#308: Here Come The Warm Jets, Brian Eno
I was familiar with Brian Eno before I began my trip down the RS 500 list. Not because I’m super cool and into Roxy Music and knew how important Brian Eno was for all my favorite arthouse musicians like Bjork and Ween.
No, I was familiar with his ambient music. Believe it or not, Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” with his record Ambient 1: Music For Airports, which is a record that I was very briefly obsessed with. (Why? I don’t know, have you ever worked a night shift? It gets weird.) In any case, Music For Airports is soothing and creepy and bizarre, and I seriously doubt it would make the experience of being in an airport better. (How come all the weirdest dudes are named David or Brian?)
This music wasn’t designed for airports, but there are some gentle musical moments that suggest that Eno had ambient noises living somewhere in his head. “On The Same Faraway Beach” would fit right in at the denouement of a gloomy science-fiction movie, and the gorgeous “Some of Them Are Old” has a cacophony of slide guitars that could last forever.
Eno was the former keyboardist for Roxy Music, and this was his solo debut. He picked out sixteen musicians to record with (including King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp) and gave them musical direction by, um, dancing. Naturally, that means there are some challenging moments. His voice on “Baby’s On Fire” is so nasally it makes me want to sneeze, and “Driving Me Backwards” is terrifyingly industrial. “The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” almost won me over with the razor-sharp guitar solo, but every time Brian Eno opens his mouth I weep for humanity. Why must he use his voice like that?
According to Eno, most of the lyrics were incidental. That’s obvious on nonsensical songs like “Dead Finks Don’t Talk” and “Blank Frank.” It’s less obvious on “Cindy Tells Me,” which is a pretty snarky takedown of rich girl feminism.
And what are the warm jets, anyway? The prevailing theory was that it was slang for peeing, which is so funny that I desperately wish it was true. Unfortunately, Brian “Killjoy” Eno had to go and let us all know that it was actually how he referred to the way he treated the electric guitar parts. “Warm jet guitar.” How lovely to think about, especially when listening to the noisy, guitar-driven “Needles In The Camel’s Eye” and “Here Come the Warm Jets.”
It takes a special kind of weirdo to create warm jet guitar. Hell, it takes a special kind of weirdo to create Music For Airports. But weirdo music has a special place in my heart, because I’m a special kind of weirdo, too. Getting weirder all the time.
Bonus Ambient Track: St. Vincent’s cover of “Some Of Them Are Old.”