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Rate Johnny Guitar
5 Stars 8%  8%  [ 2 ]
4 Stars 46%  46%  [ 12 ]
3 Stars 31%  31%  [ 8 ]
2 Stars 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
1 Star 12%  12%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 26
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 Post subject: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Fri December 28, 2012 6:17 pm 
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Johnny Guitar


Johnny "Guitar" Watson starin' at me
Riding on 3 wheels, a woman on his knee
With a leg under a red dress, I wish I could see
Further north a warmth alive & lingerin'

Now Johnny he be havin' lots of women
The reason he be smilin' know to him

On the left the girl in red so innocent
Never sheds her clothes even when she goes to bed
The type of girl responsible foriginal sin
Can't help but wonder where & who she is

And the memory is always getting clearer
For that's 30 years or more I've loved her so
And how I need to know, why she's with him

And I sleep with the light on, in case she comes
And I sleep with the light on, in case she...

Recently as I was waitin' on a dream
She came to visit lost & lonely me
She leaned over the bed & with her lips above my head
She asked if I had seen her Johnny

Oh and I hide my disappointment
'Cause for years I had been hopin'
Oh yea I had been hopin'
That when she came, she would come for me

I hide my disappointment
'Cause for years I had been hopin'
That when she came
she'd be comin' just for me




This is one of my favorite tracks on the new record, and one of the first ‘playful’ pearl jam songs that also manages to say something of substance (or be genuinely fun), which is hard to do in general, let alone for a band that (at least publically) takes itself as seriously as Pearl Jam does.

The contrast between the story told and the music is striking, and deliberate I think. It’s forceful, pushing itself along with an affecting determination, like it’s trying to take the listener somewhere important and is worried they won’t want to follow(force of nature moves the same way,although it’s a slower, sturdier song), especially in the intro, bridge, and outro, which try to give the song a vaguely portentous weight to it. The guitar interplay here is pretty nice, and like much of Backspacer deceptively simple (plus there is that subtle undertone of 70s pimp guitar that just fits the story so well).

But Eddie is the hero on this one. As I’ve said elsewhere, this is one of the most impressive vocal melodies he’s ever written (I especially love the way he comes out of the bridge and into the last verse—amazing), and a stand out on an album full of great ones. There’s the same level of energy and agitation that characterized the best songs on S/T, but the undertone is playful instead of angry, filthy, but clever enough so that it isn’t crass (‘And I sleep with the lights on in case she comes…’ and the brilliant ‘further north a warmth alive and lingering’)


The lyrics tell the story of an thirty plus year fantasy, an obsession the singer had with a beautiful girl he found an album cover. The whole song is about the singer lying to himself—that the girl is ‘real’, that she’s somehow pure and virtuous despite being with a lecherous musician, that she’s somehow innocent even while she’s corrupting his thoughts (I really love the ‘never sheds her clothes even when she goes to bed/the type of girl responsible for original sin lyrics and the way they evoke storytellers like Mark Knopfler and Bruce Springsteen), and that they’ll someday be together. Even at the end of the story, he lies to his fantasy because he doesn’t want to disappoint her


The song gets gradually more frantic as it progresses (listen for the way he exists the bridge and the breakdown at the end), and Eddie chants the final lyrics like a mantra or totem, something he has to hold onto and believe in because the consequences of not doing so are too awful to contemplate. We’ve seen these kinds of climaxes in Pearl Jam songs before—the wordless vocalizations expressing a pain beyond words (see the end of Black, Jeremy, I Got Shit, although that one is primarily musical)—a primal hurt that we might never recover from. But at the same time you can almost see Eddie smiling as he’s singing this one, like he knows how ridiculous this all is—the music and the vocals are playful send ups of past moments in their catalog, acknowledging the direction they’d have taken the song in the past, but not this time.


And in that respect I think Johnny Guitar is other side of whatever coin I Got Shit is on. I Got Shit is a desolate portrait of a man consumed by his fantasy, by an unrequited love that’s destroyed his possibility for anything real. It’s a warning. But Johnny Guitar is ultimately a celebratory song. It alludes to something ominous but then turns into a playful riff on those themes. Rather than warn us, it reminds us that there’s nothing harmful about indulging in, or even celebrating our ridiculous fantasies, that our lives are richer and maybe even healthier for having them providing we recognize them for what they are. In a weird way, the ability to let go and be immature here is a sign of maturity


4 stars.



old thread archived here

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 9:00 am 
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I love this song.

That thin, fuzzy sound on the drums (particularly noticeable on the opening drum hit)...is that intentional? I can only presume so, but god, it's awful.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 9:05 am 
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Great little tune. A highlight of Backspacer!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 11:49 am 
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This song seems to have an "Evacuation-ish" cult of haters out there.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 11:53 am 
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one of my favorites on backspacer, but I do wish it went on longer--maybe extending that filthy sounding bridge.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 12:35 pm 
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I love this song, but on the first listen or 2 i didn't like it, i think i even said that it sounded like they tried to smash 2 incomplete songs into one, but then i listened again and have been in love with it ever since


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 5:36 pm 
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Really nice tune. :thumbsup:


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 10:12 pm 
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Definitely one of the highlights of this album for me. I also wish it had a longer bridge/outro

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sat June 29, 2013 11:48 pm 
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This is a song I should like, but don't. It's fun and sort of clever, but I get no pleasure listening to it. I usually skip it (as I do with probably 1/3 of the tracks on Backspacer).

