Jay Reatard locations

Posted on April 19, 2012 by peter bell

Jay Reatard at the Bowery Ballroom, 2008

When people talk about the music of Memphis, TN, many legendary artists, groups and labels come to mind. After all, Memphis is the home of Sun Studios– where Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley made their earliest recordings. Elvis pilgrims still flock in droves to Graceland to take in the dated opulence of the music icon. Stax Records of Memphis helped shaped the concept of Southern soul music. The list goes on and on.

But Memphis didn’t stop making music in the 70’s. Recent years have seen the emergence of a number of post-punk garage rock artists that are making some pretty incredible stuff: The Oblivians, Reigning Sound, The Parting Gifts (okay, those are all Greg Cartwright bands), and Jay Reatard.

Jay Reatard died on January 13, 2010 at the age of 29. In his short life, Reatard (real name Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr.) had recorded music with at least eight different bands. A dedicated and prolific songwriter, his solo work includes three different compilations of singles and two solo studio albums. All told, his website states that he recorded 22 full-length albums, had over 100 releases, and played over a thousand shows in 20 different countries.

Jay Reatard, Watch Me Fall, Matador Records

I came to Jay Reatard’s work relatively late, after listening to Nobunny’s Love Visions and trying to trace that album’s influences. I was blown away by Blood Visions, and even more so by Watch Me Fall. It’s a bittersweet experience learning to respect and admire an artist who won’t be making anything new ever again. After seeing the bio-documentary Better Than Something, it became clear that the accepted public perception of Reatard (a complete a**hole) was only one facet of this complex individual’s personality.

It was interesting to see where Jay Reatard was going with his music. The film shows him talking about taking cello lessons from his neighborhood- listen to “There Is No Sun” on Watch Me Fall. He was also considering a country album release as Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr. While many bands and artists seem to exhaust their best work early on (sorry, Weezer and Violent Femmes), Jay Reatard was only getting better.

While it may be fruitless to lament the loss of Reatard at this point, I thought it might be beneficial for his fans to compile some locations that formed and inspired his life and music.

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