R.I.P. Jay Reatard, Dead at 29

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Update: This morning, Pitchfork, NME and several other outlets are reporting that Reatard's death is now being treated as a homicide, citing a seemingly erroneous report filed by MyFox Memphis stating as much. The original piece has since been inexplicably removed from the site, raising reasonable doubts regarding the validity of any such claims.

Police routinely investigate deaths to rule out foul play, which we're guessing may have generated some confusion on the part of MyFox Memphis, who curiously didn't attribute any sources in its piece. Whereas in a story it posted on Wednesday, The Commerical Appeal, citing an offical police spokeswoman, indicated foul play was not necessarily suspected.

Waiting For Something - a short documentary about Jay Reatard

[orig post: 01.13.10] If you weren't already completely bummed out, what with word of the massive devastation in Haiti and fears that the death toll may reach one-hundred thousand, here's some breaking music news out of Memphis that's sure to add to your heartache. Widespread reports confirm that Jay Reatard (aka Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr.) has indeed left the building. He was 29.

We'll have some more thoughts on his untimely passing tomorrow, but in the meantime, we just re watched Waiting For Something, the twenty-minute documentary focusing on him and his music, and noticed something noteworthy that we thought was worth mentioning.

Aside from the fact that the short clip now serves as a compelling reminder of just what a sad loss this is -- Reatard epitomized a dying breed, the kind of artists who fully embrace the notion of making music for love, not money -- there's an eerie scene towards the end in which Reatard says some things that, in retrospect, almost seem to foreshadow his own death.

Around the eighteen-minute mark, the camera pans out with a shot of Reatard finishing a late night meal at CK's Coffee Shop, a Memphis diner that's always open, as the sign boasts. Just then, the final strains of "It Aint' Gonna Save Me," specifically the lines, "All is lost there is no hope for me," fades into the scene in question, which finds Reatard sitting on his porch, boiling his overall take on music and life down to its essence.

"You can either say that somebody has a window of time to where they're going to have the opportunity to do what they do, creatively, um, and do it well," he points out, "or some people think you have, like, a certain amount of songs before you dry up or whatever.

"I tend to think it's, like, amount of time," he intones matter of factly. "So I'm, like, racing against time constantly. A lot of it's just a fear of death or whatever. I mean, I know I'm not going to be able to make records when I'm dead. And I'm not dead right now, so I want to make records. It's that simple, really."

Whoa, right? Kind of heavy. Wonder if he knew?

Perhaps? Maybe he sensed the clock was ticking. Or it could all just be coincidental. After all, this past Saturday, Reatard did post a few tweets about being sick. Either way, dude was kind of a hard charger, from what we understand.

Earlier today, Wade Tantangelo, a former freelancer for this fishwrap and now my counterpart at OC Weekly, our sister paper, reflected on an interview he did with the musician this past summer, in which Reatard spoke candidly of how Watch Me Fall was a record of self-destruction.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.