We know a place where you can work it all out
We're going down to Marshall's House
Jimi play your black guitar
You're too late too early, tomorrow too far
And if you should start to feel a little ill
Don't you try to run or say what you feel
If I could only talk to you
There's so much to show you, so much to do
We're going down down down down
We're going down
We're going down down hand me down
Gotta catch that sound
In a rolled gold field sits a house on a hill
There's no way out, no triumph of the will
Try to help you, whenever I can
But you trip me up and never understand
We're going down down down down
We're going down
We're going down down hand me down
Gotta catch that sound
Marshall's House (4.15)
Marshall's House (1932) by Edward Hopper.
Throughout his career, New England - first Gloucester, later Maine, and finally Cape Cod - was the source for much of Hopper's subject matter. These coastal communities were popular destinations for artists, but the independent-minded Hopper remained distant from his colleagues, dryly noting, "When everyone else would be painting ships and the waterfront, I'd just go around looking at houses." He had a penchant for architectural styles of past centuries, especially the Victorian, with its heavy ornamentation and mansard roofs. He rendered these houses with dramatic light and often in isolation. Along the coast of Maine, where Hopper visited in the late 1920s, he painted lighthouses, solitary beacons amid the landscape. Full of intrigue and mystery, Hopper's lighthouses surpass their utilitarianism and assume a commanding presence - no longer mere incidental structures like those in the seascapes of other artists. Beginning in 1930, Hopper and Josephine Nivison (who wed in 1924) spent summers on Cape Cod, where the couple eventually built a house and studio in the town of Truro. There, Hopper's style became more geometric, perhaps inspired by the architecture of the region's saltbox constructions. Always a realist painter, and critical of many modernist trends, Hopper nonetheless inched toward abstraction in these simplified compositions that experimented with the interplay of colour, form, and light. For Hopper, however, architecture was never reducible to mere form - it always remained in dialogue with nature. As the artist plainly remarked later in his career, "What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."
"'Marshall's House' - that one was the most open to interpretation. It's a painting of a house, with blacked-out windows. So I struggled for a toehold with that one. In the end, I wrote it about a night 10 or 15 years ago when I thought I'd died.
"This was before we'd made the first Stone Roses album. It was the first time I heard Electric Ladyland. The real low point came in 'Death Valley 69' (by Sonic Youth) and I came out of it to A Certain Ratio, I can't remember the title of the song. But between those records, I was convinced I was dead. So I transplanted a second-floor flat in Chorlton onto this Edward Hopper timber country-house in New England."
(John Squire speaking to 'Anglo Plugging', 2003)
Top left: Death Valley '69 is the closing track on Sonic Youth's 1985 album, Bad Moon Rising.
Top right: A Certain Ratio are a post-punk band formed in 1978 in Manchester. While originally part of the punk rock movement, they soon added funk and dance elements to their sound.
Bottom: The cover artwork for Death Valley '69, featuring the song's lyrics inscribed on a Gerhard Richter landscape, was possibly the subconscious starting point for Squire's Twombly-leaning artwork.
Foremost among Squire's listening choices at this time was The Jesus and Mary Chain, a British indie rock band that revolved around the songwriting partnership of brothers Jim and William Reid. Hailing from East Kilbride in Scotland, they formed in 1983. Their live shows could be as violent as their feedback, sometimes ending in rioting. Speaking to Xray magazine on 11th February 2004, Squire explained how the band bridged his music and artistic worlds:
Why does Pollock appeal to you ?
When I first saw his stuff I was heavily into The Jesus and Mary Chain and it seemed like the visual equivalent of that feedback and masking.
Taking a leaf out of the Noel Gallagher guide to songwriting (Fool on the Hill and I Feel Fine), the titles of two early Jesus and Mary Chain singles, 'You Trip Me Up' (May 1985) and 'Never Understand' (February 1985), are fused here for one lyric (both songs are to be found on their 1985 debut album, 'Psychocandy').
Top left: Brothers William and Jim Reid. The Jesus and Mary Chain were a vital bridge in British rock between punk and the 90s. Speaking to Dave Haslam of Xfm Manchester on 13th June 2007, Squire recalled: "We had no pop sensibility in our music until I heard the Mary Chain; they really knocked me into shape. The Mary Chain just showed me there was a way of combining what I loved about punk rock and what I loved about the Beach Boys."
