Tag: jenny says

Rachel Cholst Loves Cowboy Mouth “Jenny Says”

Rachel Cholst Loves Cowboy Mouth “Jenny Says”

The shows themselves have this glue of positivity, connecting all the songs, and this idea that you can do anything, and you can get through these difficult times.

Some songs are so cathartic and just speak right into your heart at the right time in your life, as Rachel Cholst feels about Cowboy Mouth’s classic song “Jenny Says.” Listen and learn some obscure tidbits of info about the energetic, New Orleans-based band.

I know they have a reputation that it’s a frat boy band, but there are a lot of people out there for whom they’ve done so much. And I hope that also is a part of their legacy.

Cholst, a well-known freelance writer and creator of queer country music zine Rainbow Rodeo and the Adobe & Teardrops blog discusses the effect the Cowboy Mouth has had on her life, music, and social justice-focused activities with host Sloane Spencer.

90s college rock has a very specific sensibility where it’s happy and sad at the same time. And when you’re 12 going on 13 — yeah, that hits.

Don’t forget to give One Hit History a five star rating! 


Music Mentions:

Enjoy this playlist featuring some of the artists we talked about in this episode.

Enjoy the on-going One Hit History playlist, featuring the songs featured on the episodes.

AI Transcript

Sloane Spencer  0:00  Hey y’all Sloane Spencer here you found us it is one hit history. We’re real easy to find online one hit history.com or support us at patreon.com/oneHithistory. I’m talking with somebody today who is a music person that if you don’t already know you should, behind some incredibly important and fascinating outlets, Adobe and Teardrops and Rainbow Rodeo the zine you definitely need to know. Rachel Cholst. Hello.

Rachel Cholst  0:26  Hi. Thank you so much for having me and for that really generous introduction.

Sloane Spencer  0:32  Well, absolutely. So real quick before we jump into the big question and the fun part of this, creatively, what have you been working on lately?

Rachel Cholst  0:40  That is a rueful laugh. Because I’ve mostly been writing essays since I’m working towards my MSW. And after about five years of doing freelance journalism on tight deadlines, while working a full time job writing like a five page paper double spaced is like really nothing to me. No, but time and energy.

Sloane Spencer  0:59  Definitely, definitely. So give people the quick rundown on what Adobe and Teardrops is.

Rachel Cholst  1:04  Sure. So I began Adobe and Teardrops in part inspired by the band we’re going to be talking about cowboy mouth around is a lyric from one of their songs Man on the Run. Yeah, that was always meant to be a space to focus on artists who were flying below the mainstream sonically, of course, I think it’s sort of getting more of a resurgence. But in the early 2010s, there was a lot of crossover between punk and country that I’ve found really excited. But then also artists who are generally marginalized by the music industry. So women, LGBTQ people, BiPOC people then to really shine a light on those artists within the Americana world.

Sloane Spencer  1:45  Definitely. And so their extensive online assets that you can investigate regarding Adobe and Teardrops, and that’s interesting that you say this, because punk is how I found country as well, I did not grow up with country and have zero background in it other than that, that I’ve discovered through that kind of punk country world. So I did not realize we had that in common. And then rainbow radio is a great, and you’ve got one gorgeous issue.

Rachel Cholst  2:07  Thank you. We are working on issue number two, but the explanation is going to be a lot simpler. It’s a zine by and for and about queer country music.

Sloane Spencer  2:14  And you are in the midst of a wonderful community of that where you are as well.

Rachel Cholst  2:18  Yes, yeah, I’ve been writing for a number of publications that all promote diversity within Americana, and country music such as no depression and the boot. And I’ve written for country queer in the past, but I’m no longer writing with them.

Sloane Spencer  2:33  So really wonderful content out there. And Rachel is easy to find online. And you definitely should check out her amazing both interviews and written content that is available as well. So this is probably I have two favorite questions to talk with folks about music people in particular, like hanging out backstage or when you have that weird like awkward like the sets delay 15 minutes, what are we going to talk about, because then I have to emcee this event. And my two favorite questions are two new podcasts. And this one is what’s your favorite one hit wonder.

