The terrifying thing about Memory Lane is how far back it goes. What were you wearing in 1973? I’d bet: Pampers. Me? I was out and about, listening to Garland Jeffreys.
Maybe, along the way to adulthood, you heard the song:
In the heat of the summer
Better call up the plumber
and turn on the street pump
to cool me off
With your newspaper writers
and your big crime fighters
You still need a drug store
to cure my cough
Running wild in the streets….
Ring no bells? Put it together with the music, and what you get is one of those classics that joined the Immortals the first time a DJ played it.
Whatever happened to the guy who made that record? Good question. Garland Jeffreys’ real fans hung around for decades of thoughtful, hard-hitting music. The industry lost the beat. Jeffreys was…confusing. His music was all over the place: rock, reggae, blues and more. And he was a little too New York: half African American, half Puerto Rican, born in Coney Island, a downtown migrant.
Jeffreys has had a great career — in Europe, where he’s nearly as beloved as Lou Reed. The career he should have had at home starts right now, with the release of “The King of In Between.” (That’s a double pun, first about his mixed race heritage, then about his unclassifiable music.) Of the 12 songs, six or seven are right up there with “Wild in the Streets” — it’s one of those records that defines the New York state of mind. [To buy the CD from Amazon, click here. For the MP3 download, click here.]
One example: “Coney Island Winter” With lyrics that cut sharp as the wind on the Boardwalk in January. And that pounding, New York-bloodstream beat that is one of Jeffreys’ signatures. Here. Watch and listen…
And there’s more. A disco song the Stones would love to have. Reggae with a lilt. A downtown confessional. A bonus track of a killer classic. Catchy stuff, and quotable — the record speaks for itself. But after decades I wanted to hear the voice of the creator. So Garland Jeffreys and I did some phone:
Jesse Kornbluth: Hey, you’re in The New Yorker this week.
Garland Jeffreys: It’s been like 5 mentions over the course of 6 weeks.
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