Live On The Bridge


The Jayhawks

Emerged from the Twin Cities music scene in the mid 80s, the rock band The Jayhawks, performs some of its music and is interviewed by Jon Hart here at KCPT.

AIRED: February 23, 2019 | 0:26:46

(drumsticks tapping)

(alternative rock music)

♪ Hail stones and butterscotch

♪ Fire walls, forget-me-nots

♪ Baby won't you take a chance on me ♪

♪ Heels dug in and braced to fall ♪

♪ Hung my holster on your wall

♪ Baby won't you take a chance on me ♪

♪ Flies buzz around your pretty head ♪

♪ Dancin' upon your chin

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ David Foster Wallace said

♪ What goes on inside your head ♪

♪ Is just too complicated to describe ♪

♪ Two bums almost came to blows ♪

♪ Christmas comes and Christmas goes ♪

♪ Stealing all my thunder with your smile ♪

♪ Flies buzz around your pretty head ♪

♪ Dancing upon your chin

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

(alternative rock music)

♪ Flies buzz around your pretty head ♪

♪ Dancing upon your chin

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

♪ The devil is in her eyes

(alternative rock music)

- [Narrator] Live on the Bridge

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- As a band you been touring for 30 years

and if you look at the normal trajectory,

most o' the time the seminal works happen early.

And yet the reviews on this album have always

had, among their best, if not the best.

That has to be really gratifying

'cause you're kinda breaking the mold.

- It is.

That's cool that you said that

because this is, I'm kind of the flag bearer

of people doing best work later

in their life, you know?

Because it seems like, most bands,

they do their best work

on the first their first few records.

Personally, I'm a late bloomer,

like I wasn't in a band until I was 26, outta college.

I wasn't in the Jayhawks 'til I was 30.

Everything in my life seems to have happened later

and especially in rock it's hard

to do your best work later.

I can't name any really, hardly.

Maybe, a few have done it

but mostly, maybe in the jazz world

and blues and other areas, classical

but rock, it's usually a young persons game

so we're trying to show people it can happen later in life.

- I kind of came to this thinking

that maybe this could all be explained

by the approach that you took

'cause it was really about exploration

and when I say exploration what I really mean is,

you kinda wanted to like erase everything

and start it with a clean slate

and your songwriting really began

with what you termed sonic explorations?

- Yeah, you know, I had a real change

in my life three and a half years ago.

I went to rehab and I cleaned up my act,

got off o' drugs and alcohol

and when I came out of it, there was this blank slate,

what am I gonna do?

I don't know what, I just started writing all kinds

of things with no particular purpose,

not even knowing if it would be with Jayhawks

and then when it became important to me

and I realized how much I needed the band

and these particular people,

by then I think I had written

in slightly a different way

and then we started writing together

and so, it was an interesting way to do it.

Not writing for any specific purpose

and maybe that had something to do with it.

- I'm gonna allow myself one rehab question

if you don't mind.

I don't really want this to be about rehab

but you started taking prescription painkillers

because you had an inflammation of you heart lining

and it kinda spiraled from there

and you're from Minneapolis and I just wondered

what kind of feelings you had

when clearly you've taken one path

and Prince ended taking a different?

- I can't speak directly for him

because I didn't know exactly what he's going through

but I have to admit that I identified with him

and felt particularly, strongly empathetically for him

because whether he was taking for pain

or not eventually you start taking it

because you think you need it but in your heart,

you know you know you're taking it for other reasons

and it stops working after a while

so you have to keep doing more

and that's such a terrible problem now.

I'm here to say there's life after it,

if you can get out of it, it's just so much better.

- When you got through your process, it was almost like,

somebody who'd had a physical injury that needs

to relearn how to walk.

You had to sort of reclaim music for yourself.

- Yeah, I blame music for all my problems

for a while, I didn't wanna have anything

to do with it, I didn't enjoy it,

I thought if I had stayed an architect,

I would have had a stable life and I would never have used

and in reality, no, that's not the truth,

music was probably keeping me alive

and so I've come to love music and I realize

that it's not the evil it's the positive thing in my life.

- And when you went through

that process with your songwriting, you also went through

that process with your band.

You reclaimed the Jayhawks.

- Well, yeah, not to make this all about sobriety

but you do tend to have a new appreciation for things.

For what you have.

So, I think I realized that there's this great band

right there for me

and I used to be the guy like,

well, grass is always greener, people always had it better,

this, this, this and I think in general I've just,

I'm not perfect but I still feel like I appreciate

what I have and the people that I work with

and life in general.

- Well, I mean this really honestly, I'd say this

with the mics off, thank you because we got

a really great record.

We got really great record.

- Yeah, I don't wanna have to go through all that again

to get a good record,

let's hope it's a lil' easier next time

'cause I went down to the darkness

and it's not pretty down there.

- I don't wanna diss any other bands but alotta times--

- Oh, let's do it.

