Jon James Is Dead


OrangeHeapA question I’ve tended to ask since being absent here for quite a few moons: why even “blog?” It‘s certainly not as though it’s any sort of viable business model in terms of creating and/or trying to peddle one's musical wares.

I guess the answer to that is: there are things of late that have come to capture my concern, my imagination and my attention even more than music – even as music has always been my go-to outlet. For one, I do wax nostalgic for the days when "45" meant RPMs. Brimful of asha.

For two, I’ve pretty much fallen in love with Gabor Maté. But that’s another story for another time.


What if I told you

Tired of your stories?

Your rambling glories:

Piss in the wind



JohnDon“I realize this whole business of people writing about themselves, promotionally, in 3rd person is all a bit preposterous,” says Benson.

So, let’s roll.

J.J. plays a fairly mean-and-loud electric guitar. In the parlance of repelling corporate jargon...


MonkeyMirrorI think I’ll release a single. Because.

Next week.

haberdasherJust in case you thought things here couldn’t get any more geeked-out, enter musical pseudoscience.

As I was in process writing Haberdashery Soul, I’d captured a recording on my iPhone memos and it seemed to be just slightly below (lower than) standard guitar tuning. I'm guessing my guitar had probably dropped pitch due to decreasing humidity in the winter air.

For whatever reason, I liked the vibe of it...

ListerContinuing in the vein of my New Year’s Eve post, I’m gonna keep riffing on contradiction and incongruity.

Perhaps it’d be helpful to try hoisting some affirmative structure upon my usual standard lack of methodology. Outlines were a big thing in elementary school. Do they teach this nowadays? I found them infuriating, which is probably why they stuck. Anger can be a splendid motivator. Ostensibly, it could look like this...

finger quotesClutching At Straws drops tomorrow. I imagine it will be a largely quiet affair, and don’t think I ever really imagined it otherwise. There’s a whole lot of supplementary noise to contend with out there and, while it’s true I may suffer from intermittent bouts of logorrhea, I’ve never really been one to speak more loudly as means of getting my point across. Besides, China just landed on the dark side of the moon and I happen to understand this is infinitely more interesting. To both believers and conspiracy theorists alike.

For those of you who dabble in or take interest in such things, I’m an INFP (Myers-Briggs)... 


I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole blogging deal. To boot – with two albums recently in the marketplace – selling oneself.

I think I’ve avoided that “selling” mentality, lifelong. In fact, I’ve been so averse to it I’ve probably made counterproductive decisions, at least in terms of that ideology known as consumer capitalism. Lots of bullet holes in the feet.

Perhaps the impetus of this is the notion that, to find success in the music marketplace, there are rules that need to be followed. Formalities. Proper avenues. Ladders to climb. Parameters. And, I suppose, living in a bounded universe, there is truth to all of that...



I considered the blog title Two For Wednesday, but it just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? As my dad always said: “a day late and a dollar short.”

He also used to tell me I was “born late.” Which, technically I was. I arrived a week overdue, putting me squarely within the Cusp of Magic.

I don’t think his assessment of my late tendencies was rooted in any magical basis. Oh, well. Being resilient, I carry on...

philly soul

A few days ago, I was nerding out to Smithsonian Mag and came across an article on how control of fire was a turning point in human evolution. That’s something I remember hearing about while growing up but, outside of whatever basics I might have gleaned in grade school, it was pretty cool to read just how the advent of learning to control fire had ramifications for brain development overall. The article also cites how Darwin posited fire and language as the two most significant achievements in the history of humanity.

Yeah, I know this is all a totally roundabout way of approaching the topic of pop songery, but welcome to the weird world of cognition, ADHD-style...


Somebody once told me Keith Richards said all the songs in the universe had already been written; one just had to channel and tap into them. I don’t know whether he truly said that, or whether it’s a false attribution (tried to find it online – if anyone can refer me to it, I’d be glad to know it’s an actual, factual thing).

For whatever reason – and whether true or not – that notion stuck with me. What I do know: some songs really do come in a virtual flash...


Let me be really honest. Let me preface said honesty by saying honesty is not something I’ve always tended to come by all that… well, honestly.

