I'd like to start off by stating that Jane's Addiction is my "favorite band of all time". I feel that it's necessary to mention this and address the question of extreme subjectivity. It doesn't matter that they're my favorite band. In fact, there's even a couple songs (or maybe one....) that I don't really like by JA. I am admittedly obsessed with Perry Farell and most all of his side projects. This post however, is going to be about JA and the song "My Time". I am going to treat it as I would a post about any other artist.
The track is off of the album known to some as Triple X. Others simply refer to the album as the 'self titled' album. Whatever you'd care to call it- it came out in 1987 and consists of 10 songs. All the songs were recorded live, but Perry did go into the studio and overdub some vocals. Aside from the killer performances, there is another major selling point to the album. Many of the songs on Triple X were never recorded in a studio and are not on any of their other albums. All of them are worth checking out, but "My Time" holds a very special place in my heart.
What the hell is so great about this track? Let's take it apart piece by piece.
Sound- To be honest, there is nothing worth bragging about in the quality of the recording. In fact, just the opposite is true. The recording is a rather shitty one. It's live sound, low budget, and 21 years old. The bass guitar and drums are pretty well masked by the guitar and vocals. At least the most important elements (voice & guitar) are preserved in such a fashion so as to be clean and intelligible. The harmonica is also quite present in the mix. This is definitely a scenario where the content wins despite the quality of the format.
Lyrics- The lyrics are one of the main selling points on this one. It's safe to say that in general, almost all lyrics by JA are profound and strikingly unique. Click here for a link to the lyrics so you can get a better idea. Most likely Perry is singing about L.A. The perspective is such that it could be about any big city where one can experience things in an impersonal fashion. I continually find myself walking around Manhattan and Brooklyn with this song in my head. I'm not only singing it though, I'm living it. Thematically it's conveying an image of a dirty town getting washed of it's inauthentic inhabitants. Doesn't sound so bad eh? A cleansing of sorts? Unfortunately we're all guilty of possessing character defects that invite us to put up a 'front' at one time or another.
Guitar- Nothing spectacular about the guitar. It consists of a decent sounding acoustic strumming through some common chords. Not any amazing Dave Navarro happening here.
Vocals- Perry Farrell delivers a very honest performance with this song. In other words, his voice doesn't sound perfect. That's not to say it doesn't sound fantastic though. Melodically it's the perfect puzzle piece to this otherwise mediocre song. If the song didn't have some amazing vocals, it wouldn't really have much going for it. Sonically, Perry's voice sounds somewhat thin in the mix and is not very full. Fortunately the performance is so original and timeless that it overshadows these details.
Drums: They're fine. Not a lot to say here. Not Perkins at his best or anything.
Bass: The bass guitar is not very present in the mix, but is melodically adding something quite important to the song's overall melody. This is exactly what Eric Avery is good at.
"My Time" is quite a departure from what JA usually does. In fact, there is really no other song on any of their albums that offers a similar feel. "My Time" has a bitter sweet bohemian kind of sound to it. Free your mind and enjoy.