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listen hear! Song of the Day: Kevin Morby pays tribute to Jay Reatard on "Rock Bottom"

Chantal Anderson

listen hear!  spotlights a song we like and think you will too.

This Is a Photograph, the latest album from singer-songwriter Kevin Morby, is an introspective look at family, life and mortality. His extended stay in Memphis was the source of inspiration for the project..

One of the lighter moments on the album is “Rock Bottom.” Loaded with fuzzy guitar riffs, cowbell and silliness, it's a subtle tribute to the late James Lee Lindsey Jr., better known as Jay Reatard — a prolific and musically gifted one-man punk juggernaut who died in 2010. Morby says the idea for the track was inspired by watching a documentary about Lindsay:

“I’d often pass a mural of the late James Lee Lindsey Jr. on Main Street (in Memphis) which eventually lead me down a rabbit hole to revisiting his body of work including watching the 2009 documentary filmed during his last days, Better Than Something. I was taken by how similar his story was to that of many other American icons that were ahead of their time and too-quickly rose from the bottom to the top, inevitably burning out."

"I read that his stage name, Jay Reatard, was worn as a badge of honor after years of being picked on in grade school – which may or may not be why on the cover of his seminal album Blood Visions he’s covered in blood as a nod to Sissy Spacek’s character in Carrie. Because of this I chose to begin the song by repeating ‘they’re all gonna laugh at you!’ When in the studio I pointed at the last Reatard’s album, Grown Up, Fucked Up as a reference.”

The song is accompanied by a hilarious video — which Morby describes as an “ice cream-themed nunchucking Western”

Check out the video for our listen hear! Song of the Day:

Catch the listen hear! Song of the Day each weekday morning at 11:10.


John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org