This cover of Death + Taxes with Jay Reatard, who passed away this week at age 29, is so eerie, like most of the art he left behind. The titles of songs like “DOA”, “An Ugly Death” and even his last nihilistic single (a surprise hit on MTV), “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me,” are enough to give us the chills, let alone this prophetic explanation of his process as a musician, from an interview with The New York Times:
“It’s like a Polaroid picture. I’m just trying to get the idea out before the inspiration is gone. Everything I do is motivated by the fear of running out of time.”
Jay pumped out 22 records and played nearly 1,000 live shows across the globe. He was the kind of guy who, despite critical acclaim and cash flow, recorded all his tracks in his living room. “I’m not trying to be low fidelity,” he said. “I’m trying to be handmade. You don’t go into a bakery and say, ‘That apple pie is handmade, that’s a ‘lo-fi’ pie.’ You realize the crust looks a little rough around the edges. It looks like somebody’s grandma made this, and all of a sudden it’s comforting.”
Jay, of course, wasn’t born with the name Reatard—he took it to give himself up to the uphill battle rather than going in the “John Cougar” Mellencamp direction. From his raw angst channeled though headbanging, to his pop poems strung alongside an acoustic guitar, if there is one thing Jay accomplished in his life, it was championing honest work. Jay had so much more to say, and we wish he got the chance to say it. But, we’ll let him give himself his own eulogy, by way of rocking out.
If you’re not all cried out, I highly recommend checking out this short doc about him, “Waiting For Something.” R.I.P., Jay. We hope wherever you are, there’s a flying guitar.