The tale of one band, writ large, or at least writ.
By Fred Mills
Raise your hand if you were a fan of Green On Red — that Tucson-to-Cali combo of cosmic cowboys who, along with fellow denizens of the Paisley Underground (think: Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders, Salvation Army, etc.), helped pave the way for the contemporary Americana scene while also providing a much-needed guitar-powered boot in the ass of Eighties musical complacency. In the 20-odd years since the group’s ultimate demise (although there was a terrific reunion a decade or so ago), frontman Dan Stuart has eased in and out of music, most recently surfacing in 2012 with a CD he cut in Mexico, The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings.
Now he’s published a book bearing the same name: The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings is subtitled “a false memoir” and, while we’ll allow that little big of authorial sleight-of-hand, for folks like yours truly who dearly loved and followed Green On Red, there’s barely a word within that rings false. Some of the names have been changed, either in deference to sundry statutes of limitations that may not have expired just yet or simply to take poetic license. But it’s still a drugs/sex/rock ‘n’ roll-littered tale of a man, his guitar, the occasional pit bull, and his band, and half the fun for yours truly, since I spent a good amount of time in Arizona myself, is catching some of the names and references with true insider’s glee. The pages are also littered with priceless photos of Green On Red back in the day (see below) including a number of pre-GoR images that are illuminating, to say the least.
No less a professorial source than Willy Vlautin (a novelist and musician himself) calls the book “funny and heartbreaking, raw and a bit off key, and always charging forward,” while Lydia Lunch simply calls it “American literature as it was meant to be. Brutal.” Lydia knows a thing or two about “brutal.”