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Sun June 30, 2013 12:49 am 
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HardTI wrote:
This is a song I should like, but don't. It's fun and sort of clever, but I get no pleasure listening to it. I usually skip it (as I do with probably 1/3 of the tracks on Backspacer).

My wife just can't get into johnny guitar either, but its definitely one of my favorites on Backspacer


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 3:29 pm 
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Love the vocals on this song. The lost, meandering, out of time singing that parallels the desperation of the "hero".

The music is nothing special, but the lyrics and presentation make this song.

Definitely agree with the I Got Shit sister song. That song is just so dark, cruel and searingly nasty (love it) that this little poppy number is a great compliment.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 5:38 pm 
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Favourite song on backspacer! Fun without sounding forced, wish it was longer.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 6:52 pm 
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johnny guitar is a 4 or 5 star song for me. i voted 5 just because.

i actually commented in a pit thread that was dissing johnny guitar, and ended up doing an overview of the track. it's a favorite on backspacer, in part because it actually feels like a inspired song as opposed to a rehash. but i'm also kind of amused by the fact that ed wrote an entire lyric based on his fantasy experiences while taking a leak.

now i certainly could have some details or impressions wrong here, but below was my take on the song:

http://www.twofeetthick.com/2009/09/ed- ... -by-track/

Quote:
Johnny Guitar: An angular Elvis Costello-like number motivated by an album-cover photo from a record by pimp-blues guitarist Johnny (Guitar) Watson that was pasted over a men’s room urinal. “It’s actually not the first time we’ve got our inspiration from something on a bathroom wall. It’s a made-up story about a kid falling in love with a girl on a record cover. I imagine that must have happened a few times.”


i can't seem to find it at the moment but there is a picture or video somewhere out there of eddie in front of this urinal wall (it's in their studio or rehearsal space) and you clearly see johnny guitar watson's 'what the hell is this?' album cover in the background. he's obviously seen this hundreds of times, since this is where they play and he probably goes to the bathroom at least once when he's there.

so eddie's spent countless minutes there, looking at this record sleeve, and has questions about it. have you never looked at a record sleeve and thought about the story behind it, what it's subjects are doing or what they mean? or make up a story to fit the record inside?

eddie looks at this record and something about the "woman on his knee" sticks out to him. he "can't help but wonder where & who she is" and it's been this way for 30 years ('what the hell is this?' came out in 1979, 'backspacer' in 2009). he "sleeps with the light on in case she comes"- ed routinely zones out (daydreams) on this record sleeve hoping the answer will come to him some day.

then that some day comes. "recently as i was waiting on a dream"- literally, ed's taking a piss here- his hope about this woman is crushed when his "dream" reveals to him she is only interested in johnny. it's crushing- he'd been daydreaming about this moment for years and it's ultimately a let down.

so yes, it's a made up story by eddie (with the added comedy of being conceived while urinating). but if you look into it, it's pretty clever in its own way, and its foundation is hardly any worse than rehashing the "get in a car and leave this place" idea like the song "gone" is. and, frankly, the music it is set to is far more interesting than the purposely anthemic 'amongst the waves' or 'unthought known'. are its lyrics as deep as immortality or its music as memorable as even flow? no. but 'johnny guitar' is a good song, and one of the best songs on backspacer. period.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 8:04 pm 
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I gave it 4 Stars. It might be my favorite track on Backspacer.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 8:18 pm 
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3 stars...which is coincidentally the highest mark any song accomplishes on Backspacer.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 8:59 pm 
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Great track.



Sounds like nothing they'd done before.

I actually think Backspacer's a solid record. Amongst the Waves and Supersonic are the only tracks that do nothing for me, but everything else is good or great.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 9:55 pm 
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EJ wrote:
3 stars...which is coincidentally the highest mark any song accomplishes on Backspacer.


Yeah, I agree it's my favorite (or that and The End are tied). It doesn't bowl me over, but it's got some pretty cool stuff in it. I know people think Eddie's going for self-parody on his vocal, but I'm just not sure; it always sticks out way too much in a bad way. But besides that, it's a cool idea and the music's pretty awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 10:06 pm 
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I like this song a lot, but I REALLY wish they hadn't faded it out like they did.

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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 10:08 pm 
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Does this song contain any humor?


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 Post subject: Re: Song of the Moment: Johnny Guitar
PostPosted: Mon July 01, 2013 10:16 pm 
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best song on the album for me. Its too bad its so short. I think its one of the few ideas on the album that worked, but it seems like a one time experiment. If they want to continue with goofy slight songs, this would be a good one to riff off of, instead of the others on Backspacer.

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