Rachel Cholst  3:04  I can probably with many like true one hit wonders like off the top my head just nostalgia for 90s rocks, because that’s one I was like a younger person, my tweens and teens, but for today I chose Jenny says by cowboy now, what is not even my favorite song by them, but I think it’s the song that they’re the best known for. And one could argue they were a one hit wonder, and especially the SE with that song. So absolutely.

Sloane Spencer  3:29  So here’s the interesting thing. I know this song as a dash rip rock song. Ah, so I I’m quite a bit older, and I came up as a huge fan of Dash rip rock. We used to go see them a lot. Although they are from Louisiana. I’m from Atlanta, and they had a big hub in Atlanta. In fact, there was this great 688 club where you go see all the great shows. And then 688 Records put out some compilation albums, one of which had a couple of songs from a band called arms akimbo a couple of songs from a little band called drivin n cryin and a couple of songs from dash rip rock on it. And so dash were like we would they came through town monthly and we wouldn’t go every time.

Rachel Cholst  4:09  So the connection between dash rip rock and cowboy mouth is that Fred LeBlanc was from New Orleans was the drummer for a data proc briefly, briefly. And I got the contributed, Jenny says. And then he left to start his own band where he could be the frontman and the drummer. That was Yeah, boy, though.

Sloane Spencer  4:27  I remember all of this happening as they came through town and they suddenly had this new drummer, they did play that song it was almost identical to the version of it that we all know now, a little more of a dash take on it, but he was drumming and it was him on the vocal and then it came out on their album ace of spades. And then very quickly, this is like approximately 1989 I’m gonna guess very quickly. Cowboy mouth was a thing and was coming through town and they were much more what you see when you think of like from blah, blah stage persona. Now

Rachel Cholst  4:59  Yeah, like It’s also like a huge country influence the act of John Thomas Griffith, who is still playing guitar and one of the founding members like he hung out with all the country people. He was telling me one time, he was like, Oh, I live in a house with him. And this person, this person, I was like, holy shit. And then Paul Sanchez was also part of the founding trio. And I think the timeline was he had been up in New York, where I’m from trying to get into the folk and anti folk scene, and then came back down to New Orleans, and he had already been John Thomas. So they all ended up doing cowboy math together. And I don’t think any of them really expected it was going to last I think there’d been some long standing personality clashes conflict, basically propelled the band for about 15 years before I left,

Sloane Spencer  5:47  they were kind of known for that being part of what was going on with the band.

Rachel Cholst  5:50  Yes, I hadn’t, you know, when I was a kid, so I was blissfully unaware, even though I got very involved in all the various cowboy mouth message boards

Sloane Spencer  5:59  that there were, oh, so this is fascinating to me. So the version of Jenny says from Cowboy mouth, when you think of it in music, cultural history right now is the version they released in 96. That actually did chart in 97. So technically, it is their one hit. Although my definition of one hit wonder is, what is that one song This band is known for? And this is very much it, I think, to this day, they still close out all their shows with it.

Rachel Cholst  6:23  Oh, yeah, totally. So it’s hard every time to

Sloane Spencer  6:27  just type in cowboy mouth. Jenny says live and just watch some videos, you’re gonna be like, I’m gonna watch this 25 times in a row.

Rachel Cholst  6:33  Yeah, if you’ve never heard them before, you probably want to watch them first, as we can see, because Fred already recorded the song with Dash Rip Rock, and then he recorded it with cowboy mouth, but they recorded that song like twice, so he often will go back to older material, and we record it, I think that was a motif with the band. And part of it was, I think, artistic reasons, but also like financial considerations as well, they jumped around to different record labels.

