If what really makes a blog post great is a topic that is near & dear to the author’s heart, then consider this the greatest post in the short lifetime of this blog.
I was talking with a new internet friend the other night, a fellow blogger named Risha, and she asked me about my five favorite musicians. I told her some names: The Flaming Lips, The Velvet Underground, Akron/Family, and a couple others we don’t need to talk about now. But. BUT!! I forgot one, a musician that has made my heart explode more times than I could ever count. So, I feel I owe him his proper respect.
Yes yes, we all know him as the guitarist for that band that’s been irrelevant for like 20 years now (luckily, he quit that band last year). But what most people have missed is that this man, John Frusciante, has been a prolific songwriter with his own solo career that has spanned the last 15 years. And I’ll get into some of it. But I want to state my mission clearly first.
The point of this post is to give you, as always, minimal (if a bit deluded) backgrounds and facts, and let the music speak for itself. I will warn early on that most people simply won’t dig it. Not in an “oh I’m so fucking righteous for liking this obscure artist that you couldn’t possibly understand” kind of way, but I’m thinking more along the lines of “If this guy was going to be loved by all, then I wouldn’t be here pushing him on you, now would I?” So yes. Quick backgrounds, quick facts.
John Frusciante is probably out of his goddamn mind. I was living in the French Quarter of New Orleans when I first got into his solo records. I had just turned 21, and I was drinking and drinking. Not to mention, I was just coming off a solid 8 years of heavy drug use. And there was a story to go with this music, a story I understood through and through.
I said quick, right? Okay, let’s go.
John dropped out of a massive rock band, spiralled into depression and drug addiction that would go on to produce the greatest record I’ve ever heard. Here’s a short film called Stuff that his friend Johnny Depp directed, just a picture of Frusciante’s life at the time and some of the music that was happening (Look out for cameos from Gibby Haynes and Timothy Leary). Just promise to come back after the video, because if you’re not clinically insane, it will scare you and turn you off. But just bear with me. Trust me, okay? Good. Here’s the video:
Pretty good, right? Anyway. We all know he eventually came back and made a bunch of mediocre tunes with the Chili Peppers, yes? So he lived.
The 21-year-old version of myself, the one that was drinking and dying in New Orleans, hearing ghosts of my own (I was hearing voices coming from the ceiling fan of my apartment, spending a lot of time walking around declaring who was essentially good and who was essentially evil, literally… like making judgements on people passing in the streets), this version of me fell in love with the music and the story of John Frusciante.
The man had been dead and then magically sprang to life again, making a few more records with the Peppers and eventually making a shitload of his own music on the side. He has worked with the guys from The Mars Volta, Mike Watt from The Minutemen and fIREHOSE, Johnny Cash, RZA, Joe Lally from Fugazi, and a whole bunch of other fuckers at one point or another.
Okay okay, god, I’m writing way too much more than I wanted to. I can’t sell you on this music by being a fucking psycho myself, can I? No. No, of course, that’s silly. Okay. So I’m shutting up. You get the gist/jyst (however you spell that word). You can listen to some of these brilliant songs that I will now post. And if you like them, you can go do your own goddamn research because I am not your daddy, no matter what people are saying.
I will post maybe somewhere between 5 and 20 songs, I really don’t know what will happen next, but I promise to keep it linear. So If you don’t dig the first two songs, go listen to the last two. The dichotomy will make you crap a little bit. And this will only be from my five favourite albums of his; he’s made like 12. Okay. Shut up. Music. Go!
Selections from Niandra Lades & Usually Just a T-Shirt (1994)
This record is my favourite album ever recorded. Describing it would be a whole ‘nother blog post that I don’t have time for today. Here are two songs:
As Can Be
Selections from Smile From The Streets You Hold (1997)
This record is the one he made when he was at his absolute worst. He has admitted to only releasing it officially for the sake of getting some money to buy more heroin. He burned down his house around this time too. Two more songs:
A Fall Through The Ground (Greatest guitar solo I’ve ever heard is in this song!!)
Selections from To Record Only Water For Ten Days (2001)
He was cleaned up, back with the Shitty Peppers, and playing with drum machines. Okay production, amazing song writing. Yes:
The First Season
Selections from The Motion Picture Soundtrack for The Brown Bunny (2003)
Vincent Gallo’s weird film where he made Chole Sevigny suck it on camera, remember? Well John contributed half of the soundtrack. Lovelies:
Selections from Ataxia‘s Automatic Writing (2004)
Brilliant side project that came about when John started getting bored of the Chilis. This whole album was made about a week after these guys started playing together! It’s good:
Montreal (Joe Lally sings)
Selections from The Will To Death (2004)
I’m too fucking tired to talk about the music anymore. Just dig it! Dig? Okay:
The Days Have Turned
And that is that, bitches. Goodness, that turned out to be painful. I mean for me, hopefully not for you (I had originally uploaded like 25 songs, but this post was just looking WAY too epic for anyone to actually sit through. So yeah…). Anyway, I take back what I said in the beginning: this is definitely not a very good post. But I tried, because I do care a lot about this topic. Music is more important to me than my kidneys. And this is some of my favourite music. This guy is widely acknowledged as “greatest guitar play of the last 20 years” and blah blah blah, but really… there’s much more to it than that. And I feel thankful for having a platform to sort of present my case to people. I know it was a long post, but I appreciate you sitting through it.
Well maybe if you’re still awake and interested… we can now discuss what you, the viewers, think of these tunes. Or maybe you’re already a huge fan of Frusciante and just want to stop in and say, “fuck yeah!” Whatever it is, I think it’d be nice if this blog entry got some attention. All right? All right!
Good night and godspeed.