Sunday, October 23, 2005

Depp and Stipe perform six degrees of separation

This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul hits stores Tuesday.

It is what you think it is: Each song from the heralded 40-year-old album is re-recorded by today's artists including Low, The Donnas and Mindy Smith. Listen to L.A. Times writer Richard Cromelin's piece (see audio side bar) on the album, along with sound clips.

For those who don't know, the only time I prefer to listen to The Beatles is during a deep, Jameson's induced sleep, one where I am as close to unconscious as humanly possible and my chances of memory are slim. That said, this recording caught my attention.

The album was produced by Jim Sampas, who helmed the sw-e-e-e-et-at-times tribute, Kerouac -- kicks joy darkness. Here are two recordings from that album.

"Madroad Driving ... " - Johnny Depp & Come
"My Gang" - Michael Stipe


Around 1993, a band formed in Texas called P. They recorded one now-hard-to-come-by album for Capitol. Flea and Sex Pistol/Indie 103.1 DJ Steve Jones made guest appearances. The band's first and only single was entitled, "Michael Stipe."

Their first show (and one of only a few ever) was the 1993 Austin Music Awards. Here's how they got the gig: The 'they' was Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, veteran guitarist Bill Carter, drummer Sal Jenco and Keith Richards-inspired actor, Johnny Depp. (At the time, Depp was in Texas filming, What's Eating Gilbert Grape.)

Here are two tracks from that album. One shows why Capitol took them seriously, the other shows why few others did.

  • "Michael Stipe" **Gibby Haynes meets iconic Depp in Texas. Forms a band with him. Gibby then bases P's first single on meeting R.E.M. frontman at a Hollywood Hills party. Gotta love Gibby.
  • "Dancing Queen"

Random fact: Depp played slide guitar on "Fade In-Out" off Oasis' '97 release, Be Here Now. The album's cover is devoted to reference points from Depp's life and career.

"Fade In-Out" - Oasis w/Johnny Depp


At 1:59 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Sal Jenco had a recurring role as a janitor or something on Depp's TV show, "21 Jump Street."

A gal I used to know went to high school with some of the Butthole Surfers in Dallas and is still friends with them, and the song "Pepper" was based on the lives and fates of some of their classmates.

A buddy of mine went with BHS drummer King Coffey to the movies at Northcross Mall in Austin to see "Forrest Gump," of all things.

This same friend, some time before, had gone to dinner with King and some other people the day after Kurt Cobain's suicide, and he spent part of the meal in a heated discussion with a
"fat, bald guy" who was in their party. The guy commented that he'd been approached to produce "In Utero." My friend hadn't a clue who this fat guy was: "He said his name was Bob Mould...or something like that."

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

heard "pepper" on 103.1 last night. tripleJ, i had no idea you didnt like the beatles.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Bankston, great story.

Satisfied '75, Lennon was amazing, and truly one of the best. McCartney continues to bore me. I would put them next to that other Paul-fronted band, KISS, on the overrated list.

So though, I do think some of their albums - especially the later ones - were great, I feel they get way too much love.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger cgpop said...

Crazy about that Oasis cover, I always thought it looked cool, I had no idea that it was all referencing Johnny Depp.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Depp also deserves some cool points by osmosis, if nothing else, in that his baby mama, Vanessa Paradis, was a protege (and one might also assume conquest) of all-around cool Gaul Serge Gainsbourg.

I've always wanted to interview Depp about his book collecting hobby. He has some great Beat items, including Kerouac's trench coat, which supposedly is a perfect fit.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Ah, the trench coat.

Coppola has had the film rights for more than 30 years, 10 or more of which Depp's name has been thrown around as a starring role.

Russell Banks wrote the recent screenplay for that film.

This article talks about that, and tells an interesting story about Banks, Kerouac and Chapel Hill. Two, who I just raved about the slow brilliance of Banks' novel-turned-to-films, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, should find this of interest.

I would bet alt-country chanteuse Jesse Sykes would agree. Her band, featuring Whiskeytown founding guitarist/songwriter Phil Wandscher, is The Sweet Hereafter.

At 9:08 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

In that first picture, it looks like ol' Jack is giving us his "Oh face."

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Luke said...

TripleJ never ceases to fascinate me...