Sloane Spencer  6:59  Various labels work in very different ways. And that has drastically drastically changed over the last several decades. And many bands that you probably know in love from, say the 80s, and 90s, are getting nothing off of the recordings that they made at that time. And that’s why a lot of bands go back and re record among other things. They deserve to be compensated for their art,

Rachel Cholst  7:16  right, like Taylor Swift, you’re recording all of her album. I mean, she could do that, because she can I know, count by mouth did eventually buy their masters from MCA back. Yeah, I mean, it was really tough for them for a while. I interviewed Fred and JtG last spring, you know, when we’re all in lockdown. Right? So cool to have, you know, 90 minute conversations with both of them. And then separately, it was fascinating. They were both saying actually what they saw.

Sloane Spencer  7:46  Let’s do let’s dive deep into this. So my cultural knowledge of Jenny says is pretty limited to the early part of it. And honestly, although I saw cowboy mouth maybe six years ago, I’m not super aware of them and their songwriting within the community of kind of the punk country world. How did you as a New Yorker end up a fan of cowboy mouth from north?

Rachel Cholst  8:11  Yes. So I think the short version of the story was I just sort of fallen into classic rock on my own. I mean, other than the Beatles and The Beach Boys, it wasn’t really something my parents listened to. I don’t think they were like into that music when it was popular. My mom loves classical music, and my dad has so many Kenny G albums and but I got into classic rock and especially like the sort of Heartland rock and Southern rock of like John Mellencamp, particularly for somebody who’s not Bruce Springsteen.

Sloane Spencer  8:40  Okay, this is interesting. So what Melanie was speaking to you, I have to know this jack and Diane, that was like, okay, so not like anything done with the night or something like that? No.

Rachel Cholst  8:49  And then when I found out he had done all those other sounds like oh, yeah, like, Okay, so anyway, I went to this summer camp in New Hampshire that has a different name now, but it used to be called interlocking and then after, so there’s the interlocking in, whereas Minnesota that yeah, no, this was not it. So they’ve changed the name now and the original families hold it. But the point is that one of my counselors who I’m still Facebook friends with, I don’t know she was in her like, mid 20s or something. And she was in between apartments. So she packed up her and brought it to camp. Awesome. Just had it and so when we were getting up in the morning, and like sweeping like the little cabin and making her beds and stuff, she would play music, and one of the album’s she put on was word of mouth by cowboy mouth. And like that was it was over. She I mean, she also played stuff like train before they were super popular. Better than ever, like guessing from the music. She had like Toad, the wet sprocket and stuff she was into, like college run from the south. We listened to all of that, but there was something about cowboy mouth that really spoke to me and I think it was the gesture towards country music.

Sloane Spencer  9:54  So this is fascinating on a lot of different levels because I’ve always been like a music fan and my parents are big music fans. So I grew up with a bevy of both classic rock and r&b, specifically in our household and old school. So, so that was our background. But summer camp was a huge influence on me musically, as well. I went to an academic camp on a college campus. And I discovered college radio when I was like 10. And became absolutely obsessed. And so it’s interesting how it’s kind of like that right time of life that suddenly like, this random man speaks to you deeply, you know?

Rachel Cholst  10:34  Yeah. And then like, 90 of college Rock has like a very specific sensibility where it’s like happy and sad at the same time. And when you’re 12 going on 13 Like, yeah, that hits.

Sloane Spencer  10:49  So I’m absolutely fascinated by the fact that cowboy mouse is the one that ultimately spoke to you. And really, from what I know about you, and your work, musically, has a foundational band, would that be appropriate to categorize? Yeah, totally. This has stuck with you, all of this time. How has Jenny says and or cowboy mouth kind of evolved for you in the influence in things that are still of interest to you about it.

