Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Jayhawks (1993)

While I was spending my one year of exile in Florida (Fort Myers to be exact), I read a brief write-up in some second rate music magazine about a band that they compared to Neil Young. Oddly enough, this was in the same issue that declared Neil the Godfather of Grunge. Later, just prior to my return trip north, I videotaped Farm Aid VI, primarily to see Neil Young's performance. As luck would have it, scanning through the tape looking for other artists who might interest me, I discovered the band that the aforementioned article was about.

The Jayhawks only played three or four songs for that Live Aid performance. Although there was a vague similarity, I'm not sure that I completely got the Neil Young comparison. Still, they were pretty good. Prior to that, my main attempt to get into current music had been the purchase of the Spin Doctors' Pocket Full of Kryptonite. I think that fine acquisition was due to the influence of Mark, when I hung out with him and Len as they vacationed with their mother in Naples. That cd would survive my collection for two or three years, until I threw it out the window of the Albany apartment I shared with Scott at the time. That particular disc would prove to have the survival instincts of a cockroach, as it took a trip outside and a few more throws to finish off it off for good.

Upon my return to the Northeast, during my brief stay in the Albany suburb of East Greenbush, I purchased The Jayhawks' 1992 album, Hollywood Town Hall. Later that year, I moved into an apartment in Brunswick, just outside of Troy, with Scott and Jen. This arrangement didn't last long, but Jen would become the first person whom I turned on to The Jayhawks. I didn't realize how well respected The Jayhawks were, until years later I learned that Sean and Anders were fans as well.

Although The Jayhawks are considered one of the pioneering acts of the modern alt-country movement, I was still just dipping my toes into the genre at this point. It wasn't until a couple of years later, with the release of Tomorrow the Green Grass and a couple other pivotal albums, that I would become fully immersed.

Following the release of Tomorrow the Green Grass, Mark Olson quit the band, leaving Gary Louris as the sole driving force. I thought their sound would suffer, and I still contend that their show at Saratoga Winners in Latham in 1995, when Olson was still a member, was their best live performance that I've seen. However, Louris would prove to be a more than capable band leader, and they would release three more strong albums before officially calling it quits last year.

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