Jim White‘s latest LP, Misfit’s Jubilee, arrives on 30 October via Fluff & Gravy Records and features many of White’s hallmarks. Meditations on the American South, touches of heartbreak and laughter, and novelistic portraits carried out in the narrow spaces of songs. Those who have been along for the ride since The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus” and those who have come into the picture later will find that time has not dulled White’s keen observational sensibilities nor his knack for creating unforgettable songs.
Witness “Smart Ass Reply” is a four-minute play disguised as a song. The musician traverses between latter-day slacker pop, lo-fi, surf rock, and emerges with something that feels like an anthemic radio hit save for its lyrical content and wit. It’s a swirling, whirling aural collage that rips and snorts the way only White can. It’s intellectual without being pretentious, street-level without pandering, and a powerful reminder of his particular genius.
“Circa 1973 I was what they called a Jesus Freak,” recalls White. “I prayed a lot and went to church three times a week and abstained from dope and sex and sin and what have you. I drove this crappy old Ford sedan that I bought from a cop. It came with an 8-track tape player, and a few weeks after I got it, tucked under the bench seat I found an Alice Cooper tape.”
He adds, “Now, according to my pastor and the elders in my church, Alice Cooper was the human embodiment of Satan. Despite the fact that such music was forbidden by my church, I secretly listened to that tape over and over, typically cranked up so loud that it made my ears ring. That devil music felt liberating and empowering and was my covert rebellion against piety and the immense gravitational pull of all things Southern and religious.
I guess that seminal experience must have imprinted down deep in my psyche because 40 years later, this song came popping out of nowhere. So I blame Jesus and Alice Cooper for its appearance on