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Listen | Essentials

Meet John Doe

by Legtruck | Last Updated: 08.22.2011 |

I once was blind, but now I see.

Our first in the Essentials series and why I think you should own “Meet John Doe”.

The Essential solo debut CD from John Doe  Meet John Doe

“Just put it in,” she said.

 

“I don’ wanna!” I replied.“

“You are too young to be such a stubborn ass.” she said, “Where’s that “try anything lil’ dead head” I married!

 

In a huff she walked to the door offering over as she left, “In the unlikely event you remember who you claim you were, I am leaving this on the table. C’mon, it will be like trying something you never did before. Fear of the unknown never stopped you back when you were fun and younger. What do you have to lose listening to a CD!”

 

Damn her... damn her to hell for taunting me with my achilles heel of experimentation. Through the narrow view of my impending uptight-ed-ness, her logic piqued my curiosity.

 

At 27, in my mind I was well down the road, I had it all figured out and the foundation was set, the cement hardening, my mind was closing. I felt I had lived 10 life times already. Like most self-absorbed white males approaching 30 I had slipped steadfast into the pursuit of normality, moral superiority and the American way via my commercial enterprise. I was cocky (angry), confident (afraid), sure of myself (lost in my ego) and you could tell me nothing, as it should be, yarrr harummmph!

 

On the other side of all that was my blonde, SoCal wife. With the “Oh ma god’s” and “Whatever’s”!

 

We were less than a year into this union and she had relentlessly been trying to plant the kudzu that was her childhood, LA strip bands and 80’s pop culture, into my mind. That day the insidious vines wrought “Meet John Doe”

 

Yes, looking back on it I really was becoming a "Class A" prick. I imagine standing next to her I was starting to look like Ward Cleaver instead of the creative I was. Realizing I was “going normal” scared the shit out of me that day, she actually scared me a little every day.

 

Deciding I would rather be a victim in the name of curiosity than stubbornness, I gave it a listen.

 

Young men and women let me tell you now don’t ever turn your back on that beam of light escaping the door of your mind as it is closing. Run, don’t walk to the things that light illuminates. For what you will gain will certainly eclipse all you might loose.

 

Young men suck it up and admit it, that special friend may be correct, shut-up and listen! I can honestly say because I listened to that CD, my philosophy on life and music would be changed for the better. And to the degree only rivaled by my choice to pick up a fly rod again. The door upstairs was blown back open. It was a real grinch moment for my heart and mind.

 

“Meet John Doe” as you might gather was John Doe’s debut solo CD. Doe was the former singer from the LA Strip band “X”. In his powerhouse CD I was introduced to a musician I had refused to listen to in the 80s. However, this one disk for me was such a donkey punch in my egocentric package, it made me wonder what else I might have missed while wearing those hippy, jam band blinders.

 

As I listened to the songs it became impossible to equate this disk with what I previously knew of "X". Expecting the thrashing sound of the strip I was met with a disk that was... country? No, it was better than country. The music had a boot stomping twang, the lyrics a heart wrenching impact that would leave Hank Williams crying in his whiskey but it also had a undeniable rock and roll soul.

 

Like a great work of art, this collection of songs had the power to effect me on many levels, creating an ambience of emotions and shared experiences to which most people can relate. However, while universal in it’s subject and style, “Meet John Doe” communicates to you with a unique and clever lyrical word play. The arrangements complex and transcendent of both country or rock and roll.

 

“Meet John Doe” has it all from driving, angry and manic songs to delicate mournful ballads that feature what John Doe would go on in his career to do best – “being one of America’s best and last great crooner”[1]. But don’t get me wrong this is not Bing or Franky. This is rock and roll in the finest tradition with quotable lyrics and one liners on which your brain will hang.

 

The entire CD is so well produced, the collection of songs so thoughtfully compiled that it demands the experience of listening to the entire CD – in order!  While the front man is the instrument that brings the message, the album is supported by a fantastic collaborative effort from band members on both music and lyrics.

 

“Meet John Doe” has that rare musical artistry that allows it to transcend the barriers of time, contemporary trends and the tastes of many generations. Every song harnasses a prosaic style of writing combined with a solid production quality that allow you to listen to the music and the words on equal footing, regardless of the date they were penned.

 

Released in 1990 “Meet John Doe” is an Essential for no other reason than I can play it 21 years later and it still kicks ass. But also I can associate it with a great life lesson I learned and am reminded of every time I listen to it – that taking your medicine can be good for you.

 

Get it.

“Meet John Doe” is available at Amazon, starting new at 31 bucks, LP for 20, CD 2.99 used. From the DGC label, spinoff of Geffen Records.

 

Epilogue

A couple of years after I heard this CD I got to see John Doe live, twice. The second time I got to meet him. John was on the wife's list of "Must meets" and like any self respecting rock star, after shaking my hand he stepped in between me and my wife and turned his back to me. I guess all those So-Cal folks know each other, because he talked her up like he had not seen her in years. You could have at least offered me a pull off the sherry bottle John.

 

[1] Quoted from a great American sportsman, spoken in the pursuit of ideals and treason, whilst drinking Night Train in the fireplace room.

 

What is an Essential

        There are two types of musical fans in this world – those that collect and those that wait to be served and listen. To the latter an essential will be a difficult concept to wrap their brain around. For the former you understand that an Essential is a CD or body of musical work that is definitively unique, stands out as what you perceive brilliant, earth shattering or universal in it’s truths. It is timeless in it’s style and is as fresh today as it was when it was originally produced.

        The idea behind featuring the Essentials is simple, if it moved you, saved you, motivated you or just stuck in your life for a long period of time, then maybe there is someone else out there that needs to have that experience, too. An essential needs to be in the archive of everyone whether it appeals to them or not because it’s goodness demands it be owned.

 

If you have an Essential you think the world should here about. Tell us about it. If you got off on it, we want to try it!

 

More great music @ Archive.org

Check out Archive.org for a tremendous collection of live music and everything all for free, but you should choose to donate if you use it. Apps available for most smart phones and pads that will allow you to listen to the thousands of live shows they have online.