Monday, April 18, 2016


Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly?  (September 21, 1992)

Can You Fly? was the third of five albums Freedy Johnston released for Bar/None, released on September 21, 1992 - a year after Nirvana turned the alternative world upside-down with NevermindRobert Christgau, in his syndicated Consumer Guide, raved, "Defying the taste for tortured chaos that the triumph of Nirvana signifies, the Kansas-born Hoboken fixture is a case study in bringing confusion under control--in loving your life as beautiful mess. Contained, mature, realistic in philosophy and aesthetic, its every song a model of open-ended lyrical detail and lithe, sly melodicism, it's a flat-out monument of singer-songwriterdom--up there with Randy Newman's 12 Songs, Joni Mitchell's For the Roses, and other such pre-punk artifacts." 

Freedy  was born in the small town of Kinsley, Kansas, famous for being the exact mid-point between the east and west coasts of the USA. He bought a mail order guitar as a teenager after hearing Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True. Later while briefly attending college in Lawrence, Kansas, he fell in with the likes of the Embarrassment and the Mortal Micronotz. His own writing mixed literate post-punk with outlaw country and ’70s AM radio fare. His first album, The Trouble Tree on Bar/None, was titled after the nickname his Mom gave a local Kinsley watering hole.

His second album, Can You Fly, was made while living in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the music community rallied ’round the singer. At the time the local scene based around the club Maxwell’s was particularly vibrant and Can You Fly featured a number of club regulars including Kevin Salem, Dave Schramm, Graham Maby, Jared Michael Nickerson, Chris Stamey and Syd Straw. With the release of the album Freedy was touted as one of America’s finest new songwriters by Rolling Stone, Spin and many others. In the Village Voice Bob Christgau hailed it as “a perfect album.” Can You Fly was cited in the book 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die by music critic Tom Moon.

Freedy's video for "The Lucky One" from Can You Fly?

Signed to Elektra in 1994, Johnston had a radio hit with ”Bad Reputation,” and the Butch Vig-produced This Perfect World expanded his fan base. He would release four albums on Elektra, including Blue Days Black Nights, produced by T Bone Burnett.  

Freedy returned to Bar/None in 2010 for Rain On The City.   

Freedy Johnston:  

Freedy Johnston, Can You Fly?:

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