27. Song Nos. 154 and 155: “All Around You (Intro),” The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective, 2004; Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request, 1996
There are songs about memories that actually happened, and then there are songs that resurrect old flights of fancy that only the most fiercely inner-dwelling introverts can conjure up and live inside without ever leaving their headspace.
Why I zeroed in on the intro rather than the outro has been lost to time, which I guess is appropriate because this band reminds me of that same period of time when my husband and I were closest to a revolving door of modern hippies coming in and out of one of our best friend’s home, the same den of debauchery and absolutely unreal amount of drug use we lovingly and exclusively called The Ranch.
We had stumbled upon a documentary about Brian Jonestown Massacre right around that time and were immediately sucked into it. Frontman Anton Newcombe seemed just as hellbent on self-sabotage as I have always been, though his version of undermining his burgeoning fane was far more volatile, confrontational and demonstrative than my own much quieter determination to ruin my own chances at success, and I found such a familiar instinct manifesting in more explosive displays absolutely fascinating. I was watching my exact opposite follow a whole new route on an otherwise familiar path.
So I immediately downloaded a bunch of their stuff, dug the classic rock vibe (like, did you SEE that Rolling Stones album-title reference?)… and then kind of forgot about them until the next time I described my morning-after living room looking like Jonestown, with hungover friends draped over every couch and sprawled in every viable makeshift crashing space.
But this song always seemed like its true purpose was to be the obvious introduction to a hallucinogen-fueled night of ostensibly bad decisions and sublimely distorted memories. I always imagined it playing out like some mock-seriously intoned variation on that “Almost Famous”esque scene with Penny Lane delivering pre-flight instructions to a room of like-minded folks who, having just bought the ticket and are now waiting for the ride to begin, are about to take a very different kind of trip together. And I’m awfully bummed it never got to live up to its full potential, though I guess that just means it’s staying true to the central thesis of dogged self-defeat we’ve established here.