Lera Lynn: More than Just the Sad Bar Singer on “True Detective”

As I’ve been watching HBO’s “True Detective” Season 2, there have been so many questions: “Can female detectives really wear skinny jeans and cool shirts on the job?” (according to a real cop – turns out this is true, as long as it doesn’t restrict your motion), “Did Vince Vaughn known when he was filming ‘The Internship’ that he would once again get a chance at a serious acting job?’ (No, maybe?), and probably most important, “WHO IS that sad-eyed lady singing those heartbreakingly depressing songs in the bar that Frank and Ray (and sometimes Ani) frequent?”

If you Google “singer true detective bar”, the internet responds by letting you know the lady is American singer-songwriter Lera Lynn. But why stop there? Here are 10 cool things to know about her:

1. She was born in Texas, raised in Georgia and Louisiana, and now lives in Nashville.

According to Wikipedia, Lynn has had a life-long helping of good Southern living — giving her the perfect material (and musical influence) for coming up with ideas for those sad sad songs that evoke the darkest bits of the American experience.

Lera Lynn
Photo by Ixchel Lara

2. Her manager hooked her up with ‘True Detective’ musical supervisor T Bone Burnett, and the rest is kinda history.

Lynn’s manager, Sheri Sands, knew Burnett from working together on the Robert Plant + Alison Krauss album Raising Sand. Sands asked Burnett if he would be interested in using a song off of Lynn’s new EP, Lying in the Sun, for “True Detective” and after taking a listen, he asked for a meeting with Lynn in Nashville. Once he had Lynn there in person, Burnett asked if she would like to write some original songs together for the show. Lynn jumped at the chance.

She even got to co-write with Rosanne Cash on the haunting song “My Least Favorite Life” from the show:

3. “True Detective” showrunner Nic Pizzolatto gave her super-vauge concepts to write songs about, and hardly any time to practice them once written.

Out of fear of leaking any plot points or major twists about the show, Nic Pizzolatto gave very little information about the story arc to Lynn. He’d basically just give her a sense of the mood/tone he wanted — maybe a basic concept like “write a song about church ruins” that that was basically it. After the song was written, Pizzolatto would rush to film it — Lynn told Noisey, “[Nic] wanted very languid performances and it was difficult to do that because we’d just write the song and then immediately set up the mics and I’d record it.”

4. She doesn’t want to be tied to the Man. She self-releases all of her own music, thankyouverymuch.

For Lynn, artistic control is most important, and that’s why she self-produces and releases with the help of artist-friendly outfits like Slow Records. She told the Chicago Reader that’s she’s had offers from labels, “but the most important thing … is being able to make the music that I want to make, and to be able to perform it the way I want to perform it. That’s not always in line with the business side of things.”

5. She credits her mom with introducing music into her life in a significant way.

Lynn’s mom was a singer in a rock music cover band, and that’s how she first got introduced to music. Mom also would play all sorts of artists, from Vince Gill to Joni Mitchell to Michael Jackson around the house, giving Lynn wide exposure to all sorts of musical genres.
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“Ballers” Theme Song is My Jam of the Moment

Have you been watching the new Dwayne Johnson show on HBO, “Ballers”? You know, that show where Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg got in a HBO pitch room and said “Imagine a show that’s ‘Entourage’ meets ‘Jerry Maquire’ meets ‘Friday Night Lights’!” and the TV exec’s eye’s lit up with delight and he spontaneously threw a pile of money at them? Yup, that one.

It’s my new guilty pleasure — which is funny because normally my guilt pleasures involve an egregious shade of chick-flicky-ness. Perhaps it’s my inner ‘roided-up jock, but I do a little dance every time the theme song comes on, which had me wondering, who sings this delightful little ditty that references liking “chicks in twos”?

Scratch your head no more — because the song is “Right Above It” by Lil’ Wayne ft. Drake, the first single off of I Am Not a Human Being, which dropped in 2010. Why the “Ballers” team chose a 5 year old song to pop open their 2015 show, I have no idea. Perhaps it’s to evoke a simpler time in sports money management?

Whatever it is, it’s working for me!

Ryan Adams Live on Letterman in NYC – 12/5/11

Who loves Ryan Adams? I do! I do!

As you may have already figured out from my tweets, just as I was lucky a few months ago when Coldplay was in town, I was again blessed enough to sit in on Ry Ry’s intimate performance at the Ed Sullivan Theater for Live on Letterman.

According to Ryan, for this tour he is doing all solo sets (yup, no Cardinals) because… he is. But he still has the classic crazy Ryan Adams between song banter — this time hypothesizing what would happen if you came to a Live on Letterman taping and KISS was performing, the “real” pyrotechnic show that is usually on display during “Lucky Now”, and an in-depth rant on the failings of the fourth season of “Moonlighting.”

Vocally, Ry Ry has never sounded better. Clear, crisp, and in control, I thought his voice was beautiful during the whole performance. He did an understated version of “New York, New York” on the piano — after which the guy a row in front of me shouted, “We still love you too, Ryan!” Another song of note was a cover of Bob Mould’s “Black Sheets of Rain.”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Ryan perform (was at the last time the 2008 Cafe Select show????), so I was delighted when he played some older hits — especially “English Girls Approximately” — as soon as he hit the chorus of the song I was reminded how MUCH I love that song. (The playing of “Love Is Hell” will be occurring all day today.)