I don’t mean to suggest I’m an outright liar (although I’m certainly reminded recently of the tenet “adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth”).

Small lies. Little white lies. Things you say because you learn when you’re young that speaking your truth gets you in trouble...


Here I am, marking the day of the release of Vairagya by musing about Bob Dylan.

It’s impossible to either estimate or underestimate the impact he’s had on me as a songwriter. There’s nothing inherently special in this; I know a zillion other people would be quick to claim the same. I’m not a die-hard adherent, like some, and I wouldn’t claim to possess the sort of encyclopedic knowledge about him some folks do. But I definitely went through my Dylan phase...


Todd also told me this song has a good “drop.” I didn’t know what that was, but apparently it happens at 2:17 in.

Isn’t it fun doing things you don’t even know you’re doing?

As to other things I don’t know about, let’s try Bollywood. My son is a film buff and he says Bollywood cinema is largely musical and characterized by a lot of song-and-dance. I can say incontrovertibly, I don’t foresee anyone dancing or singing to this track...


I probably could have titled this one “The IT Department’s Lament” because I can’t even begin to tell you the technical problems that unfolded while putting this one together. I won’t weary you with the details but if your curiosity just can’t be quelled, feel free to drop a line to

Outside that, Todd Lester says this is his favorite track on the record, and I appreciate that feedback because his tastes are better than mine, objectively, across the board...


As I hear told, Pandora opened it, and all the tribulations and miseries of the world fluttered out to afflict humankind.

I’m fairly sure that won’t be happening here but you may have to suffer through what will surely constitute my lengthiest blog post in a very long time. Remember – you can always opt out.

I want to speak a bit to my experience of putting this record together...

JaclynSonically, this kind of reminds me (marginally) of Depeche Mode and OMD conceiving a love child on the Pacific Coast Highway, with the sound up and the top down.

But when I close my eyes, I see Charlie’s Angels. No, not the dreadful Drew Barrymore reboot. The original. Jaclyn Smith. Vroom.

Yes, I know it was Jiggle Television...


Many moons ago, I went to a dance club in Shanghai. It was monstrously loud, and there was a giant bug suspended from the ceiling. Later that night we went to see the house band at the Hilton perform a heavy metal version of John Denver’s Country Roads. Next, of course, we stopped by a brothel...

clapboardHere's the first track I recorded for Vairagya. Accordingly, it’s titled Take One.

I really hadn't the faintest idea what I was doing yet. But my sister says this is her favorite on the record; which leads me to trust there's real merit to the notion of Beginner's Mind.

There's a real smashed up, drunken feel to it. Woozy and lopsided...

“That said – it’s finally coming. And I’m a-gonna kiss and tell a bit.”Vairagya cover

This, said the flirt.

Okay. That album I told you about? The “expansive record documenting said disease and decline”?

It’s called Clutching At Straws. It’s done, and ready for your ears (ample fair warning, ears).

But if Clutching At Straws is all about the desperate ache of vanishing attachments, then something else quite different started happening after I was done recording it...

busterI guess it had to happen eventually. When your name is Jonathan, people tend to take liberties. Growing up, I always chafed when people shortened it for sake of convenience.

When I was in my 20s, I played bass in a band where the singer christened us with personas. I got coined “Jon James, from Sussex, U.K.” I don’t know what he saw in me that led him to the English associations. Perhaps the ruddy complexion and penchant for bitter ale...

For those of you who’ve raised an eyebrow at the whole “Jon James Is Dead” thing –

Well, there’s an Actual Impetus of sorts.

As fortune/misfortune would have it there was, until recently, this other fellow named Jon James, and if you search him out (Spotify, or Pandora, for example) you’ll likely find his music rather more quickly than you’ll find mine.

And only weeks after deciding to, um, *rebrand* myself, I caught wind of this...


"The Semi-professional Sideman Formerly Known as Jon James” just didn’t seem to have a sufficiently catchy ring to it.

So I kept the name simpler and opted for a new convoluted symbol instead.

From now on, I’m forcing the newspapers to print this in place of my name...

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