Have you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.
“Reign On” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
I have been writing this column for a while now, and it’s come as kind of surprise to me how many “favorite” songs I have. They keep coming to me week after week, seemingly with no end in sight. That being said, I sometimes feel like I’m repeating myself, some articles being bathed in a loving, nostalgic hue, others focused on a more cultural significance, and some just meandering off into their own inconsequential tangents.
And so, I’m not really sure what to say about “Reign On,” the stark, sorrowful, and beautiful standout from The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 1999 EP Bringing It All Back Home – Again. Featuring lead vocals from Miranda Lee Richards, the song is a folky, haunting psychedelic swoon, the audio equivalent of watching ghosts vanish in the desert dust. It’s gorgeous and it continually commands my attention, but I don’t have any kind of deep connection to it, nor is it probably ever going to make waves across the pop music landscape.
So, inconsequential tangent it is!
I’ve always had kind of a strained relationship with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, a completely internal struggle pitting my love for the band’s music against their potentially aggravating live performances, lead man Anton Newcombe’s frazzled psyche the source of much inspired genius as well as many an onstage meltdown. The first time I saw the band perform, he took increasingly excruciating long amounts of time in between each song fussing around with his guitar, or his amplifier, or his band mates’ equipment. And each time, the crowd grew more and more audibly frustrated until the inevitable heckling began.
“I need more vocals in my monitor!”
Newcombe began to spit back, and eventually the venue pulled the plug before things escalated. You could sense bottles about to be hurled.
Scenes like this were all too common for the band for years and years, drug addiction, mental illness, and intra-band turmoil spilling out into clubs and performance halls all over the country. They made it hard to like them, Anton Newcombe in particular. But then I’d re-listen to a song or an album and instantly fall for them again. I always come crawling back.
In later years, it seems like the man and the band have begun to level out, my last live encounter with them being a fantastic show, the group warm, engaged, and on point. The prolific stream of releases and non-stop touring has finally given us the band we all wanted, needed, and deserved all along.
From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.