[This post was originally mistakenly credited under the name Casey Jarman. Chris Stamm is the author of this and of all the Upper Extremities columns.]

Better Than Something: Jay Reatard

See, I have this problem: Get me in a gabby mood and mention Jay Reatard and good luck shutting me up with anything less than a really wet french kiss. The man rearranged me for the better, blew some dust off the part of my brain I reserve for appreciating loud sound, helped me learn how to deeply love music again. I will always adore him.


I was well on my way to using music solely as medication for certain dour states of mind (I believe I listened to nothing but Antony and the Johnsons for an entire year) when Blood Visions came along and reminded me that the pissed off, tuneful chaos of punk rock—that snotty stuff I once thought I could never get enough of, until I finally totally got enough of it—was still sharp and stinging enough to make my insides quiver.

He made a million records before Blood Visions, with bands like the Reatards, Lost Sounds, Final Solutions, Bad Times, Destruction Unit, Angry Angles, et al. All of them were good to great, but Reatard was not truly fucking amazing until 2006's Blood Visions, from which point he kept being truly fucking amazing until 2010, when he died in the middle of a January night.


So I only loved the living man for a few years, but they were good years, years that found me feeding off Reatard's mania, using the seemingly infinite energy in his work to fuel my excursions back into punk, back into punk's myriad sub-levels, back into that magic feeling I used to get when a song made me want to find a way to fuck and fight and cry and run a marathon all at once.

I managed to find quite a lot of music that thrilled me in that special way. I write about it here weekly. But none of it is as good as the music Jay Reatard made. I'll probably be proven wrong, and I hope I am, but I don't think any person or band is going to come within spitting distance of Jay's greatness for a very long time. That's okay, though. The music that gets close to channeling whatever crazy spirit guided Jay is just about as good as it gets, and I'm glad Jay set me on the path to chasing it down again.

And that, finally, is all I have to say about Jay Reatard. Until someone gets me going again.

SEE IT: Better Than Something plays Clinton Street Theater at 7 and 9 pm Friday-Thursday, March 2-8.