Beautiful Sounds to be choreographed. Just don’t call it ballet. Tarkus vs. Spiny Norman. Gates Of Delirium or just another day with the Fam. Autobiography vs. Art School Slippermen. Coronavirus is not World War Z. When will the shit really hit the fan? Jimmie Luncerford: For Dancers Only
Roger CortonSo what’s this? you’re doing a ballet from Beautiful Sounds?
RCThe fans always said it was repetitious. (laughs)
JCHOuch. Yeah, I remember it well. That was the beginning of the “Where’s the shredding?” whining. (laughs)
RCWell, you have to admit that it was a change of direction. So what’s this about a ‘ballet’?
JCHQuit being annoying.
RCAre we talking tutus? Or is this more Billy Ray line dancing? (laughs)
JCHMan, that’s a whole lot o’ mullet, buddy. So I get an email from this fan who teaches dance classes at the artsy college out here–did you meet her at the last Niagara Falls thing?
RCMan, that was so long ago now. Maybe.
JCHYou would’ve remembered her (laughs) Anyhoo, she was listening to this thing and she, indeed, noticed the (cough) ‘repetition’ and started thinking of it as a dance piece. You know, like with a story.
RCThere’s a story in there? This is prog, we’re talking here. (laughs)
JCHSaid it before, say it again. You used to be the nice one. (laughs)
RCOh, c’mon. We’ve been doing this now, what, ten years? How many people do you respect after ten years?
JCHShit, I wouldn’t even respect myself after ten years. So point taken. (laughs)
RCFor the readers who don’t know what’s going on, Yes there is a story. Which is?
JCHIt was autobiographical of that time in my life.
RCWait. What about the astral planes. And the war against giant cyberbot aardvarks?
JCH(laughs) Oh, man. That was hysterical. That’s maybe the first time you’ve ever made me laugh like that.
RCYeah, this is one of those I wish you’d just let us live streamed these. Your reaction was truly priceless. People reading this have no idea, but we had to stop for about ten minutes for you to recover.
JCHI’m sorry, but after all these years I had never really thought about what Tarkus must look like to someone who didn’t grow up in 1971. And it’s beyond ridiculous. In that moment, I was thinking about how many times I laughed at shit from my father’s generation. I wonder how many pieces of great art like ‘Tarkus’ I missed out on because the cover art was so terrible.
RCOr the costumes were weird to our eyes. Or the expressions they used. Twenty three skidoo!
JCHExactly. I’m gonna do a first. I’m bringing us back from the tangent.
RCWoah. Now I need to take a break (laughs)
JCHI hadn’t thought about Tarkus, specifically, before but it’s what I started doing this for. I mean, I so dug progressive rock. But it’s always mixed in with all the capes and aardvarks and all that astral shite. And I never thought that was the core of it. It was just the ‘rock’ equivalent of jazz fusion.
RCWeather Report. Right. We’ve talked about that a lot.
JCHExactly. I mean, we had all this ‘Third Stream’ shite in college, people trying to mix jazz and classical and rock and it was all uniformly terrible. But I was like, “These guys are already doing it! We just gotta bring it down to earth.”
RCKeith Emerson, Yes, Genesis.
JCHYes. Anyhoo, when it comes to the ‘words’ everything I write is grounded in some story that I can relate to. It’s not Aardvarks or Giant Hogweeds or Slippermen. It’s my family. Some social thing I’m hacked off about. I just don’t have that Fantasy Island gene.
RCYou didn’t go to art school.
JCHRight. So many of those guys started out as conceptual artists. And then just happened to have a career as Roxy Music or Peter Gabriel or whatever. And speaking of which, I think a -big- reason fans were so pissed off about Beautiful Sounds was the cover. I here and now admit that it was just as terrible as Tarkus. Just in a different way.
RCNow you’re back with the tangents. But I agree. If nothing else, I hope this ‘dance piece’ comes up with better art. Candidly? You were so anti-fantasy that you went through a period with some seriously boring art, son.
JCHHarsh. But fair. I was just so cynical then. And I wanted people to focus on the music so much I went too far. I thought people would get the gag. But nooooooooooooooo. Next time I get in that mood, I’ll be sure to take a White Album approach. (laughs) Anyhoo, what was so cool about Kris’ contacting me is that she gets the idea of Beautiful Sounds. If it’s ‘repetitious’ it’s because it really is sort of a dance piece. I mean, you watch a for realz ballet and there are themes for each character and they play over and over as they talk about themselves and they spin out as the people interact…
RCAnd fight the giant aardvarks…
JCH…and fight the giant aardvarks. Except that in this case, it was just my chaotic family life at that time. It was the beginning of my wife being really sick. The kids were becoming teens. Then I got sick. We would have these terrible arguments as she struggled with what the illness was doing to her. She’d get depressed. She’d think people stopped caring about her because she looked so different. So the whole thing is basically a fourteen minute love letter.
