There have been a few artists that remain the cornerstones of RSTB coverage, and without a doubt those are ones I’ve had on the wishlist for the Hidden Gems feature since it started up a couple of years back. Teetering near the top of that list has always been the madman John Dwyer. Thee Oh Sees have spanned 20 releases now and show no sign of slowing. Dwyer’s seared psych has always shown nods to some deeper cuts in the ’60s canon, and his latest LP stripped things back to a decidedly glycerine, serene version of the sound. I’d expected maybe a run towards that route, but that’s what keeps these pieces so interesting. Catching up with Dwyer, he gave an account of how Eddie Harris’ 1975 album I Need Some Money came into his life and the long-lasting impact it’s had on him.
“OK, so the story goes,” reveals Dwyer, “I’ve know Dave Sitek for a number of years now. I would consider us good friends because we were both raised and steeped in music. Sometimes I feel like we just yell at each other about music. We’ve both been there, we’ve heard all kinds of things and often one of us will be blathering while the other one is well aware of what the other is about to say. Then one day, Dave lit a joint and made me lie on the floor next to him on the rug and played me the song “I Don’ Want Nobody” by the mysterious fringe dweller Eddie Harris. I was floored. I felt the same way i did when i first heard “Yoo Doo Right” on acid. This is heavy heavy shit, the perfect session, loose, and it sounds like this song wrote itself.”
“I love the rest if the album, but mostly because this song was my point of entry,” Dwyer confides. “I was open to anything after this masterpiece was poured over my soul. I don’t know much about Eddie Harris but I will say this – I’ve bought every LP I can find by him but nothing will ever compete with your first love – a Selmer varitone saxophone sung thru and Guitorgan humming along like a stepped on hymnal. It’s just a killer band crushing it. I found my own copy for $5 (normally the case in used jazz bins… no one cares). The DJ that had owned it at a radio station had hand written notes on the back of the album. This song had “too weird to play” written next to it. This will be my epitaph. What a perfect thing to be the judgement on a perfect song.”
As for the album’s impact on him, John puts it this way, “One look into Eddie Harris’ face on any album and you know it’s not a joke. This funky motherfucker really did need money. Sadly i never heard of him until after he had passed on. This song has made me well up on a night-time drive on tour. I only know of four songs that do that, but this, to me, is an ultimate good feeling song. Seems like when everything is too heavy for your head you can always rely on yourself, and this song is anthemic perfection in that respect. I play it when I am simply done and it is always like coming up for air.
VIVA Eddie Harris.”
See, now this is why this feature exists. I’d never heard this album, and had been roundly unfamiliar with Harris’ catalog. That’s a hell of a recommendation, and after listening to “I Don’t Want Nobody,” I have to agree, it’s a hell of a tune. You can’t go wrong here with a double recommendation from Sitek via Dwyer, right? Scour the bins for a lost Harris. Do yourself the favor. As for Dwyer himself, he’s busy as always with two albums out this year – one under the truncated moniker of Oh Sees and the latest exploring the softer side as OCS. I’d recommend picking both up before the year is out.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.