A Freebie From My Morning Jacket

Jim James. Photo by Jeremiah Garcia, courtesy of KCRW

My Morning Jacket rocks the radio and Internet airwaves on July 15th, with a concert recorded in a legendary recording studio.

My first experience with My Morning Jacket was during a drive into the Sierra mountains, after a year at college. A friend had the Split EP and played it on the stereo as we drove north from Los Angeles in my mangled ‘84 Toyota pickup. Listening to a song like Come Closer at a time like that, when imagination is at its peak and no emotional armor has yet been built against love, it’s impossible for a band to not get under your skin. When I hear that song today the lines, “Oh soldier you look so strong, who held you that you fought so long?” still grip what’s left of my shriveled, black heart.

“Paris was never to be the same again although it was always Paris and you changed as it changed.” The way that Paris changed for Hemingway My Morning Jacket has in a smaller way changed for me since that trip to the Sierras in late 2002. Nine years later the band has become something completely different. For some people it’s probably better - it certainly is for Jim James and his bandmates. They’ve made it. But in the same way that Modest Mouse began to change after the Moon and Antarctica, there is something unknowable missing. A spirit that cannot be resurrected.

However, experience teaches you that this is the way of the world. A band creates its own universe and then proceeds to seem to become a paler version of itself as time goes on. As new fans begin to discover them that universe becomes diluted. Disappointed, most of the original fans move on to fresh meat (fans are carnivores after all). Other things happen in the band - original members move on and so what was once a quirky, iconic sound begins to sound more and more like many other bands. Additionally, once the band realizes it can actually make a career out of playing music changes occur which no artist will admit to. Attempting to please the audience is only one symptom.

My Morning Jacket has been through all these changes and more and come out on the other side of it usually able to sound fresh and interesting, which is no small feat and surely a testament to the fact that Jim James still knows how to write a song. Despite their success they have also managed to retain their humanity by doing things like playing for free on Tuesday, June 21st to benefit the world’s hippest public radio station, KCRW. L.A.’s KCRW is home of legendary radio show Morning Becomes Eclectic and has been instrumental in making the careers of bands like My Morning Jacket.

The live show took place at the legendary recording studio The Village, which if you’ve read the liner notes to any album recorded in the past 30 years there is a 50/50 chance of it having been recorded there. The 250 person audience, all of whom had paid $125 per ticket, was mostly part of the LA gentry. Their idea of double fisting was a glass of wine in one hand and a bottle of purified water in the other. They also had an incredibly annoying habit of stepping on your shoes while dancing and then giving each other very involved back rubs. Something bad happens to you when you get older and have money.

The music was entertaining and Jim James proved himself to be a consummate entertainer. His trademark voice was on full display. In the hands of anyone else the songs, mostly off the new record Circuital, might seem relatively pedestrian, but the high lonesome sound of James’ vocals imbues the music with an ethereal aura that can’t be ignored. Like Billie Holiday or Bill Monroe singing the simplest of songs and making them legendary, with My Morning Jacket the song is in the voice.

You will be able to hear that voice and the entire My Morning Jacket concert on July 15th if you set your radio dial to 89.9FM in Los Angeles or tune your Internet browser to KCRW’s website.

SETLIST: My Morning Jacket at The Village Studios, West L.A., June 21, 2011

Victory Dance


The Day is Coming

Wonderful (The Way I Feel)

Outta My System

Holdin’ on to Black Metal

First Light

You Wanna Freak Out

Slow Slow Tune

Movin' Away

Wordless Chorus

Smokin" From Shootin"

Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt.2

One Big Holiday

I Will Sing

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.