‘Car Button Cloth’ by THE LEMONHEADS
For some (obvious) reasons EVAN DANDO, frontman of THE LEMONHEADS reminded
me frequently of the late country legend Gram Parsons. Because both were highly cute
in appearance, highly talented as singer-songwriters and highly hooked on drugs and alcohol. Two destructive characters loved by many for their heart & soul touching songs. Parsons, unfortunately, died – only 27 – on 19 September 1973 after a lethal combination of alcohol & morfine. Boston troubadour Dando, luckily enough for him, despite serious health problems caused by his huge appetite for all sorts of dangerous hallucinogens he could get his hands on, survived after many falls and rises and still performs now & then.
Enough about evil things, I’m here to celebrate the 20th birthday of The Lemonheads‘ seventh album, released on 14 October 1996. A raw, unpolished, almost masterpiece record to my ears. On CAR BUTTON CLOTH Dando did what he did so gloriously good
at the time: picking up his guitar and playing catching and moving jingle jangle songs like
Mr. Tambourine Man used to do. He created gripping melodies to wrap his everything-is-broken stories (gems like Losing Your Mind, Break Me and Hospital) in. He used pop, blues, country, just any vibe that suited his troubled-mind-reflections to express his pain, his fear, his doubt, his love & hate and his mental disorder. “Tired, tired, tie a knot and try to untie it / Just can’t decide if I should lie / Or tell the truth and try to hide it” he murmured on Losing Your Mind . It said a lot about his chaotic behaviour, exploited viciously by greedy press sharks.
“I don’t wake up with a sudden start, but with empty arms and a broken heart” is a loud and clear line of It’s All True, the opening track. I experienced (and still do) Car Button Cloth as a public scream for help by somebody who knew he messed up, but who still cared. Admit it, many of us like that kind of rock and roll exorcism, as long there’s a happy end, of course. Because hurt souls are capable of producing awesome music drenched with recognizable emotions and human drama. There are plenty of examples available, then and now. Oh, yes, I just said almost masterpiece because near the end of the album his voice – tortured by anything he smoked and/or swallowed, I suppose – lost direction sometimes in a way that it affected the momentum of some songs. Maybe, he was too tired or too intoxicated (and the producer probably fell asleep too) to get back to those very moments. I actually wonder what really happened back there, back then, in the studio. Anyway, I played the whole album three times in a row – yes, I was forgotten how immensely touching it was – and I selected (a difficult process), three top tracks…
IF I COULD TALK I TELL YOU
LOSING YOUR MIND
Here’s the cutting longplayer in full…
(photo: FB Lemonheads)