Jon Spencer of the Blues Explosion: My Life in 10 Songs

From Pussy Galore to 'Freedom Tower,' the combustible blues-punker looks back

Load Previous

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Talk About the Blues" (1998)

I guess it was related to Rolling Stone. It was spurned on from an interview I did with Joe Levy, who was some guy I knew because we used to work together at Details. Rolling Stone was doing a blues issue, so I did an interview with him for the blues issue. And the interview went fine, but beforehand I got really nervous and worked myself up and that song was written from that anxiety or tension. 

At that time we were also starting to get dogged by questions of authenticity and our right to do whatever we were doing. And I think it probably would not have happened if the band had been named anything else. People got tripped up. So that song is commenting on or about all that sort of stuff.

We did that one with [Dan the] Automator. And that's using some stuff we recorded with Calvin Johnson. Calvin wanted to do a trade. He said, I'll do a remix if you guys do a session for me. So the next time we were touring the Northwest we left two days or something, three days free, stayed in Olympia and recorded with Calvin. This was when Dub Narcotic was in his house. We just spent two or three days banging around and out of that came the Sideways Soul record on K. But then he graciously allowed us to take some of those recordings. So, "Talk About the Blues" is a sampled from a riff recorded at the old Dub Narcotic studio I basically just played the sampler and just improvised the lyrics. I did a demo on my own like that and then Dan the Automator took it. He basically just took it and beefed it up and made it powerful.

I love the video for that. Now everybody and their fucking mother does the funny video and does the celebrity cameo video. I'm fuckin sick to death of [it]. But if you look at that, that's us back it what was that '98? What a great fake band! Winona Ryder, John C. Reilly and Giovanni Ribisi.

Back to Top