More classic Adams details included Ry dressed in a black tee with red design, jeans, brown workbooks — but most importantly, one impossibly expensive looking black leather jacket with an homage to Iron Maiden painted along the entire back. (Of course!!)

Can’t wait to see him tonight at the big Carnegie Hall show!

Setlist via the Ryan Adams Archive:

Oh My Sweet Carolina
Ashes & Fire
If I Am A Stranger
Dirty Rain
New York, New York (piano)
Do I Wait
Lucky Now
Jacksonville Skyline
Black Sheets of Rain (Bob Mould cover)
English Girls Approximately
16 Days

Continue reading “Ryan Adams Live on Letterman in NYC – 12/5/11”

Coldplay Live on Letterman in NYC – 9/20/11

Longtime readers of this site will already be accustomed to my undying, uncool devotion to the British “rock” band Coldplay.
But it is due to this broadcasting of affection that people end up being so generous whenever the band rolls into town.

Waiting to head into the Ed Sullivan Theater

Thanks to the unbelievable kindness of Product Shop NYC, last night I was lucky enough to attend Coldplay’s Live on Letterman webcast taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater right here in NYC.

Amazing lasers and lots of crazy colors filled the stage.

It was basically 50 minutes of pure joy for me. The band played a handful of new songs off their upcoming album Mylo Xyloto — “Major Minus,” “Hurts Like Heaven,” “Charlie Brown,” and my personal favorite, “Paradise” — as well as all the greatest hits (“Yellow,” “The Scientist,” “Viva la Vida,” “Fix You,” etc.).
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Things From Last Month: Foster the People, Cut Copy, Johnny Marnell, Kalli

Hey y’all. Sorry I have basically fallen off the face of the planet in terms of updates. August was a great month — saw lots of good music. Here are some of the shows I witnessed:

The biggest blowout I attended last month was on August 11th for Celebrate Brooklyn‘s last concert of the summer, featuring Aussie dance party gods, Cut Copy, and California wunderkids, Foster the People. So much crazy dancing, so much fun! (And a damn near Lindsay Lohan sighting!)

Lead singer Mark Foster told a story about how when he was a teenager he approached Rivers Cuomo at a party and tried to get him to listen to his demo. Fast foward to 2011, and now Weezer has been known to cover “Pumped Up Kicks” in concert. As an homage, FTP did a cover version of “Say It Ain’t So”:

Cut Copy wants you to feel the power!

Crowd during Cut Copy finale
Continue reading “Things From Last Month: Foster the People, Cut Copy, Johnny Marnell, Kalli”

Jack White and Stephen Colbert Love-fest @ The Highline – 6/24/11

Capping of a three-day guest run on the Colbert Report (see below), Jack White and Stephen Colbert teamed up once again on Friday to promote Stephen’s new single on Third Man Records, “Charlene II (I’m Over You)” with a special live appearance at the Lot at the Highline (30th Street and 10th Avenue).

Hitting the stage around 12:15pm — the set was extremely short, with Stephen and Jack singing the National Anthem together:

And then Stephen later hitting the stage with the Black Belles to do his soon to be number 1 hit single:

After they did their two songs, Stephen announced that he and Jack would be signing any albums folks bought from the Third Man Rolling Record Store “until as long as it takes — or until we decide to leave.” Hilarious. Was so lucky to be there. They definitely let the good times roll!


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Gossip Girl’s (Real) Musical Talent: Leighton Meester

So now that Little J is officially not coming back to the next season of Gossip Girl, resident wild child Taylor Momsen will have plenty of time to make horribly cliched music videos with her band, Pretty Reckless.

However, it seems as though another GG teen queen is also maintaining her musical edge — but with much better results. Leighton Meester, who plays queen bee of mean Blair Waldorf, has been slowly working on her musical career over the years — teaming up with Cobra Starship in 2009 for “Good Girls Go Bad” and showing off her singing chops in last year’s Country Strong.

Meester recently performed in LA at the Hotel Cafe with Mike Frieman of Check in the Dark, and I have to say, up until now I was pretty down on the whole Leighton Meester wants to do music thing, but I am totally impressed with her singing skills in these videos. Beautiful vocals. Love that she’s doing less of that dance queen/pop star thing she’d been focusing on thus far and going for a more folky singer/songwriter feel.

Flawless face, hair, and singing voice? Sometimes life is just not fair. Well played, Meester.:

Conan O’Brien and Jack White Perform “Twenty Flight Rock” on CONAN

If you didn’t catch it from last night, the video of White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather front man Jack White and ex-Tonight Show host/new basic cable network star Conan O’Brien performing on Coco’s new eponymous show on TBS is now up.

The two performed a cover of “Twenty Flight Rock,” which was featured on the LP of “Live at Third Man,” which is issued by Jack’s record label, Third Man Records.

Both were sporting facial hair, which Jack accessorizing his all black ensemble with a little newsboy cap, and Conan had a personalized guitar strap on for their duet: