In a fourteen-block radius of New York’s East Village, the epicenter of cool, he was the man of the ’80s. Everyone wanted to be John Lurie. Or sleep with him. Or smack him. At least that’s what the connoisseurs rumored. They were probably right. Lurie has attracted attention, aroused desires, provoked envy. He could do whatever he wanted. dressing too. Too wide, too long, too worn. Everything became trendy. He was easy-going, skinny, over five feet tall, lethargic: hip. And played alto saxophone. Not like Charlie Parker, more like Johnny Hodges. It didn’t matter. The fake jazz of his band Lounge Lizards came from the pinch of Ornette Coleman salt, which he mixed with the sweet Ellington sound of Hodges. Fake jazz came after punk jazz and led to no jazz. That was consistent timing.
But how exactly and why all this happened, the gods know. Lurie was just there and right in the middle, had talent, also in showing it by apparently not attaching importance to it. Naturally, so does charisma. He met the right people at the right time. Perhaps more precisely: the people who ticked like him. Tom Waits, for example, who picked up his songs like fags on the street and had his Budweiser written down in the corner bar at the bitter end of SoHo. And Jim Jarmusch, who brought all these creatively loitering characters to the big screen: Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train. All cult. There was no protesting against anything and nothing to stand up for, but got along without anything.
Much later, Lurie took stock of the aesthetically indifferent generation with enough sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ jazz: “Of the real artists from that time, I’m the only one who’s still alive and has his own liver. ” Oh well! He too has paid his tribute. With addiction, paranoia, physical ailments, self-isolation. When he left his apartment in the Village after a period of quiet contemplation, he said nobody knew who he was. You have forgotten him. That wasn’t true. On the contrary. The celebrity had got mythological format. Whatever was on Lurie’s mind was still valid. He performed successfully with the Lounge Lizards in various occupations until the late 1990s. In addition, he wrote the soundtracks for films such as “Get Shorty” and “Lulu on the Bridge”, invented the musician Marvin Pontiac, from whom he brought out a bizarre recording of his greatest hits, founded his own label Strange & Beautiful, developed the completely crazy TV series “Fishing with John” and began to cultivate his early talent for naively surreal painting again after his health condition made it impossible to tour with the band and other activities. And linked the idea of non-fishing with non-art: “Painting with John” is probably the most adventurous art school that has ever been broadcast.
John Lurie, born in Minneapolis, America’s cold storage chamber, and raised in New Orleans, the country’s hellfire, was impregnated with the blues for all events in life at an early age as a harmonica player with Mississippi Fred McDowell and Canned Heat. Last year he published his memoir, The History of Bones, about the wild 80’s in New York. And about himself, even if the character John Lurie is hard to grasp. Not even from Lurie himself. Today he turns seventy.