Singer in the Rye
About the Artist . . . Johnny or J.B. Pariah is a book-smart and streetwise writer out of Chicago who fuses music with literary poetics and/or works. Credits include his self-penned show, Dubliners in Song, a Celticabaret of verse and song based on James Joyce's short stories and performed in the Chicago area. And he is finishing up a novel with roots in Sir James Frazier's The Golden Bough. Titled Rain Gods, it's an existential coming-of-age story about the quest of a would-be rock star to become the next "rain god," or rock-idol substitute for God. Singer in the Rye is his debut compact disc. About the album . . . Singer in the Rye carries one step further the rock-folk tradition of Guthrie, Dylan, Springsteen, Reed, Waits, the Doors, & Patti Smith, among others, by crossing it with the literary tradition of T.S. Eliot, ee cummings, Wallace Stevens, Joseph Conrad, and J.D. Salinger, to name a few. From the 'golden-arched and neon-crossed' roads of America to the dark streets of the Latin King, the songs cross the spirit of rock with the aesthetics of poetry and the intellectual bent of the philosopher, producing art works that deepen with every look instead of disintegrating. SINGER IN THE RYE COMPANION ROAD AMERICA (rock) It's title inspired by a race track in Wisconsin, this tune in the road song tradition takes a wry look at the great American dream for a house in the sticks & a life on cruise control with conveniently located shopping malls and golden-arched restaurants. EASTERTIME (acoustic) In the vein of artists ranging from T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, & Martin Scorcese to Jerry Lee Lewis, Patti Smith, & Bob Dylan, this song explores the central Christian conflict between the flesh & the spirit, inverting Christian symbols in conveying it's provocative theme. SONG OF CHAPMAN (rock) A dramatic monologue set to the opening theme of Beethoven's 5th, this song was inspired by a Frontline documentary on Mark Chapman's invocation of Catcher in the Rye as a rationale for the assassination. While killing in the name of Christ to save children from phonies is obviously a perverse contradiction, Chapman's alienation itself is widespread enough to make the novel a perennial best-seller. POSTCARDS (folk-rock) A song for those cold winter days when an ex-lover is enjoying tropical bliss with someone else or for those lonely spring days when winter lingers in the spirit despite the blossoming earth. DAMNATION (rock) In a style reminiscent of the Doors, this song involves a defiant fall from grace, the twist being that the protagonist's forbidden love evolves into a spiritual kinship with his lover that "endures the decay of her flesh." PANDEMONIUM RAINS (acoustic) A traveling song about the relentless but futile pursuit of joys that can't last in a world of toppled gods, shamed heroes, and masquerading lovers always in search of the next best thing. A FALLING AWAY (rock) A life-cycle song whose use of biblical allusions, nursery rhymes, & fragmentary passages is loosely patterned after T.S. Eliot's style in "The Waste Land. " Unlike "Damnation," the challenge to God here ends not in defiance but in the recognition that life is an irredeemable process of falling away. A BURDEN TO DREAM (acoustic) A song about waking prematurely from a dream of paradise. The inspiration comes from Caliban, the deformed slave of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," who was afflicted with dreams so enchanting he wished to curl back up and dream them again. TO A CHAMPION (folk-rock) A take-off on Housman's elegy, "To an Athlete Dying Young," this song is part ode, part elegy, celebrating an athlete who quits on top while at the same time expressing the sadness that attends the end of a golden era. Any connection between the song & one Michael Jordan is purely regrettable in light of his misguided return to the court as a Wizard . . . BLOOD IN THE HILLS (rock) A song where the protagonist thief suffers from the modern predicament of being plagued by Christian guilt even though God might be dead & "the only sin's getting caught when your pleasure isn't spent." THE PRINCE OF FOLLY (rock) A "Seize the Day" song in the tradition of "My Generation," "Hey, Hey, My, My," "Prove It All Night," "Get It While You Can" and countless others, but with a twist-from the standpoint of one whose heeding of the wildcard voice in his head has brought only misfortune. THE LATIN KING (acoustic) A dramatic monologue that might be subtitled "Kurtz's Letter to the Gringos" because it basically recasts (ala Apocalypse Now) Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" with the slums replacing the jungle & a corrupt narc replacing Kurtz. The narc's argument for making himself a god is one Kurtz might have made if he hadn't succumbed to "the horror, the horror!" ALREADY IT IS DUSK (acoustic) The title & theme of this song were sparked by the cover of Henryk Gorecki's CD, Already It Is Dusk, which features a quartet of the same name. The brownish cover is of two veiled nuns walking among the ruins of a bombed city that could just as easily be Sarejevo, Beirut, or Baghdad as one from World War II.