We have something different for you today. A few days ago we blogged Jim Walsh’s ‘I believe’ article, and you liked it. In fact, you liked it so much you poured your collective love on him. Well… Jim’s here to thank you and … oh well, we’ll give him the space to say it in his own words:
To: U2 fans of the world
From: Jim Walsh
I believe you gotta have heart. I believe that the love you have shown me over the last few days has been one of the coolest things to ever happen to me, which might sound fakey and `”over the top,” as Caroline so perfectly put it about my `”I Believe” column, but it’s true. I believe I’m here to thank you back.
I believe you have to say things out loud. Like, “I have a dream.” And, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And “Love is the answer.” I believe in all that stuff. Every last bit. I believe I’m gonna drop this “I believe” thing before I milk it into butter.
But I want to say a couple more things, answer a couple questions. First, thank you, Caroline, for allowing me some space here at U2.log to contact you all. I’d appreciate it if everyone would forward this screed to any other U2 fans and sites you may know of (I’m fairly computer-illiterate).
Second, for all those who expressed interest, you can read more of my stuff at www.pioneerplanet.com. Finally, some of you asked what new music I’ve been listening to, what inspires me. Idlewild, Joe Henry, Coldplay, Mason Jennings, Travis, lots more. And three records, especially, by Ike Reilly (www.ikereilly.com), Jan (www.jantheband.com), and Tim Easton (www.newwestrecords.com).
They are what make me tick and tock right now, so I implore you: If you’ve believed a single word you’ve read from me in the last couple days, try them out and if you like them, tell everyone you know. Tell them about this new music you heard, music you think can help alter things, music you think might be able to muzzle the rampant cynicism that afflicts this world, though that might be asking too much.
Tell them what I told you about that great Irish-American Reilly’s “Salesmen and Racists” (in stores July 31st), which I’ve already called “the next–and maybe last–great American rock ‘n’ roll record.” Tell them about his soon-to-be classic “Put A Little Love In It (According To John)” and “Crave” and “Last Time” and “Hip Hop Thighs #17” and “Commie Drives A Nova” and “Angels and Whores” and all of it. Tell them about Tim Easton’s “I Would Have Married You” and “Downtown Lights” and “Get Some Lonesome” and “Carry Me” and the whole darn sad-happy trip of his album “The Truth About Us.” And tell them about Jan’s “The Early Year,” which I wrote about and tried to sell to an extremely cynical national magazine I sometimes write for, but which the editor at the extremely cynical magazine rejected. I believe (sorry) that you and I have bonded over the last week, so please indulge me:
The Early Year
Jan is a three-piece from Minneapolis that rocks the way introverts with guitars often rock: quietly, purposefully, no other choice. The singer/songwriter, Jeaneen Gauthier, is sure to glean Next Liz Phairisms in the coming months, and ten years ago might have been lumped into camp riot grrrl, but she’s not nearly that trendy. She wears Jam buttons on her guitar strap and worships ’40s music, kitsch art, Paris, God, and the music/story of the Shaggs, New Hampshire’s most infamous ’60s cult band, whose founding sisters were abused into performing by their father, a piece of work who makes Jimmy Piersall’s dad in “Fear Strikes Out” look like an uncompetitive soccer mom.
As a result, this deeply personal, heart-wrenching self-release is poppy and playful, but serious and withdrawn, too. Because she’s been through some grief, Gauthier’s got something to say about life and loneliness, hers and ours (“You’re never alone on a cellular phone”), and writes songs like “Dreamin’,” “Things I Imagine” (about masturbation and/or Jesus), and the wildly compassionate “Dumb Guy,” which is pretty much about every guy reading this.
Grown men have told me they’ve cried while listening to these songs, and I know what they mean, because “Unknown Country,” “Baby Forgot How,” and “Lullaby” are actually difficult for me to put on. But enough about me; my focus group poll results are in. I gave my punk rock babysitter Michaela and my soccer star niece Sara copies of “The Early Year” (www.jantheband.com) and in short order, they memorized every word to every song. I think they hear what I imagine young girls in the ’60s heard when they first discovered Janis Joplin: A big sister who hurts the way they hurt, but who’s getting through by singing about it.
When Sara and Michaela were in grade school (Catholic, like Jeaneen), they were best friends; now they’re at different high schools, with different interests. But they both adore Jan. They’re 16. You know what that means, don’t you? After all these years of circling the wagons against bad music, the calvary is starting to come in. And it’s being led in part by a petite pistol poet for whom, after so much spinning of personal despair into art, there should be only one thing left to do. Take a bow, Jeaneen. Take a fucking bow. JIM WALSH
Yep, they didn’t want that. Do you? Will you? Will you go to www.jantheband.com and order it right now from Jeaneen (she’s making these things in her apartment, for God’s sake) and tell everyone you know about it, and then we can all sit back and watch Jan kick J Lo’s beautiful booty? And J Lo won’t even care, because she’d love Jan, too.
Because she’s a singer, and all singers can hear it when another singer is faking it. And there’s a lot of them out there, being sold as real singers, but there’s more of us. Showers, cars, church choirs, the works. We all sing. And when we sing, we mean it. We know when singers don’t mean it, and all those fakers have had their fun. We have sent for the cavalry, and the cavalry is us.
I believe “The Early Year” to be the indie-rock equivalent of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” and nobody knows it but about 500 people in St. Paul, Minnesota. But that will change, because we can do this. I believe that if things are going to change, we’re going to need to help people like Ike Reilly and Tim Easton and Jeaneen Gauthier help us. We need to help them win. We need to share.
We need everyone who feels the way I feel about Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Faith And Courage” (touched pretty much beyond words, really) to go out and buy copies for friends, and make it like a pyramid scheme. So what do you say? Let’s start something. Let’s change the world with music.
One emailer asked me if the U2 concert in Minneapolis was all that I had hoped for.
Yes, and then some. I saw U2 at Uncle Sam’s in Minneapolis 20 years ago, and I liked them, just as I liked them the three other times I saw them, but I’ve always listened to them out of the corner of my ears. I started really listening to them again this year, because my job requires as much, but also because I felt something in the air, like the world really needs U2 right now. So I listened and wrote and look what happened. We connected.
At the end of my review of the Minneapolis concert, I wrote about homing pigeons, and I just realized that, in part, I was writing about all the emails I got from you. I know this is getting sappy, but look at this. This really happened. This exchange. This energy. This is not a movie, or a bad song, or someone’s BIG MEDIA IDEA or anything. This is happening right now as you’re reading this. What I’m saying is that we’re part of something here, for this moment, and it shouldn’t have to end.
I’m sorry. This was only going to be a couple paragraphs, but I figured I owed you more than that. You think I’M a good writer? You should read all your stuff, put together. Maybe you will. Thank you, again and again. You inspire me. You rock.
P.S. If you talk to Bono, tell him I came by.