Top right: Arguably no other record from the 1980s was as important to John Squire's musical development as Psychocandy (November 1985) by The Jesus and Mary Chain. This debut LP by the godfathers of shoegaze combined killer hooks with guitar fuzz overloaded and blasted at ear-splitting levels. The Jesus and Mary Chain were a band without a middle. There was only melody and noise, beauty and violence, love and hate. William Reid's metallic guitar sound on the record slices across Jim's brooding whispers like razors. "That's why Psychocandy was so incredible when it came out, that it could be so modern and powerful yet doff its cap to Brian Wilson and Phil Spector." (Squire speaking to The Guitar Magazine, July 1995). This is perhaps The Jesus and Mary Chain's greatest legacy, the realisation that punk rock / industrial noise was not diametrically opposed to pop melody, that the two could be woven together into music far more than the sum of its parts. In an NME interview from July 1990, The Stone Roses cited The Jesus And Mary Chain ("'Psychocandy' had a groove to it"), The Smiths, Public Enemy and De La Soul as the best bands of the '80s.
Middle left: You Trip Me Up vinyl cover. This single featured in a fax sent by John Squire to Select magazine in 1997, in which he was asked to list his ten favourite songs: "I loved the TV distortion picture cover for this one and the sonic action painting approach to the guitar overdubs...another example of the endless permutation the brothers found for those three chords - changed the way I thought about writing songs."
Middle right: Never Understand vinyl cover.
Bottom left: Like Squire and Brown, brothers Jim and William Reid spent a reclusive five years living on the dole (at their parent's home in Glasgow) before making it. Their refreshingly brutally honest interviews, such as this one from New Zealand in 1987, set the template for The Stone Roses. Here, the brothers discuss the futility of the working life ("What choice have you got ? You spend ten years at school, which is basically directing you into a situation where you're working in a factory, full of people you don't really want to be beside. I tried factory living and I didn't like it. So the dole was much better." Jim Reid), contempt for the mainstream ("99% of the music industry's record makers just make wimp-out pop drivel. Because of that, that tends to make somebody like us look aggressive." Jim Reid), and a staunch refusal to compromise their ideals ("One thing we never compromise on is the music." William Reid), three philosophies which spearheaded The Stone Roses' manifesto in '88 / '89 (see also the brothers' Music Box interview for further demonstration of this influence). The Roses learned from the Mary Chain that to knock things down that people held in high regard got you noticed. No Roses interview in the late 80s was complete without the band having a pop at one of the old guard or a budding contemporary. Bolstering the laconic defence mechanism employed by Ian and John in interviews was a self-containment; as Q magazine's February 1990 edition declared, "an unshatterable confidence in their own worth and the all important attitude that seems well suited to the times: one that says, You get to go round once, so make the most of it." The attitude identified in this Q magazine was transmitted by Ian Brown at the beginning of the previous year's day out at Blackpool: "Only one stop... There's only one stop." During the Roses' time in the public eye, their relationship with the media was not one of eager self-endorsement, instead, a mixture of disdain and disinterest. They would often display no interest in promoting themselves, leaving many journalists confused, and sometimes angered, when their questions were met with complete silence from the unit. A typical example of their approach with dealing with the press is the Spike Island press conference, attended by the world's media, in 1990. This ended in chaos when the assembled journalists began a small riot, believing the band to be deliberately stonewalling them. Shy guffaws, muttered asides, dispassionate staring, foot-shuffling silences and mind-numbing voids would be punctuated by a proclamation from their frontman that they were the most important band in the world ("We're the most important group in the world, because we've got the best songs and we haven't even begun to show our potential yet." announced Ian to the NME in December 1989). In channelling the spirit of Pinky and The Brain, The Stone Roses had a key hand in killing off indie music. Prior to their impact, it was perfectly acceptable to aim low and shamble, mumble and be twee with no further ambition than to get to number 27 in the indie charts. The real charts were unattainable to all but New Order and The Smiths. To say that they wanted to be the biggest band in the world - then a novelty - was genuinely striking to the casual NME reader. An authentic, standout approach.... that is, until everyone started doing it and rapaciousness became the norm. The Stone Roses set their sights on the top of the charts, yet with a resolute determination not to compromise their ethos ("The respect and musical integrity of Echo & the Bunnymen with the Wham! bank account would be ideal." Reni, City Life, March 1985). This was the era where Stock Aitken Waterman's production line pop, a Poundstretcher model of Motown, ruled the charts. The Stone Roses' breakthrough to the major charts piqued the interest of record companies, who moved to take control of existing indie labels, or invent their own. The new breed of purchaser did not care as much about 'indie cred' as their older brothers had some five years earlier. The upshot of this was that, all of a sudden, indie bands which had previously been allowed to amble along selling 3,000 records were now getting thrown off their label; indie was now expected to impact the charts, as profit became a priority in the new scheme of things. Ian Brown recalls the band's 1989 breakthrough in conversation with John Robb: 'When the album came out, the label told us not to expect a chart position. They were like, "You won't get in the charts with this, you're an independent guitar band and it won't happen," and we were like, "Yeah we will. We've done loads of gigs and 300 or so people would come to each one in each town, so we will" - bands now who sound like us will go straight into the Top Ten !' (The Stone Roses And The Resurrection of British Pop: The Reunion Edition, p. 248)
Bottom right: A 2007 artwork entitled 'Jesus and Mary' (oil and wax on canvas, 70" x 54") by John Squire.
