Poetic Memory: Peter Case (List)

MP3: Peter Case – Round Trip Stranger Blues

Peter Case follows in a grand tradition of rock music, existing in the vein of pioneers like Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, The Clash, and other musical heroes who live to break ground and make new things.

The former front man of ’70s power pop favorites The Nerves, Case has been working as a solo artist since the mid 1980s. And this May, he released The Case Files, a long overdue collection of demos, outtakes, and other rarities from his 25-year solo career. Compiled by Peter himself, this compilation combines full-band electric tracks with intense acoustic performances, bluesy numbers, and biting protest songs, and features collaborations with many of Peter’s friends, including Stan Ridgway, Eddie Muñoz, and T-Bone Burnett, among others.

Case is now on tour to support The Case Files, and he plays The Oasis House in San Diego on June 24.

A perhaps little-known fact about Case is that he’s a musicologist; in the late 1990s, he curated the musical program for Los Angeles’ esteemed Getty Museum, and in 2001, he produced Avalon Blues, a Grammy-nominated tribute album to Mississippi John Hurt. Because of these credentials, we at Owl and Bear are especially pleased that he provided us with a Poetic Memory list of influences.

Poetic Memory: Peter Case

1) Rimbaud’s Illuminations, translated by John Ashbury: He’s the insane teenage genius ragamuffin surrealist outlaw of all time, and the original punk, etc. Patti Smith talks about him a lot, so did Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison. This just came out, and I’m reading it when I can on this road trip. Like the best songwriters, Ashbury cares about getting every word right. For me this about as cool as getting a great new Dylan album used to be. I’ve read a lot of translations of Rimbaud, and this seems like the best. “Alchemy of the word.”


2) The films of Jean-Pierre Melville, in The Criterion Collection, especially Le Samourai: Ghost Dog by Jim Jarmusch is one of my favorite films, and this is the inspiration for it. The actor Alain Dolon is a star in Europe, and this one is a good reason, as he portrays a hit man alone in the underworld of Paris organized crime. I’m in the process of making a film, and Melville’s work is a guiding light.

3) Dead Rock West: The San Diego band just released an album called Bright Morning Stars, and I produced it. They’ve been getting a lot of attention for it, check it out.

4) Gasoline Silver: This is my favorite new band, fronted by Ron Franklin, from Memphis. If you go to Gasolinesilver.com, there are three clips of the band playing live in a recording studio, great performances. After seeing Ron play, I asked him to play guitar on Wig! my latest album for Yep Roc. He’s also playing all over the Dead Rock West record. Franklin’s blues-garage-folk-electro, and really far out, hard to classify. This clip (above) is more the on the rock and roll side. He’s a great talent that most people haven’t picked up on yet, but they will!

5) Summertime in California: What a beautiful time and place. “The West is the best.” I’ve been traveling the last few days up and down the state, going to my gigs by the sea, along the coast, through the mountains, across the desert, into the the lush California valleys; I love it here, and I’m so glad I moved from Buffalo a thousand years ago. I dig it!

6) Fog Horns: See above.

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