woke up

I Woke Up

I Woke Up is the twenty-sixth album by Jandek and his only release of 1997. Released as Corwood Industries #0764, it introduced (for the first and last time) a new male vocalist who sings most of the tracks.


I Woke Up is something of an anomaly in the "second acoustic phase" of Jandek. Not a return to a "band" by any means, it is still the one album (that is known) recorded between Lost Cause (1992) and Glasgow Sunday (2005) to feature a musician other than the principal artist. Usually referred to as "Mike" (due to a faint "Mike" being heard coming from the Corwood Rep :17 into the last track), he provides vocals for the vast majority of tracks on the album, and most likely plays the "jazz drums" (with brushes) on "Long Long." What else, if anything, he does is difficult to say.

Taken as a whole, this album seems to be an experimental diversion for Jandek. It's hard to say why he wants "Mike" to sing these songs, but it's apparent rather quickly on the first track that this isn't our usual vocalist. "Mike" has two styles - one a speak/sing recitation that sounds like Lou Reed's more nasal cousin and the other a deeper, fairly unemotional singing style. We hear the speaking voice first, as "Mike" drops lines like "Second sight/sixth image/God fear/third light/marriage site" over the dissonant, picked strings of the main artist. That latter point is a good one, here - the guitar on the album sounds a little closer to the old style than it has in a few albums. But there's a lot of varied instrumentation here, with LOTS of harmonica (probably the most per capita on any Corwood album), the return of the accordion (on the accordion and harmonica instrumental "Get Back Inside" and "Sleepless Night"), and a percussion instrument - most likely a bucket of some sort - that is the sole accompaniment on the short "Pending Doom."

The most curious diversion is the jazzy, brushed drums on "Long Long." Even more curious is the vocal delivery, by the Corwood Representative, which is a poetry recitation - except for the echo thrown all over the voice and harmonica, this could be an outtake from a 50's era beatnik open mic event. The echo is all over the only other two vocals the Corwood Rep takes, on the fairly standard "Equaled in Life" and the toss-off "Take it Easy" (where he chants "take it, take easy" over and over).

At the end of the album "Mike" sings "McCain is my name...God is now alive in the world today," and there's a lot of religion on this album, as is typical from Corwood releases of the time. But nothing else here is typical of a Jandek album, and as the artist never returned to "Mike" or many of these types of songs again, it remains something of a roadside attraction on the long highway of Jandek's music.

Track listing

  1. First Awake Moment – 2:26
  2. Alone on that Mountain – 3:53
  3. I Can Not – 4:03
  4. Get Back Inside – 3:00
  5. Long Long – 3:47
  6. Joab – 2:40
  7. Equaled in Life – 2:16
  8. Star of Zenith – 3:55
  9. Take it Easy – 2:09
  10. Just Die – 3:53
  11. Pending Doom – 1:15
  12. Sleepless Night – 2:22
  13. Today – 1:26


More existential twang, strum, holler, and moan. Of course, a shylock like Will Oldham gets laid a lot when he pulls this trick, so it's patently unfair that Texas recluse Jandek doesn't get those same dumpy groupies. -- Fred Mills Magnet #31

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