Sunday, December 10, 2017


Been thinking a bit about ends recently, as in end of times rather than the other ends of, well, anyone. That can be depressing thinking, either choice actually, but, let's face it, the world ain't actually being done any great favours by those that have earnt(?) the right to control it. So how best to lift the mood and bring a smile to proceedings? I find a rousing raggedy chorus of purpose to be an apt and welcome remedy. So who better than the never more ragged, vocally anyway, Jayhawks. Short of early 70s Lindisfarne, no-one does it better. Love it, especially when comes the awkward and never more effective collision of Mark Olson and Gary Louris is there, something that real life failed ever to make for a permanent connection. Their 1992 - 95 recordings, 'Hollywood Town Hall' and 'Tomorrow the Green Grass', albums 3 and 4 respectively, are perhaps the best examples of how to 'do' americana, and are certainly my favourite.

This song, however dates earlier than that, and one I first picked up on that green Rykodisc 20th anniversary sampler that you really ought to have. Rykodisc are one of those labels that just guarantee
satisfaction, always a reliable source of good music, in no small part due to the Joe Boyd connection, Ryko having bought his label, Hannibal, and thus granted much wider attention to his roster. A man who can do no wrong, his pedigree is impeccable. (Whaddya mean, you don't know who Joe Boyd is? Until I get round to a post wholly devoted, go here. Or better, read this.) Anyhow, I digress, the song, apart from that inclusion, that comes from the band's somewhat tentative second step, 'Blue Earth', in 1989. Their debut had been a low-key and local production and release, this being an attempt to woo the majors. Unfortunately circumstance allowed it to be little more than slightly enhanced demos, Louris having even left the band through an injury, wooed back to overdub his guitar and vocal parts onto the Olson penned songs. He stayed. Derided as primitive at the time, it is both template and masterclass for what would follow, with a little added rough polish.

The song is a treat, but I can't say I fully understand the lyrics, it may be best that way. But given the frequency with which live versions of it abound on the youtube, including the one I show, I can't help but feel it a metaphor for the on-off relationship between Louris and Olson. After Louris rejoined the band, Olson left in 1995, the band continuing without him. In a hiatus nearly a decade later, the pair hooked up as a duo, 'From the Jayhawks', and toured, ultimately appearing on each other's solo albums and, in 2009, a creditworthy acoustic duo effort, 'Ready for the Flood'. 2011 saw Jayhawks, the band,  reconvene, lasting 3 or so years before Olson again skipped camp, albeit after the excellent 'Mockingbird Time'. The band, helmed by Louris continues sporadically. I don't know (and I don't wish to check) whether the Olson-free band play 'Ain't No End' and hope they don't, as my vision of/for the song is that there ain't no end to the possibility of a Jayhawks band with both of 'em. Whimsy? Maybe. And probably deeply insulting to the exemplary other members, one also that fails to recognise the actual greater commercial success of the band between the Olson memberships. Such is life, I need both in my Jayhawks and it's my piece!

Here's the original.

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