[Jandek] Periodising Jandek recordings

Lars Spurious lars.spurious at gmail.com
Mon Jun 4 05:30:03 PDT 2007

Okay, so let's have some fun regarding the periodisation of Jandek

We know Smith spent some time in New York, writing novels and submitting
them for publication before withdrawing them when he didn't hear back from
the publishers promptly (though there was some interest in his manuscripts).

When did Smith begin recording? Pretty early on, hypothesises Seth, our
webmaster, who, on the website suggests the group recordings predate *Ready
for the House*, which appeared in 1978. This would tie in with the claim
Smith made on the phone in the early 80s when he said he had at least 10
albums ready for release. The group recordings are released out of sequence,
and later recordings may even be outtakes from previous releases. Alongside
these, solo albums are issued, perhaps in sequence (do others detect a kind
of progression in the music?).


1. If Smith had several albums already recorded, why did he issue *Ready to
the House* first of all? It seems less accessible than some of the later
group albums, after all.

2. What about Smith's claims regarding the helpful encouragement he recieved
from Chusid and other sources which kept him going in the early years? The
question here is - kept him *releasing* prerecorded material, or recording
*new* material (or both)?

3. The Units, the name under which *Ready for the House* was issued, is a
*group* name - perhaps it was chosen because there was already a bunch of
recorded group material.

4. If Smith was born in 1945, as records indicate, then what was he up to
until his ealry 30s? *Plenty* of time to record material.

Then, hypothesises Goldberg, on the basis of changes in the voice on Jandek
recordings, there's a long break, though Corwood keeps releasing albums
already in the can. The break lasts from 1985 or so all the way up to the
acapella albums, around the turn of the millenium, after which we get
another run of solo albums like *The Place* and *Khartoum* (and there's
certainly a feeling of progression as we move from album to album).


1. Smith still sounds very excited about recording and releasing albums on
the telephone interview from 1985. He doesn't sound like a man ready for a

2. The 1980s begins to see a warm reception for new Corwood releases - with
this encouragement, would Smith simply stop recording albums altogether?

Another point: I remember someone receiving a message from Corwood recently
to the effect that they release Jandek albums chronologically ('as is our

Well, I guess this whole issue is ultimately undecidable on the basis of the
recordings alone. We need access to the Milstein archives, or perhaps to the
letters from which Chusid quotes. Still, those of you on the list with more
sensitive ears than mine, and who have been listening to Jandek's work for
longer may have some very interesting points to make on this issue solely on
the basis of the albums released.
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