true love : john doe + exene solo acoustic
Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
10 January 2009
This was a grown-up show. This show was gloriously grown-up, adult, we are old, dammit, we want to sit the fuck down and listen. It was JD in a suit and Exene in her schoolmarm dress (with the exception of the scarlet Fluevog schoolmarm-ish boots) and felt like we were going to church meeting rather than sitting in a rock club watching a rock show.
I loved every second of it.
Years ago, after a Knitters show, I was standing around with a bunch of people and I was talking to this guy who was a total No Depression country guy, who was explaining enthusiastically about how he had come to embrace X through the Knitters, that once he heard the harmonies he *got it* – June Carter and JC, Tammy and George – and there was no disconnect in his mind, and even in the minds of some other more hardcore country folks. (And for me, it was the reverse, my young self opening up more to country when those names were invoked describing John and Exene.)
And this is what they did tonight. George Jones songs and “Wreck On The Highway” (no, not THAT one) and another handful of country ballads, songs that fit them and fit the dynamic and fit the relationship, and then the X songs, good choices, “Burning House of Love” and “See How We Are” and hell, even “Wrecking Ball”. Most of the time people were quiet and attentive, and then others we were singing along together, sitting there, just like we were at church.
They were sweet and they were funny and they were all the best things about the two of them, alone and together.
It’s harder to play an acoustic show than a big loud rock show, no noise to hide behind; when we called them back for a third encore, John explained that this was, quite literally, all they knew; that they had rehearsed really hard, but this was it. “Los Angeles!” shouted the stupid hipsters behind us. “On *acoustic guitar*?” John asked. “Really? Really REALLY?” he said, shaking his head.
It was beautiful and heartbreaking and affirming and it wasn’t a sad “oh god I feel so old,” it was more like a “goddamn, I’ve seen and done some things, let me tell you” kind of moment.
Opener Justin Townes Earle was an absolute delight. I was prepared to be, well, underwhelmed (hey, blame Jakob Dylan for that) but he was wonderful. Fantastic stage presence, great voice, and he is a phenomenal guitar player, better than his father. Of course, this was the excuse for the stupid drunk hipster children to behave as though they were extras in “Hee-Haw” because it was “country” – it was rude and disrespectful and I would have smacked them – except that he ended the set by saying, “This is a song by my favorite band from Minneapolis,” then there were the unmistakeable chords of what should be the state song of Minnesota, “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Stupid drunk hipster #1 said, loudly, “Hey, look, she knows all the words to this song!” and repeated it to her friend, who also had noticed the same thing. Loudly. Shrill might be a better word.
When the song ended, she leaned over and babbled, “You knew all the words to that song!”
“Yes, it’s by the Replacements.”
Revenge is sweet indeed.
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