- When bands are like, I always hate it when I get a record

and it's got these beautiful harmonies and you go

to hear them live and somebody's off.

This band is so good.

- We're too good that's my new thing now,

I realize we're too good that's why we're not bigger.

- [John] You think it's just people don't care as much

about quality as they used to?

- Well, I've always been proud of the fact

that we make good records and we're good live.

It's true, usually it's one or the other.

Great band in the studio, see 'em live; you're disappointed.

Great live bands many times don't make great records

so I'm pretty proud of the fact that we're both.

- This seems like a pretty good time

to introduce the band if you'd like.

Maybe, we start with the native son.

- Oh, yes Tim O'Reagan, you don't want me

to mention anything about...


- Yeah, here I am.


- Here's Tim O'Reagan on the drums.

We definitely have Kansas connections,

even though I'm not from Kansas.

But the name and then my sister and my niece lives here,

my sister and her family all came out of Wichita

when she'd settled there with her husband and

so, we have these kinda Kansas connections.

- And if they're late coming to the studio,

the front desk has instructions to bring you on by.


- From International Falls, Minnesota, Karen Grotberg.

On the keyboards and vocals.

(fingers clicking)

- [Joe] We told the audience not to applaud.

- Oh, did you?

- You can applaud the band members, yeah.

(audience clapping)

- On bass, the longest standing member of the band,

the heart and soul of the band, really,

from St. Louis Park Minnesota, Marc Perlman.

(audience applauds)

- Ah!

And the new guy, the Portland pansy, no we're kidding,

we're just calling him that

because he was afraid to go bowling

'cause he might break his nails, right?


No he's a badass, Chet Leister from Portland, Oregon.

We're so happy to have him in the band.

(audience applauds)

(guitar strumming)

- The album is Paging Mr. Proust

and there're a lot of literary references

on this record not just Proust.

- Yeah and pretentious, what can I say?

You, know I wrote a lotta songs,

actually I have a song called

Mr. Uptight John that didn't make it.

And I got to Proust through Uptight

but I have a lotta books I can't say I read 'em all,

I'm not a fast reader, like,

my sister can read a book in two hours

but I do read and I didn't mean it to be this,

I wrote a lotta songs and when we sifted

through the songs and we came down with the songs

that seemed like they were gonna make it,

it just happened to be that if you ever had

that dropped some writer's names and then the title

came later when a friend o' mine was traveling

in Europe and she and her friend

thought they heard Marcel Proust being paged

in an airport and I thought, I love that title,

I know I'm gonna get a lotta grief.

But the cool thing is that when we played in New York,

people came up to me and they were from the Proust society

so now I get to get connected with

that so I better finish reading that book.

- Well, that's why I haven't started.

'Cause it's like, Proust has always been on my list

of things I need to get to but when the seminal work

is seven volumes and over 1000 pages,

you don't get through that in a weekend, you know?

- No and it's not something your supposed to sift

because the of idea is what I'm trying

to say on the record I guess that came later I realize

but is what Proust is about is being

where you are and being thoughtful.

And the world is not that way right now.

It's faster, smarter, better, faster, smarter,

updates, upgrades, everything's about getting faster

and I think actually the secret is to get slower

and to be with who you're with at the time

and it's really hard to do.

I don't do it all the time but I try.

- I would think that it would be difficult

to apply that lesson when you seem

to have two different lives.

You have a life on the road

and then you have the solitary

existence when you're not.

- Well, that's the other feeling

of the things that have been pointed out to me

about this record where, what I just talked about

and then there's this feeling

of movement in a lotta the songs.

And there's things about airports and travel

and moving, staying ahead of your monsters, whatever.

And that's just, you have to be still

but then you get caught up in the current

and especially with a musicians life, where I'm home,

I'm alone, I don't go out much.

And then obviously when you're on the road

and you're surrounded by people all the time

and you're moving everyday,

it's two polar opposites

and you just have to find that quiet spot.

- One of the quotes I just came across this morning from you

that I thought, well that really defines who you are,

you called yourself a writer who needs to entertain.

- I feel that way.

I watch the Grammy's and I think, who are those people,

I don't know, I don't belong with that group o' people

although there are artists that are part of that world

who are entertainers but some people

are just more entertainers, I feel like I'm a writer

who has to go out to entertain,

to promote what we did

so I can write some more.

And I like it but I'm not a social animal

and you find a lot of musicians are introverts

and they're this mixture of being HAMs,

I was a HAM when I was a kid but I was also very introverted

and the stage allows you to be among

a large group of people who are,

already kind of in your pocket a little bit.

But you're around a lotta people

but you're also separated by the stage

and that's a funny spot but a lotta musicians are like that.

- We'd love to hear some more music if we could.

