(Re)Collection #49: The Gun Club--Texas Serenade
Sometimes a song hits me. And I listen to it 23 times in one day. Texas Serenade by The Gun Club is one such song.
I was reminded of the Gun Club by Mark Lanegan's praise of them in his recent autobiography, Sing Backwards and Weep (Da Capo). He recalled how Jeffrey Lee Pierce's voice transfixed and overwhelmed him the first time he heard it.
That intrigued me. I decided to give them another shake. I liked the cover photograph on Miami, their second record, so I started there. As I drove up to the northern suburbs of Chicago to run some errands, I put it on and settled in for the ride.
I was decently into it until the 6th track came on, Texas Serenade. The first thing that hit me was the pedal steel. The brief and obtuse melody line called to me. An enticing apparition.
Often pedal steel is used in traditional ways. The cliches abound. But here I had to start the song again to figure out what it actually was that was making that neon noise.
Then Jeffrey Lee Pierce's slightly lower register Roy Orbison warble cuts in singing of the dead body of a man on the lawn who may or may not be the singer's father. Now I am hooked in.
And his voice. It has a keening sincerity nestled inside an aura of fear and foreboding. His is the haunting voice of the shattered witness and the song is illuminated by its despair. I get it now. Beautiful.