maybe that could be part of somebody's ficiton? Cassie Rose has a cool portrait on the cover of the "Corwood Variations" CD suggesting a "Chariot of the Gods" idea in which Jandek comes to the Earth and populates it, and has now returned to summon his minions. 

>  I've been hashing around my head a coming-of-age tale in which 
> two young friends venture off to Houston one dull summer day 
> determined to find Jandek and get them to autograph their copies of 
> Six and Six...  

Go for it. Vinyl or CD?


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