Outstanding Re-branding, Part 1, or The Artsy-Fart Formerly Known as Milksop

I guess it had to happen eventually. When your name is Jonathan, people tend to take liberties. Growing up, I always chafed when people shortened it for sake of convenience.

When I was in my 20s, I played bass in a band where the singer christened us with personas. I got coined “Jon James, from Sussex, U.K.” I don’t know what he saw in me that led him to the English associations. Perhaps the ruddy complexion and penchant for bitter ale.

For whatever reason – and despite all prior objections – I let it stick. It seemed to have ring and concision. Its origin appealed to my fondness for all things Brit Invasion. I put out some solo records under the name. Friends and cohorts started calling me Jon James. They did so lovingly, and I’d never fault them for that. Thank you, loving friends and cohorts.

I’ve learned in the past few years a lot of us spend a whole lot of our lives erecting facades based upon the ways we imagine ourselves, or maybe the ways we think we’re supposed to be. When you’re a kid who grew up in a household where there was a lot of disdain surrounding your rock-n-roll proclivities, I guess part of the embedded shame and confusion surrounding all that is to assume a stage name you don’t even really like. So much for self affirmation.

Too, divorce can really do a number on a fellow. I don’t go around imagining this makes me special. Half of us have gone through it. Some of us, more than once. Still, it’s a lot of heartache and a mind fuck. If it doesn’t bring you to fundamentally question who you are, well, you’re a better person than me. Or maybe just pathological.

So when I proclaim Jon James Is Dead, it’s both ruse and twofold truth. Foremost, it was never more than certain artifice. Contrariwise, there’s this flesh and blood Jonathan fellow. No matter the ways he’s a shadow of his former self. We’re all dying to be reborn.

A couple years back, said dead guy made a rather expansive record documenting said disease and decline. And he’s been sitting on it for a couple years now, wary of its brazen, honest neuroticism, and the daunting notion of putting such a thing in front of whatever imagined, anonymous audience – much less the aforementioned loving friends and cohorts.

That said – it’s finally coming. And, next up, I’m a-gonna kiss and tell a bit.

Leave a comment