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James Iha discusses the musical recordings that have influenced him the most
May 22, 1998, 11:00 pm

Source: Melody Maker

Rebellious jukebox: James Iha
Ben Myers. Melody Maker. London: May 23, 1998.Vol.75, Iss. 21; pg. 25, 1 pgs

Abstract (Document Summary)

Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha discusses the musical recordings that have influenced him the most. Topping the list is the Byrds' "Chestnut Mare."
Full Text (893 words)
Copyright Holborn Publishing Group, IPC Magazines Ltd. May 23, 1998

Smashing Pumpkins guitarist JAMES IHA relates the tales that turned him into a country pumpkin. . .


SIXTIES janglers with a track from a C&W musical "THIS isa really great song. It's one of the first really great country rock songs, it's very poppy and has some really great guitar playing by Claret ce White. I was in high school when I first heard it, but I didn't fully get into it until I was 20-something. l like the ambling, country guitar picking. It has a realty nice 12-string sound."


(From "The White Album" on Apple)

TWO sides to The Beatles' coin, both lovely "I couldn't figure out whether t should pick John or Paul. So I chose both, I love the way songs can sound very intimate and not laboured at all. `Julia` is a straight acoustic song and.`I Will ' has this strange foot-tapping noise with someone singing the bass part. They're both love songs: one to a lover and one to a mother. Their individual personalities come through."


"THE LONESOME DEATH OF HATTIE CARROLL" (From the Columbia album "Don't Look Back")

DYLAN at his most incisive, storytelling best "This song almost sounds like so!me sort of document. It's a really old beautiful story about this fictional woman who is killed by a rich person who has wealthy parents. What I like about the song is that it is such a direct, honest and pure social commentary and a story at the same time. I saw Dylan not so long ago in LA. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but he was great."


EMI/Columbia album)

PSYCHEDELIC folk with a few loose screws from the ex-Pink Floyd maestro

"I loved the opening line to this song: 'I really love you. . the star above you is crystal blue '. He was the first person I made a connection with. I thought if he could write these odd songs with an odd voice, then maybe I could do it too. I was really into the Barrett-era Pink Floyd at first, before I got into their later stuff like 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. Initially, I was drawn to the madcap character of Syd."


"LOSE MY BREATH" [From Creation album "Isn't Anything")

BARRIER-breaking walt of noise from Kevin Shields "When I heard this, it was the first time I really considered the sonic possibilities of music. the stretching of limits. i can never tell what's going on in the song, it sounds like there's something always waiting to burst out of this psychedelic, hazy song. I saw them once and they blew people away. The guitarist broke a string so he ran out to the van for an inordinate amount of time. He then tuned his guitar at a deafening volume for ages, it was mad."


(From the MGM Records album "Grievous Angel")

POST-Johnny Cash intelligent country rock "THIS is another song where I can really identify with the songwriting: the style, the character of his voice, the storytelling aspect. It's a country rock epic. Gram Parsons is someone who I've liked for quite a while and, in a sense, I emulate him in certain ways. Our music reflects our personalities. . . I think!"


CONTEMPORARY country led by a rent-a-nerd budding legend

"THIS is my favourite new band. I'm sure they learnt a lot from Gram Parsons. The singer, Ryan Adams, is really talented. It just amazes me how he weaves this little story. it's about a guy who goes through his girlfriend's mother's letter and finds some sort of story - and I could be completely wrong here - as to why the mother went completely insane. It sounds like it could have been written 50 years ago."


"HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME (Direction single)

FUNKED-UP stack-heeled soul from a genius, no less

"THIS was my introduction to soul and real R&B music. It's such a great pop song. I love all the different voices Sly Stone used, and the way he incorporated different band members. The interpretation of the lyrics changes as each band member sings. It's got a lotta soul and it's a great summer party song."


"WHAT'S HAPPENING BROTHER?" (From Motown album "What's Going On?")

THOUGHTFUL, heart-tugging Politicised soul from critically acclaimed album "I like this record because it feels like it was made in a bubble. The album is a concept about Vietnam, and it works really well. This song is untouched by pop conventions of the time. I like the story where this guy comes home from the war and he asks all these simple questions in the vernacular."


(From Decca album "Beggars Banquet") ACOUSTIC overtones drench the Stones' finest hour

"THE album `Beggars Banquet' is so good. It sounds like this electric music drenched with folky acoustic guitars. It's the Stones take on a traditional American sound and they make it sound very special. The Stones made amazing classic singles with a great take on gospel. There's a lyric which goes, `Waiting for a girl who wears scarves instead of hats'. I don't know what it means, but it just sounds right.

James and his Pumpkin chums throw weird shapes

Credit: Ben Myers