Rachel Cholst  11:16  One thing that’s really important to understand about cowboy mouth is that the music isn’t the only part of experiencing the band. But Fred, as the front, man, we like the whole stage patter, almost like there’s this one press clipping that they keep using about how like it is sort of rock and roll gospel, like the songs are sad, because they are rock and country songs. There’s a lot of breakups and heartbreak between like three of them. Their process was that they didn’t really write songs together as a band so much again, because I think of the personality conflict, John and Paul would write a lot of stuff together. And then Paul would also bring in stuff he, then then David write some songs on their own. And then Fred would write songs by himself, and then did bring them together and like record, the ones they all really liked. And then they all have like their own separate thriving solo careers as well. So that’s, that’s where they were the rest of it. It’s democratic. And it makes sense, right, like, do stuff, some stuff by yourself. And I didn’t know because we couldn’t stand each other. But the shows themselves have like this glue of positivity, like connecting all the songs, and this idea that like, you can do anything, and you can get through these difficult times. And now look, we’re all here at this rock show. And we’re gonna live for the moment like right now, and celebrate life. And all the hard parts of that. And all the joyous parts of this read has like this knack of finding people who are shy and timid in the audience, especially kids. And by bringing them up on the edge and making them feel amazing. And I was never one of those kids, but because I think you could tell that my sister and I were too shy, but you know what I mean? Like, being at those shows just felt so good, and so nice. And again, once you’re like a preteen and a teenager, and you’re like thinking that maybe you’re gay, and you’re not like the other kids, and everything’s hard, like, that was like a really important thread to hold on to. It definitely shaped me as a person. And then hopefully, how I approach music and my other like, social justice related activities, this idea that like things are hard, and things are sad. And that’s part of life, but so are like the uplifting parts. And they can both can be true at the same time. And you always have to instill that sense of hope and celebration and everything.

Sloane Spencer  13:31  One of the things that I frankly was always confused about with the band, there shows even now, well, COVID is weird work. Their shows are really fun and uplifting. And of course, their lineup is morphed over the years. But you know, even back in the day when I would go see them on a regular basis. They were really known for their interpersonal conflict and large clashing egos, offstage and I was always really surprised when I saw them play because they were, I had fun every single show. And I’ll contrast that with like the Robinson brothers who I knew back when they had a band called Mr. Crows garden even back then you were waiting for the brotherly fistfight every night. So those shows weren’t always fun. I think cowboy mouth really has found some way to use the creative tension in a way that brings a positive experience for the audience. And there aren’t a lot of groups with genuine true longtime conflict like that. Who can who can do that?

Rachel Cholst  14:25  What was interesting about talking with Fred and John Thomas, are you gonna buy grabber JtG? separately? And I was like, joking about the lack of press training, but like, yeah, they talked about that conflict. very candidly, I think there’s a lot of emotions around it. I have not spoken with Paul about it. Specifically, if you follow him on social media, he makes his feelings very known. He and I have like a weird personal connection where it turned out that my fourth grade teacher who was the one who inspired me to become a teacher, he worked on a movie with Paul And they had stayed friends. And how could I have known that right? I got in the band when he was my teacher. But then I think I mentioned to him because I do this from the sound Hey, did you know this band cowboy mouth? And he’s like, holy? He didn’t say that. Because the teacher was like, Of course I do. I knew Paul. And I was able to, like, pass a couple messages back and forth between them. A small world. Yeah, it’s weird like that. Right. And then the other weird thing is that Paul lived when he was in New York City lived like in the neighborhood I live in now, which again, Manhattan is only 24 miles long. But you know, for musicians who weren’t living in Inwood, and Washington Heights. So no, I have not formally interviewed Paul, I know he was going through a lot of personal difficulties in the spring of 2020. So I didn’t really want to bother him. But back to the two interviews that are recorded, and that I’m not telling you to go find them on my podcast. Where can people find those conversations? I think the easiest way would be to go to Adobe into your drops. And then search John Thomas Griffith and search Fred LeBlanc, because I tack them on to like the podcasts. So there’s like 40 minutes of music, and then these interviews that are also pretty long, but you can skip around.

