Tuesday, February 24, 2015

X – "I See Red" (1983)

At five past two, I don't feel sad
But then I see you 

"I See Red" was released in 1983 on X's fourth studio album, More Fun in the New World.  That album (and the three that preceded it) were produced by Ray Manzarek, who was the keyboard player for the Doors.

Like most X songs, "I See Red" was co-written by the group's two singers, John Doe (who was born John Nommensen Duchac) and Exene Cervenka (who was born Christene Lee Cervenka).  

Exene Cervenka then
Doe and Cervenka were married in 1980, which was the same year that X's first album, Los Angeles, was released.  They got divorced five years later.

Shortly thereafter, Exene married actor Viggo Mortensen, the star of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises.  The couple had a son in 1988, as did John Doe and his new wife.  According to Exene,

[John Doe's] daughter and my son were born in the same hospital delivered by the same doctor on the exact same day.  You can’t plan something like that.  It just so happened the he and his wife had sex and me and my husband had sex on the same day and nine months later it happened.  How do you plan that?

Exene Cervenka now
In 2006, Exene moved from Los Angeles to Jefferson City, Missouri, where she turned a barn into an art studio where she created collages from "found objects" – or what most people would call trash.

Here are a few of Exene's works:

In a recent interview, Exene talked about her love of junk:  

It's really sad when you go into a thrift store and you see a box of photos that have been thrown away by someone's family.  I've been going to thrift stores since I was 12 and that was my first mind-opening experience: seeing all of this antique type stuff that was just for a quarter.  "Here's Grandpa's old overalls."  I'm like, are you kidding me?  It's people's lives, just being discarded like that.
While I think that stuff is inherently beautiful visually, I think it has this other power because it has life.  It's real, not manufactured crap. . . .
I'm trying to get rid of [all the junk I've collected] because there's way more than I can ever use in a lifetime of art.  And I didn't know why I was keeping it.  But when I used to look on the ground, the garbage was different.  Now I look on the ground and all garbage is the same.
It used to be that you'd look down and think "Oh, what is this? It's an old horse racing form!"  Or a political thing from Philadelphia or place mats from a chicken place that only existed in rural Kentucky. 

Click here to read a Rolling Stone article about an amazing garage sale Exene once held.

Here are a few shots of the stuff that was up for grabs at that garage sale.  There was vintage clothing:

There were dolls:

There were old paperbacks and magazines:

And there were lots and lots of pocket knives:

Before she left Jefferson City a few years ago to return to southern California, Exene recorded a solo album titled Somewhere Gone at local legend Lou Whitney's recording studio in Springfield, Missouri.
The late Lou Whitney
I grew up just an hour from Springfield, and I'm pleased to hear that Exene recorded an album there.  But in my humble opinion, the acoustic country-folk songs of Somewhere Gone don't hold a candle to the punk music X was recording 30-plus years ago.  Those four Ray Manzarek-produced albums are hard to beat. 

Here's "I See Red":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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