Gun Club: A little bit country
I was first introduced to The Gun Club around 4 years ago by a friend I was playing music with at the time. He made me listen to by Johnny Thunders, The Ramones and Richard Hell and the Voidoids amongst others. We sat down and watched them all on Youtube. I recall him watching me to figure out my reaction thinking, ‘Does she like them? Do we musically click? Do her ears work? Am I going to have to throw her out in the name of musical integrity?’ A can of beer in one hand, watching various punk clips – it was a breakthrough. I found Richard Hell intriguing but soon became tired of the many, many drug stories regaled by my friend of these punksters. Sure, you took heroin, and you’re a musical genius, but it does become tired and I quickly became nonplussed by The Ramones.
Then he told me to go out and buy The Gun Club, ‘Fire of Love’. When someone pleads with you to listen through their ears and to hear what they hear, you should generally do it because you’re missing out on something precious which they see in that music. So, I went out and bought Fire of Love. All I could think was – how do you classify this? It’s a sci-fi musical monster, tendrils unfurling, wrenching your preconceptions and reconstructing them. Gun Club were punk, blues, country (what kind of country?), they depicted a uniquely American landscape. They were psychobilly, described as Gothic, reportedly Pierce was concocting a new genre called Rappanese (Japanese Rap) and Psychobilly, before his death.
A year later, another friend gave me a couple more Gun Club albums. One was a reissue of ‘The Las Vegas Story’ which had included ‘Secret Fires’. From the very first time I listened to ‘Secret Fires’, I knew I could never become bored with it’s waltzing romanticism. In a barren landscape, Pierce, in his off-key tremeloed voice sings of a tender love. Against the backdrop of the undulating Lap steel, there is poverty, despair and an emotion that falls just short of nostalgia. It is torturous remembrance of a faraway time and a faraway person. The longing, pleading in Pierce’s voice is visceral as well as dark. It is a story and a picture of a pastoral idyll, as I said, uniquely Americn sounding, marked by hard times but not too jaded to bore love.
There are oceans of love songs out there and if ‘You’re Beautiful’ by James Blunt doesn’t quite capture the sincerity of hardship and tenderness, then listen to Secret Fires. It is my favourite country love song.