(alternative rock music)

♪ Hey girl

♪ Look at what you've done

♪ All in ruins nothing won

♪ Back seats

♪ And empty stalls

♪ Collecting numbers never called ♪

♪ Never called

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Watch her run

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Mainline

♪ To Robert Frost

♪ She'll find a way of getting lost ♪

♪ White noise

♪ Hit an all-time low

♪ There's more to life than letting go ♪

♪ Letting go

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Watch her run

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Over rolling hills along the highway ♪

♪ Far behind it almost fades away ♪

♪ Wind to fall a face a different country ♪

♪ Comes a time one might just find to stay ♪

♪ Ooh

♪ Mm

♪ Amen

♪ To earth and sky

♪ There's more to life than getting by ♪

♪ Getting by

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Watch her run

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ She's a lover of the sun

♪ Watch her run

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

♪ Just watch her run

♪ Watch her run

- This has been so much fun.

We say this every once in a while

and boy, this is sure true in your case.

Ya'll don't have to do this and to come in

and contribute what you do

to what we do is really meaningful--

- Oh, yes we do need to do this.


We need to get our music out there to people

and we have to feel like we did everything we could.

So, you're welcome but also thank you.

- Mutual admiration.

The new album really is great, Paging Mr. Proust.

It's the Jayhawks firing on all cylinders

and just look for the crazy picture

of JFK Airport in the '60s.

- I have a old idol, Eero Saarinen,

one of the great architects

that was his work right before he died.

- You were an architectural student were you aware--

- I was an architect for nine years, yeah.

- Wow.

So did you already have that on your radar?

- No, no that came with the whole airport hearing about

then all the things kind of fell together

and we found these mid-century airports

and fell in love with that picture.

- Yeah, I mean it does look like

what they'd make an airport look like

on an Adult Swim cartoon set 1000 years in the future.

- Yeah, I know.

It's weird, it's retro but it's futuristic at the same time.

- And there's one guy looking up at the camera.

- There's one guy in the center

lookin' up sayin', please help.

Mr. Proust, help, the world's spinning outta control,

we need a lil' bit o' Proust in our lives.

- Yeah.

I think that you got a lotta people that are gonna go

and seek out those books, after this interview.

- I hope so.

- Yeah, think so and we look forward to the next record too.

Thanks again for coming in.

- Thanks John.

- The Jayhawks on The Bridge.

(slow country music)

♪ I see you drivin' in your car ♪

♪ It's such a small town

♪ I know where you're comin' from ♪

♪ And I know where you're bound ♪

♪ I pass by through a place you stay ♪

♪ Each night on my way home

♪ It doesn't help

♪ But doesn't hurt not like you used to ♪

♪ I know now that it could not happen ♪

♪ Any other way

♪ But I still think of

♪ Things to say

♪ There's no talkin' now

♪ There's just walkin' now

♪ And tryin'

♪ To stand up tall

(slow country music)

♪ People say the damnedest things ♪

♪ Do you know how to listen

♪ I can't promise anything

♪ That whispered isn't true

♪ I'm not as bad as people say

♪ No I'm so much worse

♪ Honey so are you

♪ Who cares what's true it's not what they're used to ♪

♪ I know now that it could not happen ♪

♪ Any other way

♪ But I still think of

♪ Things to say

♪ There's no talkin' now

♪ There's just walkin' now

♪ And tryin'

♪ To stand up tall

(slow country music)

♪ I was there with you

♪ Not the other way around

♪ I was there with you

♪ Not the other way around

♪ I was there for you

♪ Not any other way around

♪ Around

♪ Ooh

♪ Ooh

♪ Ooh

♪ Ooh

(slow country music)

(upbeat rock music)

♪ Kacey thinks I'm a freak

♪ And Lexi thinks I'm so sweet

♪ And then there's Mary

♪ I want Mary

♪ Kelsey thinks I'm creepy too

♪ And Sarah says I love you

♪ Julia says she likes my eyes

♪ And Jesse wants to go get high ♪

♪ And then there's Mary

♪ I want Mary

♪ Mary

♪ I want you

♪ Oh

♪ She puts me in a buffalo hat

♪ And then she just starts to laugh ♪

♪ Oh come on Mary

♪ I want Mary

♪ Mary I want you

♪ What do you know

♪ She gotta go

♪ Down to the place where the nuffo go ♪

♪ What do you know

♪ She just wants to be free

♪ Oh my God its the Wizard of Oz ♪

♪ He's took my brain

♪ And he threw it away

♪ All I ever wanted was to be free ♪

♪ You kinda like it

♪ Shelly thinks I'm so neat

♪ And Jilly thinks I'm so sweet ♪

♪ Every girl I ever knew

♪ You know I've only wanted you ♪

♪ Oh come on Mary

♪ I want Mary

♪ Mary

♪ I want you

♪ Oh come on Mary

♪ I want Mary

♪ Mary

♪ I want you

♪ I want you

- [Narrator] Music programming for The Bridge

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We would like to thank them for their support.

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