JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN: Cuckoo Bird Sings a Song: LP

Apr 08, 2019

I don’t usually say such things, but I can’t think of how to get started, so here goes: Texas troubadour John Wesley Coleman is back with his ninth album in as many years. Is this right? This is the ninth album of his that I own (I’m counting his split LP with Morgan Coy, Nightmare on Silly Street. I’m not going to look it up online, that’s cheating. I’m in charge here!). Cuckoo Bird Sings a Song has a melancholy, wistful feel to it. There’s some different instrumentation than the usual rock’n’roll arrangement—I hear bongos, non-piano-sounding keyboards, and the credits say an “arpeggiator” is used (that one I’ll look up online). The album also feels loose in the way that Coleman’s debut solo LP Steal My Mind does (Is that his first? I think so but I also refuse to verify this online. I’m still in charge here!) Side A opens with some captured studio chatter (a perhaps unintentionally Replacements-esque “Let me know if I sound too drunk here…”) before “Kick It Again” starts. That’s the hit single right there, people. But they’re all hits! Or at least “We Speak in Charades” should be (it has me thinking of Lou Christie, even though it really sounds nothing like “Lightnin’ Strikes”). It took me a few listens before I realized that the chorus of “Without Warning” changes each go around: “I don’t want to be alone (insert: tonight, the dark, the back yard) without warning.” What does Coleman sing about? Oh, the usual… drunkenly singing to one’s cat (and the cat knows you’re too drunk), Corey Feldman, pawning one’s body parts (maybe I shouldn’t take everything so literally). Who doesn’t relate to a shambling and brilliant line like “I ain’t crazy / just a little sad maybe”? Fools, that’s who. My work is done here. –Sal Lucci (Goliad,