Monday, April 6, 2009



Jesse Ed Davis is a Native American genius. He was Kiowa on his mother's side and Kiowa and Cherokee on his father's side. In an autobiographical song, "Washita Love Child," Jesse sang that he was born in a Kiowa-Comanche tepee, (reference wikipedia).

In 1971, after I got out of the nut house, a friend of mine, Gavin Murrell, was working as the music director on a movie called "Clay Pigeon," for MGM. Gavin knew that I had written songs like, "Junkie Jesus" and "Jesus Was An Outlaw Too," and believed they were important enough works to be captured for all time as recordings. I had no record deal or anything else going at the time so he came up with a way to get those songs recorded. He needed background music for a couple of club scenes in the film so he asked me to record my songs for that purpose. He told me that they would be barely noticeable in the film, but that it was a way to get them recorded. I agreed to do it because I wanted to take the songs into the studio with some musicians and see how they'd turn out. All I had at the time were the lyrics and a vague idea of how they ought to sound.

Gavin and Kirby Johnson, who worked on the music with Murrell for the film, discussed with me the possibility of getting certain musicians to play on the session. We came up with Jesse Ed Davis on guitar and Randy Newman on piano. The bass player and drummer were brought to the session by Jesse and to this day I do not know their names, which I regret. I had little knowledge personally about Jesse other than I knew his name and reputation to some degree. It was Gavin Murrell who convinced me that the combination of Jesse Ed Davis, Randy Newman and myself would be a, "thing to behold," as he put it.

Because Gavin had to account for every penny he spent, to MGM, we had one chance and no more to get these songs recorded. We had no opportunity to rehearse, arrange, or anything else until the day of the session. Kirby Johnson had written basic lead sheets for the players to use, but really there were no arrangements whatsoever. Gavin had surmised that coupling Jesse's musical ability with my lyrics and vocals was a sure thing as far as recordings go and was convinced that if the session came off well we'd have a recording that was special and timeless in it's concept and construction, whether or not it was ever regarded as commercially viable. He knew that Jesse and I would either love or hate each other within five minutes of our meeting for the first time in the studio.

Jesse's reputation for being outspoken, as well as completely competent musically and loaded most of the time, was matched by my own reputation as a crazy bastard who wouldn't settle for second best in the studio and who was also loaded most of the time. Because I had been on the news a lot as a result of the Hyatt House drama Jesse knew who I was and seemed a bit amused by me and my crazy shit. When he heard the lyrics to "Junkie Jesus" and "Jesus Was An Outlaw Too" we became immediate friends, period. I played him the songs in the rough and he seemed to get the idea right off and began arranging the music on the spot. He would tell me not to make the change from the basic E chord to the A 7th like a white guy would, but to extend the use of the E chord vocal all the way to the B 7th turn around. At first this was difficult for me but I soon began to hear in my head exactly what he was doing and "Jesus Was An Outlaw" was born. If you hear the song you will understand what I just described.

The bass player and drummer, who Jesse had brought with him, were used to working with him and had no difficulty following Jesse's orders, as to what they should play or how and when they should play it. He'd tell them what to do and they'd do it. It was like a well oiled machine from the beginning and stayed that way until we were done. I myself stood by in amazement as Davis and the other two players constructed the basic tracks for the songs. Every now and then Jesse would say to me, "come over here and do the vocal so I can hear what you're doing." I'd hop to it and start singing and he'd stop me and say, "try it this way," which I'd do. As I said, at first it was difficult to sing the song the way it is on the recording, but once I got the hang of it it was totally natural. It went from white to soulful because Ed Davis taught me how to sing my own song.

Once Jesse knew I could and would do what he asked of me and that I was "there completely" to make the songs as good as they could be, he began smiling broadly at me as I hammered out his vision of my song. We connected at that point on some other level that I find hard to describe in average terms. We were like two arrows shot from different places that crashed into each other at the tip and burned together in mid air.

UPDATE: I have just received information from Jason Odd in Australia. He has sent the names of a bass player and drummer that Jesse regularly used on the road during the time period of 1971 to 1974. Those names are BOB GLAUB on bass and JIMMY KARSTEIN on drums. This information is hopefully accurate but for the time being has not been totally verified. I would like to thank my friend Jason Odd for his knowledge and time regarding this very good news,
part 1 of Jesse Ed Davis and Bobby Jameson