Monday, March 22, 2021

Dan Sartain - 1981 - 2021

I was planning on just posting the reviews that I had written last week, but had forgotten to post.  But over the weekend I read the news that Dan Sartain died.  At the time of writing this, there hasn't been a cause of death announced, so I will not do any speculation about that.

I didn't know Dan, but I met him a few times over the years when he would play shows in the NYC area.  Usually tagging along with other Swami bands.  I can't really speak knowledgeably about him as a person, but what I can say is that his music was very important to me.

I first discovered Dan like a lot of people, through his Swami debut, Vs. The Serpientes.  I was still working in the music business back then and was lucky enough to be able to have had a hand in promoting Swami releases to college radio stations.   I'm not sure what I was expecting when the Serpientes CDs showed up at our office one day, but I can assure you I was totally surprised and blown away.  What a great album.  A little punk, a little rock and roll, a little greaser and little Johnny Cash.  These were sounds that were absolutely not in vogue at that time, but here was this kid, a few years younger than me, cranking out some incredible tunes.

During this time, my wife and I had just started dating.  She was still living in Boston and I was living in Jersey City.  When Dan Sartain came through with Hot Snakes, I set her up so she could go see the show.  I know she liked the record, but that's the night I'm pretty sure she became a big Dan Sartain fan.

Fast forward to 2010, and we used his version of "Besame Mucho" from Join Dan Sartain as our first dance song at our wedding.  His music has always been very special to us and has been interwoven through our relationship.  Neither of us liked everything he did when he started experimenting with his sound after Dan Sartain Lives came out.  She didn't really like the punk leaning Too Tough To Live and I completely checked out on Century Plaza.  But, there's something about Dan where you always knew the next record could have something special on it.  He wasn't the type of artist you could just move on from.

That became very clear in the past couple of years. I absolutely adored his cowboy song cover album Western Hills.  I delighted in the bristling energy of his Vs. Sun Studios release and I was so eager to hear his next offering Arise, Dan Sartain, Arise.  I'm not sure if that album will ever come out.  I also do not know if there will end up being physical releases of Western Hills or Sun Studios.  I hope all three come out someday.

I'm struggling with this one.  It's not the same as when Sam Jayne died and I felt just intense grief.  With Dan, it feels more complicated.  I mentioned to some friends over the weekend that I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as I couldn't figure out what was going on.  All I know for sure is that his music touched me and I wish that there would always be more on the horizon.

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