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Jandek on Corwood (2003)

"The longest-running, weirdest, loneliest enigma in popular music is a guy from Texas who calls himself Jandek." Jandek on Corwood is the 89-minute documentary that explores this man, his world and his music.


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Credited cast:
Byron Coley
Calvin Johnson
Barry Hansen
John Foster
Richie Unterberger
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jake Austen
Nils Bernstein
Ben Edmonds
Gary 'Pig' Gold
Toni Holm
Amy Kelley
Brooks Martin
Phil Milstein
David Rauh
Angela Sawyer


"The longest-running, weirdest, loneliest enigma in popular music is a guy from Texas who calls himself Jandek." Jandek on Corwood is the 89-minute documentary that explores this man, his world and his music.

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Release Date:

February 2003 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

26 August 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

By now the myth that is Jandek could devour an entire metropolis a la the Blob. Every stone that's been turned has provided little insight into who truly lurks behind the pseudonym. Although those in my shoes would have you believe that Jandek is the master of keeping to himself, that's far from the truth. He's plastered his face over dozens of albums covers, and he's made Corwood Industries- the company that has single-handedly birthed Jandek albums to the world through sleight of hand and a P.O. Box- an easily accessible business through the pen and paper. Just write the man, and as long as you aren't hoping to pry into his personal life, he'll be more than happy to return your query with a cryptic, almost Confucius-like wisdom. He took a large step last year, gracing a European stage with an unannounced performance, and he has another one billed for this calendar year. And of course, he gave his blessing to the minds behind Jandek on Corwood, the documentary trying to discover just who is Jandek the musician.

What makes Jandek on Corwood work is how the subject is approached. This is not guerrilla storytelling. Director Chad Freidrichs doesn't go chasing the myth, nor does he seek out the origins and private life of Jandek. Instead, Freidrichs focuses on telling the story of Jandek and his music by letting Jandek's music be the focus of the story. Throughout the film dark shots of eerie landscapes, playgrounds, beaches, and small towns fill the gaps between interviews and lore. Jandek's brand of music is allowed to dictate the pace and the shape of the story, which lends itself to a wonderful tale of the power and effect the musician and his songs have on a variety of listeners.

The music may function as the centerpiece, but a documentary would be nothing without interviews and insights from the cornucopia of people involved, either directly or indirectly, in Jandek's musical life. The most compelling interviews come from those who have had the most contact with Jandek and his music. Phil Milstein, who is admittedly a huge Jandek fan, wrote the first published review of Ready for the House for Op Magazine. His insightful review not only turned a handful of adventurous publishers and music lovers into Jandek fans, but it is the singular cause behind Jandek's release of more content. John Trubee is quite possibly the diamond in the rough within Jandek on Corwood. Trubee, who was recruited to write for the then-fledgling Spin Magazine, is the only person to be interview Jandek over the telephone. Excerpts from the conversation are used to explain a myriad of subjects from Jandek's unorthodox tunings, the origin of his name, and his musical joys (Jandek digs Tom Petty. Who knew?). If the excerpts aren't enough, the DVD contains the entire phone conversation, which is worth the rental/purchase alone.

Jandek fans and haters can find something to enjoy watching Jandek on Corwood. The presentation is crisp, and the subject isn't dissected so much as inspected. No matter how many performances Jandek plans in the future; no matter how many albums he continues to push out; no matter how many people see, hear or touch him, he will always be a living example of man overcoming image to create unique sound in his own private world. It's a world we should all respect and admire, and one that we should be privileged not to inhabit beyond the occasional dalliance into Jandek's musical catalogue.

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