Sloane Spencer  16:09  If you want to be able to hear this conversations, you should definitely check our show notes will have those links available for you right there at one hit history calm.

Rachel Cholst  16:15  Yeah. And so I think like the biggest takeaway I got from the two interviews was that Paul does see himself as a songwriter. And I think JtG does, too. And Paul was always really focused on the band being like an outlet for creative expression, and pretzel the band, as the show this experience that you go to, I think the conflict was around what is the mission of this band and what is supposed to happen on stage. Ah, so you’ll see in like the later albums, the album’s like, oh, and Lulu shop going forward from there, because they haven’t really had that many since then, you can see that the songs are very much intended for a live show and to be sung along to. And so in my opinion, they do lose some emotional depth. And that when Paul, they’re just not the same. They’re catching on. But I think that’s also maybe why they haven’t recorded that much original music in the last 10 years.

Sloane Spencer  17:12  As I said, I saw them about six years ago, is the most recent time, it was clear that the bulk of the set was we are bringing you the songs that by the second course you can all sing along with us even if you’ve never heard it before, like it was that kind of performance.

Rachel Cholst  17:25  Yeah, yeah. And I think like, they’re definitely some cool songs post, like 9099, or whatever. But I think flu shot is probably like their last great album. And that was definitely influenced by Hurricane Katrina. They’re all from New Orleans. And, you know, it’s a huge part of the band’s identity. And of course, the identity of the people in it as a result of the hurricane. Maybe the attitude softened, and there was more collaboration, co writing, and you can hear that drinks throughout the record, in my opinion.

Sloane Spencer  17:56  So I’ve never survived Hurricane on the level of Katrina, but I do live in hurricane zone where we deal with small scale hurricanes seasonally. And it’s it’s very much a part of life here of being prepared for your hurricanes. And you have hurricane shelves and hurricane bug out bag and a plan and all that kind of thing. But of the folks I know who survived Katrina specifically, I think it was a for every one of them that I’ve spoken to about it specifically, it was definitely a life changing experience, even for the people who were not directly impacted by the flooding in the aftermath. It was reevaluate your life experiences, which I feel like a lot of folks I’ve talked with are experiencing now through COVID as well.

Rachel Cholst  18:33  Yeah, Paul off everything. And then you hear that some of the songs, it is interesting to listen to Fred’s interview, because he talks about during that time period, the band was in debt, I think, from trying to buy back MCA masters. And I think once the, we’re all in this together, kind of faded away. And Paul was like, what is happening with my life? Like, I’m not to speculate too much, you know, revive some of the tensions and there’s never been like one dedicated bass player. And then when Paul left again, with like, bringing in new guitars, I think there were some interpersonal tensions around like, who was on whose side? Sure, but for a while, they hired a number of women basis. And that was really neat to see. And then it turned out that at least two of those women thesis were also queer. And I was like, Oh, hey, to role models now. So that was also great as a little baby gay. I connected to Mary and Sonia. And then when I heard their own music, I was like, oh, yeah,

Sloane Spencer  19:34  representation really matters. And as women rock fans or women music fans of popular music of any kind, you know, I can name for you the first women guitar players and women bass players that I ever saw because that was like, a novelty in the best way of like, holy cow, like a woman can play a bass. That’s awesome. And I didn’t even know that was possible.

Rachel Cholst  19:58  Yeah, I mean, I bought a bit because of them. Mary, listen, you know good old New Orleans French name if you look up her music, it’s sometimes under very less saying La SA and G and Sonia tetlow inspired by them as Sonia was in a band called FTB. That was that sort of Achensee and I listened to that band’s first album again recently. Like, I’m still feeling like experimental expansive, like Ani DiFranco kind of rock like rock and roll. I know that they hung out a little bit with the Indigo Girls, for me. So I would definitely recommend those albums too. They’re like on sort of haphazardly on like Bandcamp and Spotify. Like if you search STB, you’ll find them. Maybe if you search Sonia tetlow. And she had her own recent records to Sonia also inspired me to start Adobe and teardrops because I didn’t realize what it would be like to be a music blogger. So I kept writing the Brian childs on nine bullets being like, Yo, you should check this person out. You should check her out. I promise. I’m not a publicist. I’m a fan. Yeah, no, it was a yellow. But I also didn’t know that he was getting like hundreds of these emails a week, if not, okay. And so I was like, Oh, he’s not responding to me. And I’m feeling like nine bullets isn’t writing about as many women as I would like to see, I should start my own blog.

