How The Jesus and Mary Chain Saved My Life

I discovered The Jesus and Mary Chain almost exactly three years ago – and have been obsessed with them ever since – so I figured it was appropriate to talk about why!

I’d been listening to Brakesbrakesbrakes for about two years when I heard “Sometimes Always” off their album Give Blood. I loved that song and listened to it over and over without even realizing it was a JAMC cover. Digging on Pitchfork quickly set me straight – and then I fell into the most wonderful black hole of devouring everything Mary Chain I could get my hands on: Obscure live versions of “Nine Million Rainy Days.” Comparing which was better: Honey’s Dead or Munki? (Honey’s Dead gets my vote.)

Lyrically, the Mary Chain cover a lot of the same things from song to song: you get allusions to “honey” and “cherries,” and Jim talks about death, hell, and endless dark and rainy days. No wonder they helped kick off the shoegaze genre.

Despite all that darkness, the lyrics are soaked in often bright and super-saturated Wall of Sound-type guitar washes. The best illustration of the Mary Chain’s contrasts is their cover of the Temptations’ “My Girl.” The lyrics are sunny, yet Jim sings like his cat is dying.

I like all of these contrasts, but it was “Just Like Honey” that made me fall in love with the band. It was one of life’s perfect flukes: I discovered them almost by accident, yet they came along at just the right moment. I was going through a rough transition point in my life: I wasn’t sure if I should move to a new place or stay where I was and continue being unhappy. But when I put on “Just Like Honey,” it felt like a confirmation that I was headed in the right direction. The “Be My Baby” drumbeat, like some kind of hopeful heartbeat, made me feel safe and confident in my choice to leave. Listen to the girl as she takes on half the world indeed.

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