X – Archive With 9 Original John Doe Typed Lyric Manuscripts, Vintage Photographs, More
A unique collection of X rarities, circa 1977-1979, including nine original lyric typescripts typed by guitarist-songwriter John Doe, some with titles handwritten by singer and co-writer, Exene Cervenka, along with other memorabilia.
In his 2016 book Under the Big Black Sun, John Doe writes about his early X songs: I wanted to tell stories about this city [Los Angeles] that filled my eyes w/decay and anonymity. A place where random violence breathed in & out like the ocean. I didn’t want to tell stories like Bob Dylan but like Bukowski (w/out the lurid sex but a suggestion of it)—minimal, unvarnished, detailed West Coast, filled w/ the kind of darkness The Doors and Love had promised…These were the first songs I wrote that were actually any good.
Exene was a partner, co-conspirator & if not the lyricist, then the catalyst. She would write a line like “Johnny Hit & Run Paulene,” tape it to the door & a few months later that story would come to me. Even though she’d never written a song, Exene could write lyrics on a page, top to bottom, as if the music was already there. All I had to do was match some music I’d been working on to the cadence of the words…
[Doors keyboardist and X producer Ray Manzarek] exalted Exene and my lyrics and compared them to Jim Morrison’s…These were songs you could hear once, probably catch the title & possibly remember the next morning. These songs were meant to be played live, loud & sloppy. Having an actual record that someone could put on their turntable was still off in the distance for most of us.
The typescripts include both sides of X’s debut single, “Adult Books/We’re Desperate,” the classic “Los Angeles,” two more songs from their debut album of the same name, three songs from the band’s second album Wild Gift, and one from Under the Big Black Sun.
The “Adult Books” typescript is on the back of a concert handbill advertising a March 5, 1978 show by X, the Screamers, Alley Cats and the Flesheaters at the Marquee West in Arcadia, CA. Dangerhouse Records released the “Adult Books” single three months later.
The other 8 lyrics are typed on the back of advertising flyers from Brentano’s bookstore, where Doe worked during the group’s early days
I had a day job working at Brentano’s bookstore at the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo…there I saw Farrah Fawcett, Helen Reddy & actually helped Gloria Swanson find nutrition books.
Doe wrote us that he used the Brentano’s paper, because it was cheaper than buying typing paper, and he thinks these were typed on his ‘trusty Olympia’ typewriter, which was included in the 2017 Grammy Museum exhibition X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles. Doe noted he would type out lyrics using carbon paper to make two copies at the same time, but these are almost certainly the top copies rather than the carbons.
From X’s debut single:
“Adult Books” and “We’re Desperate” were released as a single in June 1978 by the Los Angeles punk label Dangerhouse. The “Adult Books” lyrics are as recorded, with Exene appearing to cross out the “john doe’ writing credit, likely because she was the co-writer. “We’re Desperate” has a slightly different third line, “some people call me a creep” instead of “some people give me the creeps.” Exene has titled the page; a chord is written in pencil at the top of the page, with four others written at the bottom.
From Los Angeles, X’s debut album:
X’s signature song, “Los Angeles” made its first appearance on the 1979 Dangerhouse compilation Yes L.A. That raw, early version was in the words of Dangerhouse co-founder David Brown a scathing, literal depiction of the scene which needs no explanation. “Los Angeles” is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, and became the title track for X’s debut album, released April 26, 1980. The typescript is identical to the recorded version, and hand titled by Exene.
The New York Times noted Los Angeles is widely regarded as one of the most influential punk records of all time. Ken Tucker writing in Rolling Stone called the album a powerful, upsetting work that concludes with a confrontation of the band’s own rampaging bitterness and confusion. Los Angeles ranked at No. 16 in the Village Voice 1980 critics’ poll, and No. 286 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. All Music wrote Los Angeles is considered by many to be one of punk’s all-time finest recordings, and with good reason.
“Sex and Dying in High Society” is almost identical to the recorded version, the only difference being the typescript reads “a styling iron” instead of a “curling iron.”
“Nausea” includes these lines not in released version: “This time you’re sinking zero to the ground/so low brow all your friends/scratch out your name on the list/you write them back ‘so what, who cares’…all your friends scratch out/’so what, who cares’”
From X’s second album, Wild Gift:
Wild Gift was released May 1981. Named “Record of the Year” by Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, it reached number 2 in the Village Voice’s 1981 critics poll, and is 333 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The “I’m Coming Over” typescript is identical to the recorded version, with the title half typed and half handwritten by Exene.
“When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch” is identical to the recorded version, other than “I’m wasteful” being replaced with “I’m hateful”.
“Year 1” is identical to the recorded version, other than being titled “Year One.”
From X’s third album, Under the Big Black Sun:
The “Blue Spark” typescript is identical to the recorded version (the demo of “Blue Spark” is included on the cd reissue of Wild Gift.)
Included is an 8” x 10” outtake photograph of the cover of X’s “Adult Books” single by Jules Bates, three 8” x 10” live photographs (one with a stamped photo credit by Frank Gargani,) ten 8” x 10” studio photographs (one with a stamped Frank Gargani credit and one with a stamped Eric Blum credit,) 2 smaller candid photos of Exene, John Doe and Billy Zoom, two 8 ½” x 11” Xerox copies of photographs, and an 8 ½” x 11” handbill/invitation to an X “housewarming & pot party”, no date.
15 original and Xerox copies of articles, live and record reviews, from 1977-1978
Vintage copies of alternate lyric typescripts
7 vintage copies of different, probably professionally typed lyric typescripts, including “Adult Books,” “We’re Desperate,” Los Angeles,” “Sex and Dying in High Society,” “When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch,” “Yr. Ignition” and one song we can find no information on, “Notes on Suicide.”
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