“Danny” was Dan Stuart of Green on Red, and “Dusty” was Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate, and in early 1985, they convened in a studio in Los Angeles with a bunch of their friends and spend 36 beer-and-whiskey fueled hours recording one of my all-time favorite one-off records, The Lost Weekend.
Populating the album with an endless series of boozers, dreamers and losers, Danny & Dusty — along with ringers Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy & Tom Stevens from The Long Ryders, Dennis Duck of The Dream Syndicate & MVP Chris Cavacas of Green on Red — cobbled together an album that sounded like The Replacements decided to follow Let it Be with a boozy, fucked-up version of Let it Bleed.
The result was an album that I loved more than any individual Long Ryders, Green on Red or Dream Syndicate — with the exception of The Days of Wine & Roses of course — albums, not to mention more than any Rolling Stones album after Some Girls.
The Lost Weekend is kicked off by “The Word is Out,” which breaks the mythology slightly by being recorded a year earlier, but basically sets the template both musically and lyrically.
Musically, it kicks off as a classic country song, performed at at a speed that their cowpunk contemporaries would have nodded their approval at as Danny & Dusty set the stage trading off verses:
I was feeling very sad and so low
I went looking for some liquid sympathy
Went and found some bums down by the depot
And the bastards went and called the cops on me
I figure somewhere in this world it’s happy hour
So I went down to get properly disposed
Went ‘n’ ordered me a whisky sour
And the man said “sorry son we’re closed”
And with Stephen McCarthy kicking in a lap steel hooks and Chris Cacavas making like the reincarnation of Nicky Hopkins, they barrel into the chorus:
Seems that lately I’ve been paying
For things I used to get for free
Don’t you know I hear the music’s playing
Whoa! I know the word is out on me
With the whole song going into stop-time as they gleefully sing “Well!, I know the word is out on me,” you get the impression that they’re not so much complaining that the whole world is onto them, but celebrating that fact.
One of the themes that I return to over and over again in “Certain Songs” is that I love music that sounds like it was fun to make. Where you can practically see the people in the studio grinning at each other as they either find the pocket or — even better — fall out of the pocket but get caught just before they hit the floor.
No full album I’ve ever owned epitomizes that spirit than The Lost Weekend.
Not even the long-awaited surprise sequel, 2007’s Cast Iron Soul, came close. By that time, of course, we were all older and wiser, understanding that while a lost weekend is good fun, lost decades does nobody any good.
“The Word is Out” performed live in 1986