RCRight on. So what’s all the battle stuff in there? That sure reminded me of (Yes) ‘Gates Of Delirium’.
JCHI think it was just the general chaos. We had one day where she had a seizure, the morning I was scheduled to discuss my surgery. And then I get a call from the school… And I’m like… you remember those old TV Commercials with the woman in the bathtub? “Calgon. Take me awaaaaayyyy!”
RCSo there really is a ‘plot’?
JCHI’m not sure. It really does tell a story. I mean, now that you know ‘the trick’, I’m pretty sure someone could piece together the ‘story’. There really is a form to it; a reason it hangs together the way it does. It’s all these ‘themes’. Each theme is someone and some ‘thing’ we’d go through. It’s one big family, right? It’s the same people doing the same things over and over, but bumping into one another in different ways. Just trying to get through the motherfucking day, man! (laughs)
RCCan you give me one specific?
JCHLike the sixteenth note figure at 6:36? That’s all of us bickering. (laughs)
RCThe call and response. It’s repeated over and over throughout. I get it.
JCHAnd The Well bit. He really did uncover an old well in the back yard and I really did spend a couple of weeks every night filling it in properly. He was such an inquisitive little twerp I was terrified that he’d fall in.
RCI remember you telling me about that. He’d squirt into electric sockets to see if water really conducts electricity. (laughs) OK. So how does this work? Is it just played back to some choreography?
JCHThat’s may be the plan. What’s interesting to me is that she came up with an outline of her ‘story’ before contacting me. I mean, she heard the ‘plot’, so to speak. And it’s interesting how close it matches what I was thinking about back in 2006. There’s family and children and so on.
RCBut you may change it?
JCHI dunno. Maybe some bits are too short or too long to fit with a good dance idea, right? I’m certainly open to that. I’ve seen plenty of crappy dance pieces before where the choreography just seemed forced into some pop song. You know what I mean.
RCI do. OK, so if we’re talking about it, does that mean it’s more than just ‘talk’?
JCHWell…. she has some money. She has a school budget. And if there’s a paycheck involved?
RCThen it’s real, baby.
JCHSee, that’s why I like you. Anyhoo… I’ll have some more details by August. That’s when her grant thing gets finalized. Which means we have to have something ‘real’ nailed down. Of course, with this here Coronavirus…
RCYeah. All bets are off. I’m glad we’re talking. I was wondering how you’re doing. You’re the epicenter of the whole thing, right?
JCHApparently. Is it as big a thing in GA as it is here? Here, everything, and I do mean everything is shut down.
RCNot quite. A lot of bitching about ‘over-reacting’. But we’re more conservative here. We figure it’s all the Deep State. (laughs)
JCHYa know, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but even though we’re supposed to have not done a good job, speaking as an ignorant Irish peasant, I’m kinda stunned at how seriously everything has ground to a halt given the relatively small number of cases. I mean, this is AMERICA, home of ‘Capitalism’. The idea that we’d endure this much economic pain for a few thousand cases kinda blows my mind. Do I sound cynical enough? (laughs)
RCTotally. But I get you.
JCHDon’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that the government is taking this so seriously. I just didn’t think it could happen here. I mean, not at least until World War Z.
RCWell, give it a few weeks. People will be eating each other before you know it.
JCHThat actually is my worry. I think it’s all relatively entertaining now, but if people can’t get toilet paper in a couple more weeks? Wait for it…. the shit is really gonna hit the fan, Rog!
RCYou don’t usually do that kind of joke.
JCHI know. It’s THE CABIN FEVER, MAN! Anyhoo, I’m grateful to have some projects like this…
JCHDance piece to keep busy on. I also think it’s the healthy thing to do musically.
RCWe’re out of time, but what do you mean by ‘healthy’?
JCHWe can talk about it next time. It’s just the same thing I always rant about with the operas and whatnot. If you take this stuff seriously, you figure out ways to re-invent the music as you get older. What is not healthy is being my age and being one of the dozen or so guys I’m seeing who have set up Go-Fundme campaigns when their summer tours get cancelled by the dread Coronavirus.
RCI hear ya. Being a ballet composer sounds more dignified at our age. (laughs)
JCHStop calling it ballet. But it is For Dancers Only, baby.