Reverence for The Jesus and Mary Chain runs throughout The Stone Roses. When leaving The Stone Roses in 1996 to join Primal Scream, Mani revealed that the Glaswegian outfit were one of only three other bands he would ever consider joining (along with Beastie Boys and The Jesus and Mary Chain). Years later, Squire acknowledged the need to keep pace with an increasingly popular Primal Scream: "I remember noticing that Primal Scream were getting off the ground while we were still rehearsing and were regulars in the NME." (source: Richard Purden, Scottish Catholic Observer). In Uncut magazine from February 1998, Alan McGee of Creation Records cited The Jesus and Mary Chain as one of three key bands who influenced The Stone Roses in the late 80's:
"I think the Roses were mainly influenced by three bands - by The Jesus and Mary Chain early on, 'cos I remember they used to show up at Mary Chain gigs at the Hacienda in '85-'86, but the two bands the first LP was influenced by were an American band called The Three O'Clock and Primal Scream. Nobody else has really picked up on that, but melodically that record was a cross between The Three O'Clock and Primal Scream. I lived in Manchester in 1988-1989, and that's when I first met Mani, so I used to hang out with them and drink with them and I know that was what they were into. And John Squire around that time was supposedly massively into Santana."
(Alan McGee speaking to Uncut magazine, February 1998)
Death Valley '69 numerically provides a lyrical stimulus; the repeated "going down" lyric (see the influence of 'If 6 was 9' on Going Down) follows an earlier reference to Hendrix in "Jimi play your black guitar" - Hendrix's trademark black Fender Stratocaster. Marshall's House, an homage to Jimi Hendrix (whose middle name was Marshall), recalls Squire's first exposure to Electric Ladyland. One can imagine that Marshall's House is stacked wall-to-wall with Jimi's amp of choice, the Marshall amplifier.
If you'll excuse me for a minute, just let me play my guitar, all right ? ...
In his prime, John Squire 'lived with Red House' for a while, and on this title track, he sets up camp in Marshall's house, delivering an array of trademark Jimi guitar effects. Hendrix expanded the vocabulary of the electric rock guitar more than anyone before or since; studio works such as 'Third Stone from the Sun', 'Bold as Love' and 'Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)' introduced the world to a new use of the Stratocaster vibrato. Live performances of 'The Star-Spangled Banner', 'I Don't Live Today' and 'Machine Gun' featured the vibrato being used to emote bombs, rockets, and other sound effects, all within the context of blues-based psychedelic rock. Squire's explosive opening 20-second guitar burst on Begging You, Brussels 1995, has several hallmarks of Are You Experienced by Hendrix at Winterland (1968). The Fool's Gold workout on The Stone Roses' 2012 reunion tour would see a more pronounced level of experimental feedback and guitar pyrotechnics from Squire.
There is a reference to the Leni Riefenstahl (1902 - 2003) film, 'Triumph Of The Will' (1935), the zenith of Nazist film propaganda and hugely influential directorially (see the end of Star Wars Episode IV). U2's 1993 Zooropa tour wove looped video from Triumph Of The Will and Olympia, with various war and news imagery sources, projected on a giant screen.
Adolf Hitler with Leni Riefenstahl.
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