GTC SUNDAY CLASSIC: Andrew St. James & 5 Influential Albums
I’m not sure if I’d be who I am today if I had never heard Freewheeling Bob Dylan or Blood On The Tracks. I feel the same about HELP, Imagine, or The Queen Is Dead. But there will always be my first 5, I continue to go back to, that have sonically influenced my personal catalog.
Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane
‘Surrealistic Pillow’ brings me home. I grew up in San Francisco, on the west side of town. The west side is overcast 10 months out of the year; there’s about a three-week window in the fall when the weather is somewhat decent. I was 12 when I first listened to ‘Surrealistic Pillow’. Its pink cover had always stood out when I’d sneak my way through my parent’s record collection. I already knew about Jefferson Airplane. I was familiar with “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit”, but I’m not sure if I started to self-realize anything, especially musically, until I heard ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ all the way through. I won’t even begin to explain how much “Today” means to me. “Embryonic Journey” was the song that made me decide to lay off my VOX organ and teach myself guitar. “Coming Back To Me” is the feeling of the Northern California coast, rugged and silent. My love of reverb started with this record. To this day it brings me home. It reminds me of life in the fog.
Born In The USA – Bruce Springsteen
“Dancing In The Dark” will always remind me of falling in love for the first time. I was in the 8th grade when I really heard the song. Although I had heard Bruce, I never really listened to Bruce. Music needs to be introduced at the right time to really resonate with someone and I wasn’t there yet. I was on a school trip in Mexico on an incredibly long night time bus ride from Guadalajara to a far-off rural town. In the early morning with many hours still to go I stumbled upon “Dancing In The Dark” on my borrowed iPod. I remember the sun rising over the Mexican countryside as I felt electrified for the first time. I was a lonely kid hoping to find something to believe in, and Bruce gave me that. After returning from Mexico I met the first girl I fell in love with! It was all so very exciting.
Big Echo – The Morning Benders [POP ETC]
I found ‘Big Echo’ on iTunes when I was a freshman in high school. It just totally clicked with me. It sounds so magical, the arrangements are very dreamy, a quality I really appreciate in records to this day. I had started experimenting with recording & hearing this record inspired me to try all sorts weird stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise. By this time in my life I was pretty certain, I would end up releasing records at some point. I was aware that The Morning Benders, along with bands like Darker My Love, Papercuts, and Vetiver were all based in SF. I think I latched on to a lot of those records with the hope that someday I would join my hometown music scene. Unfortunately, by the time I released my first record in 2013, most of those bands had left town or were no longer around. This record still reminds me of this gilded image of a scene I always wanted to be a part of. It reminds me that It all can happen again.
The Year Of Hibernation – Youth Lagoon
I first heard ‘The Year Of Hibernation’ in 2012 and was immediately taken by it. I was 16 and I felt very empty, I wanted something more from my life and I didn’t really know how to go about getting it. This record spoke to that feeling very clearly. After the first couple weeks listening to it on repeat, I received word that my biological father had passed away. We didn’t have much of a relationship, I had only met him once. I didn’t feel much of anything, just this strange void growing somewhere inside. This record was there for me as I went through that. There’s this amazing vulnerability expressed by Trevor Powers in these songs and I think I really needed to hear someone questioning the same things I was. the record still holds a very special place in my life.
Grievous Angel – Gram Parsons / Emmylou Harris
I am guilty of being enchanted by the legend of Gram Parsons. In 2015 I had been spending an increasing amount of time in Los Angeles and was attempting a move down there. I was turned on to The Byrds record “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” by a friend of mine, a record Parsons is largely credited on influencing/writing. I dove deep into the “California Country” discography, the whole drugstore cowboy image felt very in line with the way I was living at the time. Songs like “Hearts On Fire” and “Love Hurts” are just perfect. “Return Of The Grievous Angel” made great listening as I drove round the country making sure to grab drinks at every weird passing town. This record influenced me to write and record the songs that are on my upcoming release, “Liberation Music.! For Boring People” in 2016, before it was lost only to be found a year later. But that’s another story for another time perhaps.
[orig. pub. date 19. October 2018]
Andrew St. James
Liberation Music.! For Boring People
+ The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record
Liberation Music.! For Boring People
All songs written by Andrew St. James
Recorded at Opus West, Berkeley, California
Produced by Jim Greer & Andrew St. James
Mixed by Jim Greer
Mastered by Jonathan Kirchner
Engineered by Calvin Turnbull & Jim Greer
Drums by Kyle Caprista
Bass Guitar & Harmonies by César Maria
Lap Steel by Tim Carter
All acoustic guitars, electric guitars, pianos, Hammond B3 by Andrew St. James
Photo by Andrew St. James
Design by Julie Schuchard
Artist photo by Syra McCarthy
The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record
Recorded in Berkeley CA. Engineered and produced by Jim Greer and Andrew St James
“San Francisco native and singer-songwriter Andrew St. James is a rare talent who has single-handedly combined San Francisco’s beatnik past with it’s willfully high-tech future. St James writes and performs music that lives up to the mythology created by Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, and Jack Kerouac while easily meeting the bar set by current luminaries such as Father John Misty, Ryan Adams, and other keepers of the singer-songwriter flame. But Andrew St James is in a class of his own, as a listen to any of his recorded work will make readily apparent.” – bio