Jahn Xavier Responds: " My writing has almost nothing to do with music business disappointments – they almost never enter my mind when I'm writing songs.”
Yesterday I reviewed Jahn Xavier’s July 1st release Bowerytones album Yes, You and Jahn, who I know, was kind enough to go through it and explain what the songs were about. The biggest problem Jahn had with my interpretation was that I claimed it was, at times, a look back in anger and his sometimes stalled career, and Jahn said it was nothing of the sort: “Honestly, one thing that needs to be said here… I grew up watching a million bands fail. I never thought I was going to make it except for that brief time in the early 80s. My writing has almost nothing to do with music business disappointments – they almost never enter my mind when I’m writing songs.”
Rather, of the 13 songs on the album, 2 are mantras, 2 are songs directed at specific women and a whopping 9 are of a political persuasion: “The songs are either written about the politics of life or the politics of personal relationships. Almost exclusively.”
While I got the last track pretty accurately, “’The Crest’ was straight-up frustration with the handling of Katrina – “we look skyward in leaking stadiums, and trail bubbles to our graves,” I missed the point with “I Still Yearn”; I took it as a toxic metaphor for his career but it wasn’t: “It was written after I heard a FOX news talking head insist that since we had a black president , “race was no longer an issue in the country.”
“Black Water Blues” is my direct, sad response to the Gulf Oil Spill. A lot of the songs are more political than they appear. “Five Years Old” is about the treatment of children.”
As for my own interpretations, Jahn is generous to a fault: “It is a matter of nuance. You have most of it dead on.”
“The Miner Song” is written about male violence, and my part in it
“Jesus De Milo” is written about my search for god.”
“Only “Hang Together” and “Under The Moon” are straight love songs. “Open Hand” and “Walk The Other Way” are mantras”
“Last, “Reflected” is a “what do I want from love” song. “I’ll Only Die If I’m Lucky is self explanatory – it’s about my occasional struggle with alcoholism.”
Have you ever heard of deconstruction? I am quite willing to advise Jahn that he is ignoring the subtext of his work and if you take his lyric out of context, it might be more open ended than he suggests.
But, I will raise that question when I get to interview him next week! For now, thanks to Jahn for improving an already beautiful listening experience.