Yes, Paul McCartney is about as exciting as, say, that lame-ass song some clown did called "Ebony and Ivory." But to discount the Beatles because of one member is a tragic mistake. The songwriting duo -- as a whole -- is unsurpassed. Harrison never got the respect he was due. Ringo? Well, he's Ringo; he was funny in those Tom Petty videos.

I'm NOT a Beatles fan, but there is simply no discounting their importance to music in the 20th century...and beyond. And that, I always thought, is what TripleJ's music diatribes were all about: quality, influence, impact -- and not personal preference and whether one "likes" it or not.

It's not unlike Depp (the actor, not the musician): you know, some of the time he's just plain annoying (not unlike that "Ebony and Ivory" guy)...but damn if a lot of the time he isn't just plain great. Superlative, even. And you can't deny the quality.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Luke said...

And as for Sal...I mean Jack...I mean Not Jack...I mean...

I'm still waiting for TripleJ to weigh in on Tom Russell's "Hotwalker." Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Check THAT ONE out, for sure. Check his site out in the meantime:

Or maybe it WAS just typing...???

At 12:51 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Seldom_Seen, love the timely Capote reference regarding Kerouac's writing talents ("... maybe it WAS just typing ... ")

RE: the Beatles. Any band who is most described as the 'top pop band of all-time' is going to be, by sheer definition, overrated.

And, it is definitely a personal thing. I personally don't like to listen to anything Paul created.

I saw John Doe recently and he said something about Spoon being today's Beatles as far as nailing the art of the pop song. There's something to be said for that - and I would rather here that or any alternative, then someone else saying: "The Beatles are the greatest band of all-time." That, bores me.

Re: Tom Russell - I will check him out. The only thing I have heard of him was a track on the great Merle Haggard tribute, 'Tulare Dust.' His was a standout track.

Here's the link to Tom Russell.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a big beatles fan and think they're great and all, but -- and i suspect this is true of lots of people -- it's hard to be objective about them. the first song i sang (supposedly) was yellow submarine, the first album i bought was Something New. I could recite all the words to the movie A Hard Day's Night -- swear to god, what a loser. I used to go to Beatles conventions (well, actually only twice). And lucky enough for me I got to meet John, Yoko and Sean (who was a baby) Lennon when they came over for dinner one night. This was all before I was 10.

Their music and legacy are part of my childhood in a way that no other music is. So I think they're great, but I have no way of knowing if they're "great".

It's like dumpling soup or something. If you grow up as a kid with dumpling soup, you probably think it's pretty terrific and if the world then has a raging debate over whether or not dumpling soup is the greatest freaking soup of all time or it's overrated or maybe it just plain's seems kind of irrelevant...

i guess i'm like triple j -- talk of the beatles being the greatest band of all time sort of bores me too...and, yes, it's definitely a personal thing...

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Perhaps it's getting off the topic...but perhaps not: what is the assemblage's perception of the Brill Building-era songwriters? Of Motown (as a whole)? I would put the Beatles -- as a singular entity -- on a list like that: as an item on the list of pantheons who belong on ivory pillars as the foundation on which all popular (as opposed to "pop") music today rests. 'Twas my point earlier. And let me reiterate: I am NOT a Beatles fan.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Anonymous, that would've been very cool, having something like that happen in one's childhood, but I can't help but ask, did Yoko break up the dinner party too?

And it's hard to believe Sean is friggin' 30 years old!

I am a fan of the Beatles, though not one of those people who believe they wrote each and every song just for me (well, maybe "Eleanor Rigby").

I think the problem is that anything that gets saturation coverage in the media (the Beatles, 9/11, the Holocaust) is very likely to run a risk of turning a lot of people off sooner or later. The saturation coverage distorts the object, robs it of its true meaning, then replaces it with a different meaning, until you're only reaction is to say, "Christ! Enough of this already!"

Is Shakespeare the only great writer in history? Was the Holocaust the greatest tragedy of all time? Were there other bands of the calibre of the Beatles? If the answer is no you're still not likely to hear about it.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

i must say, i am curious to know who anon's parents were, if they were having the lennon's to dinner.

At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get that you can't just throw a post out there like that ("oh, yeah, by the way -- *yawn* -- met john lennon when he came over once for dinner -- *scratch belly/stretch* -- anyway, as i was saying about dumpling soup...") but there's no good way to just back up and go into the whole thing with full context and all w/o devolving into utter boredom.

yes...i know...completely lame of me...

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

gotcha. good story regardless.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Hey, anon, that never stopped me.


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