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Baker's Dozen

"The Spirit": Mike Watt Of The Missingmen's Favourite Albums
John Calvert , March 6th, 2014 10:13

Currently in the middle of a European tour, the Minutemen, Dos and Firehose founder pares down his record collection to give John Calvert his thirteen all-time top LPs

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John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
I was introduced to Coltrane through Raymond Pettibon [artist and brother of Black Flag's Gregg Ginn]. I met Pettibon in February '79 - he lived about 16 miles south of Pedro in this surfer town called Hermosa Beach. He's my best friend. He's been a beautiful man in my life, especially around the time I lost D. Boon. Pettibon taught me about Dada: he was the one who came up with the "four towels" [the Black Flag logo] - that's what we called it. I don't get to see him anymore, though, 'cause he lives in New York. 

 So Pettibon turns me onto jazz, and I had never heard jazz before, so again like with Beefheart and Stooges, I thought Coltrane was just punk; I didn't know he'd been dead for ten years! I was so fucking ignorant back then. One of the things Pettibon taught me was that punk was always there, in one form or another: it's just different shifts; it changes shape. As somebody once said: "The only thing new is you… finding out about it". So then Pettibon starts fuckin' bringing me to gigs! And I get to see like, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown and Billy Higgins, and also trippers like Blind Al Hibbler, or "Little" Jimmy Scott! I mean there's 20 people at the gig, so you're sittin' at this table and the guy's giving you fuckin' eye contact! 

So jazz is so important for me. Not musically so much, more ethically. I mean, if you read some of Coltrane's interviews... so many things he said about music I totally believe in. Like, he once said, "All musicians are looking for some kind of truth."

There's one interview where the journalist asks what Coltrane listens to when he's playing his solos, in his head. And he answers: "The bass". I was like YEAAAAH… it's not just the idiot friend! 

But, yeah, there was a lot of trippy things about Coltrane. Even his eyes tripped me out. What we say in America is that, "he walked the walk". Remember that composition he wrote about quitting heroin? Well, this was around the time when everyone thought you had to be fucked up like Charlie Parker, but Coltrane knew that if he quit heroin he could be even better. And what Meltzer told me -how'd he put it - "Coltrane kicked heroin out of the temple".

And also, Coltrane was a sailor too. His first recording was when he was in the Navy in Hawaii.

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Mar 6, 2014 4:09pm

Cue inevitable 'He's picked a load of albums I've heard of, boooooring' type comments. Sounds like a real gent, I'd love to go for a beer with him.

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Mar 6, 2014 4:57pm

Love Mike Watt, best Baker's Dozen ever. Thanks!!

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Mar 6, 2014 4:58pm

He is a real gent, had a drink with him when he last played the Lexington.

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alex connor
Mar 6, 2014 5:36pm

mike. fucking. watt.
That made my day.
I'm still smiling...

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F Again
Mar 6, 2014 5:42pm

Oh man, what a joy. Can you bring Watt back for a second and third Dozen?

Thank you for this, it's just the best.

Watt is The Man- then, now and forever.

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Taun Aengus
Mar 6, 2014 6:20pm

Mike Watt is the man. What a heartfelt soulful dude. All those albums are like pouring gasoline on a fire.
Just had a thought--How about getting Lester Bangs back from the dead and finding out his favs?

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Mar 6, 2014 7:14pm

Mike Watt is almost impossibly cool.

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Manic Inventor
Mar 6, 2014 7:19pm

A Baker's Dozen that woke me up instead of putting me to sleep. Hell Yeah!

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Mar 6, 2014 7:26pm

everytime i read "D.Boon" written i can hear mike saying it in his voice hahaha. he fucking loves saying it.

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Mar 6, 2014 9:48pm

Every bit as excellent a read as I'd hope.
Countdown to the Ruby Lounge...

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Mar 6, 2014 10:31pm

Blue Oyster Cult ** are ** (were) shorties!! And so is Richard Meltzer!!

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Mar 7, 2014 3:46am


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Mar 7, 2014 2:27pm

This was a joy to read. Brilliant. Love Mike Watt and can't wait to see him again in a few weeks.

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Mar 7, 2014 8:17pm

Not to nitpick, but in the first paragraph of the Stooges record, the word "shields" is used, when I think Watt meant "shills": to act as a spokesperson or promoter <the>

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Mar 7, 2014 11:49pm

In reply to Jeff:

It's possible that is what he meant. Apologies, if so. I was talking to him from another country so the connection was a little sketchy.

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Mar 8, 2014 11:05pm

Mike Watt Forever! Thank you for getting him to talk about his favourite records, I can now go off and love him just that extra bit more.

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Mar 10, 2014 11:08am

Mike Watt will always be the man and one of my biggest heroes. I think the first comment said something about "Cue the inevitable "He's picked a lot of albums I've heard of etc." but the great thing about his choices is that they aren't just name dropping the classics as some might do, but that you can hear each album's honest to god influence on his playing and his approach to life. Thank you Mike!

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Mar 11, 2014 12:46am

Seeing Mike slay in Los Angeles last year was a blast (even jamming on "Sister Ray" in tribute to Lou). Love the term "hittin' the Creedence" - gotta use that.

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Mar 13, 2014 1:49pm

I didn't want that to end...just brilliant, give him a regular spot. Got me fired up like carburetor dung.

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Mar 13, 2014 4:48pm


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Mar 17, 2014 11:54am

I think when he says "second band" on the Stooges page he might have meant "Secondmen" as Iggy would have asked him to be in the Stooges around 2002 when Watt was doing the Secondmen band...

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Mar 25, 2014 1:44pm

They say never meet your heroes, they obviously never met Mike Watt. I got 5 minutes with him after his gig in Belfast a few years ago and he was polite, engaging, enthusiastic and just the friendliest guy you could meet. Love the guy, love this article!

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Apr 4, 2014 2:10am

The many musical layers of Mike Watt. That is all.

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