RIP Jeremiah Green

Jeremiah Green died on New Year’s Eve, and he was my favorite drummer of all time. The man could build a house with just a 3/4 time signature. I first heard “Dramamine” in 2004, and then the song crawled into my head and dressed itself in personal overtones that it wore for many years. It’s one of the very best songs I’ve ever discovered, an uneven mantra for uneven times, a hypnagogic elegy for night owls. Not for nothing, it’s a heartbreaking song, if you let it be, which means it’s as close to a “perfect” song as you’ll find, like so many others we each hold dear.

Isaac Brock’s spaghetti Western harmonics get the accolades (and, yes, of course, they’re unbelievably cool), but it’s Jeremiah’s percussion that knits the song together. If you listen to his voice on the drums in that song, you can actually feel the landscape drift past your eyes just outside the window, low-slung American cities fading into the middle distance; you end up somewhere else by song’s end, and, even today, to borrow a phrase, I believe that a car with the gas needle on empty will get you a few more miles down the road if you let Jeremiah’s hi-hat guide the way.

His style was kaleidoscopic. He could be bombastic and rowdy (“Truckers Atlas,” “Exit Does Not Exist,” “Tundra/Desert”) and then he could be coffee-shop chill, all eight-armed bongo jazz (“It’s All Nice on Ice, Alright,” “Sunspots in the House of the Late Scapegoat,” “Trailer Trash”). Jeremiah’s performance, his imprint, is the key to those songs. Style, so says Susan Sontag, is a means of insisting on something. Style is everything. When you find it in an artist, you treasure that connection. Let the music teach you something about yourself.

Even when “Dramamine” comes to an end, structurally, Jeremiah’s drumming somehow continues. Just incredible stuff. The moment ends, as we all know (it has to), but at the same time the moment never ends.

Bow your heads. One of the good guys has passed.

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