Go Tell The Mountain
As leader of the Gun Club, an early ’80s Los Angeles punk ensemble, Jeffrey Lee Pierce communicated alienation and despair through a swamp boogie tightrope stretched between the blues and surreality. Pierce’s date with a death wish featured the usual trappings of drugs and alcohol, and like most who take that path, he left a luminous trail.
Some of that trail is recounted in this book. Tracing Pierce’s life from the Gun Club’s beginnings as a feature band at several L.A. Chinese restaurants to his time chasing his heart, in the guise of several Asian women, Go Tell The Mountain captures much of the craziness and more than a little of the neurosis that was his life.
Those looking for information and stories about the band will probably be disappointed. Other than a few anecdotes, his notes about the band read more like an itinerary than a detailed history. Instead, much of the book follows the faltering psyche of Pierce as he hopscotches the globe. The early section about the L.A. scene, with characters such as Lux Interior, Exene, Phil Alvin, Keith Morris, and Chris D., is intriguing and gone too quickly.
Soon the book is onto London and Pierce’s affairs with bassist Romi Mori, her best friend, and a couple other women, escapades that read more like a Penthouse letter at times than a musician’s diary. And while Pierce’s love for Asian women occasionally threatens to provide insight into cultural differences, in the end it decays into a maudlin love story against the backdrop of dissipation that we know as Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s life.
Fans will enjoy the full lyrics of every Gun Club song in the back, but, like Pierce’s career, Go Tell The Mountain is unpredictable and a little disappointing, if only for all the promise it held.