1979-09-01 Billboard

Jeffreys LP Reflects His Own Integrity

By Ed Harrison

Garland Jeffreys readily admits that his new A&M album “American Boy and Girl” isn’t a commercial piece of product, but then again, the singer/writer was never one to give in to pop trends.

“American Boy and Girl,” Jeffreys’ third album for A&M, is perhaps his most conceptual, dealing with the plight of “throwaway” minority youths whose frustrations turn them to murder, drugs, prostitution and suicide.

“It might not be what everyone wants to hear, but I’ve made a commitment to express what’s important to me,” states Jeffreys.  “I’m not a pop songwriter.  Sometimes I see things out there that are not okay and I must express them.  It’s an exorcism as well.”

Jeffreys’ songs have always had a tone of anger and seriousness and as a result he has taken criticism for it.  “I’ve been criticized for writing about themes not prevalent anymore.

“If I start to get funny, critics will say they miss songs like ‘Spanish Town’ (from his Ghostwriter LP) or ‘Matador’ (from the new album).

“Writers listen to an artist and judge him on finite terms.  If an artist sounds angry on one or two records, it doesn’t mean he’ll be angry in 1982.”

Despite suggestions to aim more for the pop mainstream, Jeffreys says he is “creatively unsteerable.”

“At times I’ve tried to go along with someone else’s game plan, but I just couldn’t do it.  A&M has been good about letting me do what I want.  Obviously it would like to see me sell more records, but I won’t get crazy trying to do it.  Today’s esoteria is tomorrow’s commerciality,” says Jeffreys.

In addition to a new manager, Peter Golden (manager of Jackson Browne as well), Jeffreys also is working with his first band as opposed to studio players.

“American Boy and Girl” is also the first time Jeffreys’ product has been released simultaneously in England and Europe where he has large cult followings.  On a recent vacation there, he got “roped into” press and radio interviews and as a result will make his first tour there in December.

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