Episode 87 : Jez Butterworth on The Band + Dolly Parton + Perry Farrell
9 November 2020
In this episode we welcome acclaimed playwright Jez (Jerusalem) Butterworth into RBP's virtual cupboard to talk mainly about The Band – but also about Dolly Parton and other musical tastes shared with hosts Mark, Barney & Jasper.
Barney gets the ball rolling by asking Jez how an early '90s conversation with Malcolm McLaren led to his first play Mojo – and how music has long played a part in his work. A Butterworth screenplay based on John Niven's peerless novella Music from Big Pink prompts discussion of The Band, taking in clips from Barney's 1991 audio interview with Al Aronowitz, the New York Post writer who first visited Big Pink to report on Bob Dylan's former backing group.
A tangent takes the episode into the terrain of Jerusalem, not to mention Brexit and the rural vs. urban polarisation exemplified by the U.S. presidential elections (still bitterly undecided at the time this episode was recorded). A neat segue leads to a deep appreciation of Dolly Parton, about to publish her autobiography Storyteller. An early Parton interview on RBP's home page provides a perfect springboard for consideration of her unique voice, her politics (or lack thereof), and her cosmetic augmentations.
There's no easy pivoting from Parton to Perry Farrell: suffice to say that – in 1996 audio clips about his Lollapalooza festival and the "spirits" of heroin and cocaine – the former Jane's Addiction and current Porno for Pyros frontman is barmy, brilliant and typically engaging.
Last but far from least, Mark talks us through his personal highlights from the week's new intake of great interviews and reviews from the golden age(s) of music journalism – including the Daily Express' Ivor Davis dropping in on John Lennon during his "lost" L.A. weekend in 1973, the Village Voice's Richard Goldstein on the "meaning" of Bette Midler in 1975, NME's Paul Morley coaxing quotes out of Joy Division's Ian Curtis in 1979… and that same rag's Steven Wells lambasting pale and uninteresting Velvet Underground devotees in 1993. Jasper takes us out with quotes from a fabulous early interview with Ms. Amy Winehouse…
Many thanks to special guest Jez Butterworth.
Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.