Jim O’ Rourke

Jim w/ two of his album cover stars

Jim O’ Rourke seems to be one of those guys that can do anything, and do it really well.

He has recorded and produced nearly flawless albums for Smog, Wilco, Beth Orton, and Joanna Newsom and has been counted as a member of the band Sonic Youth.

Jim has been pretty involved with what some would call “noise” music, so it is particularly surprising that he also makes meticulously arranged and masterfully produced music of his own that (to my ears) isn’t unlike bands like Fleetwood Mac or Steely Dan.

Few albums are as organized, exact, and beautifully arranged as Jim’s, ‘Eureka’.

Anyhoos and hows…

Here’s a few of my favorites and few quick thoughts on each.

1. I’ll start you off where I began. I saw Jim him play this song live and it has literally never left my consciousness since that night 10 years ago. Listen to the arranging on this one, and notice that it just keeps building!! (How does he keep finding space?!) In addition to the weird album cover, it was interesting to me that for a few of his CDs the exact same thing was printed on both sides, the back was made to look exactly like the front. Gotta hear this one on a good stereo to really appreciate the clarity he gets in his mixes.


2. The intro is just long enough to make you realize that some thing weird is happening. Around 2 minutes you realize that the song is actually pretty weird. This whole album has these really bizarre, sort of, braggadocios lyrics.  Around 4 minutes this song takes a detour that is really neat. Notice how little re-verb Jim uses on vocals. He also makes horns sound incredible!


3. Jim O’ Rourke is waaay better than you at guitar. He’s also weirder than you, and he knew John Fahey. And… he has a secret formula for recording an acoustic guitar and making it sound three dimensional.


3. This is a cover of a song by Bill Fay. Lyrically this one may be a little frightening, but I think the message is that another “Adolph” is always right on the horizon. The song seems to suggest that Christ is a better if not inevitable alternative. This video uses a lower quality audio file but I absolutely loved this video of Charlie Chaplin as ‘The Great Dictator’. Interesting guitar tone on the solo.

In the papers, on the TV screens
Pictures of Adolf again
As sure as I sit here there will appear
Pictures of Adolf again

You’re wrong, you’re wrong
Throw down your cards
You’re wrong, you’re wrong
If you say Adolf he won’t come

OK deny representation
By leaders of all nations
But have you got, have you really got
Anyone to replace them?

You’re wrong, you’re wrong
Throw down your cards
You’re wrong, you’re wrong
OK then who’s gonna come?

Christ or Hitler? Christ or Vorster
Christ or all the Caesars to come?

That’s the choice, that’s the choice
Sooner or later
That’s the choice, that’s the choice
You’re gonna have to make

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