Former Bauhaus and Love and Rockets principal David J. begins his
recently released fifth solo album, Estranged, with a
cover of Bread’s “The Guitar Man,” a choice bound to surprise fans
more familiar with his goth past.
“My dad had it in an eight-track in his car,” J. says. “I loved
it as a kid. It describes an itinerant musician that’s had a
certain amount of success but now the crowds are getting thin, but
you keep playing because you love to play. My take is that it’s
descriptive of someone who’s a junkie.”
J.’s melancholy reworking features Dave Navarro and Stephen
Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, friends of J.’s since Love and Rockets
and Jane’s toured together in the late Eighties.
“I thought of whom I could get to play lead parts on it because
I can’t play that sort of guitar,” J. says. “Dave came in and he
did it in two takes. I think he related to the subject matter, too,
although he’s come through the other side, and he’s doing great
The song sets the tone for an album that includes guest spots
from Mark Kozelek of the Red House Painters on acoustic guitar and
vocals, and ample amounts of pedal steel from Bruce Kaphan of the
American Music Club.
The country-flavored instrumentation matched J.’s mood while he
was attempting to ride out a patch of hard luck. “I was going
through a bit of an ordeal writing and recording that record,” he
says. “I was estranged from my soul mate and living the songs.
Writing and recording became a way of getting over that and mending
the situation. I finished that record three years ago, and there’s
a lot of water under the bridge since then. A lot of cleansing
Determined to finance the album himself and stay free of record
company interference, J. made an open plea to fans for help.
Opening up his garage to eBay, J. auctioned off Bauhaus
memorabilia, including guitars, gold and platinum discs, a “letter
from Fiction Records very politely turning down Bauhaus with the
guy describing ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ as interesting but overlong,”
and the top seller — at $4,000 — the lyric sheet to that
“I was wracking my brains wondering ‘How do I raise funds for
this?’ and it flashed on like a light bulb,” J. says. “I really had
the attitude of out with the old and in with the new. It felt quite
cathartic to get rid of stuff that was just sitting in my garage.
And I got loads of letters saying that the winners felt privileged
to be a part of the process.”