Sloane Spencer  21:19  So this is kind of cool, because I will say that I have since become friends with Brian Childs, the founder of nine bullets, if you’re familiar, which is named from a drive by trucker song, they weren’t quite influential in the early music blogger sphere in which we all sort of overlap with one another. But Brian was really supportive when I was starting my other project Country Fried Rock, like really helpful. And I now realize in retrospect, I asked some really inappropriate questions musically, and like professionally, and I was not aware of that. They were not questions you should ask somebody. Like, I just didn’t know that yellow flag thing.

Rachel Cholst  21:55  Yeah, I mean, I do want to say it was like nine bullet doesn’t writing like about woman. That’s not because of any kind of editorial choice or any, like direct sexism or anything like that everyone who’s written for them is like an amazing human. I think it’s just like we were saying representation matters. And sometimes you do gravitate towards music that you can identify with. And most of the writers are men. So that must always be your music by men. And that kind of implicit sexism that we’re all a part of. So I definitely don’t want to make it sound like I’m bad mouthing them, or that Brian was ignored if

Sloane Spencer  22:25  I’m guilty of being part of this machine as well. My personal preference happens to be a particular kind of punk country influenced music that does tend to be extremely straight white, male crafted, or by white male crafted, and I’m very aware of my own implicit bias in amplifying and platforming a narrow version of what is out there as well.

Rachel Cholst  22:49  Yeah. So you know, they’re, they weren’t doing anything differently than anybody else.

Sloane Spencer  22:55  I did not know of this era of cowboy mouth when they had Mary and Tanya playing bass at different times. And really, there’s been a rotating cast of characters through the band at different times. But it sounds like they’ve really been sort of a touch point for you, musically.

Rachel Cholst  23:11  Yeah, I mean, and also, I think, just as a person, because there’s like research or statistic or something that says, like you pretty much like glom on to one musical style when you’re a teenager. And that’s kind of just what you listen to forever. Yes. Even if you listen to other stuff, with what you go back to as like your comfort food. I’m guilty of this. Yeah, because I think just like, the values that the band had the kind of attention to how they interact with their audience during concerts. They were the first band I saw it live. That’s totally shaped my expectations of like, what a band should be like. We were kids, right. And they kept changing the age limit on these shows. By the time I turned 16 was 18 Plus, and by the time I turned 18, plus it was 21. Plus, oh, my parents would take us to these my dad went with us to a show like the night my grandpa’s his mother died.

Sloane Spencer  24:08  Oh, my goodness. So we have this uncommon in that my parents took us to shows starting when we were really little because they knew they were going to be out too late for a babysitter. So my parents would like to take us to rock clubs, and we would sleep like in the venue. I’ve seen all kinds of shows. And then ancient history. It’s probably illegal to do this now that my dad used to drop me off at the 688 Punk club in Atlanta and say, I’ll be waiting out here. Just come wake me up when you’re done. As a parent of a now 18 year old, there is no way I would have let my kid do that. Now.

Rachel Cholst  24:46  I’m glad he trusted you.

Sloane Spencer  24:48  Rachel Cole’s of Adobe and teardrops and the rainbow rodeo zine. Thank you so much for sharing with me about Jenny says and cowboy mouth. Thank you.

Rachel Cholst  24:58  Thank you. Yeah, I know they have a rabbit It’s kind of like a frat boy band but there are a lot of people out there for whom room they’ve done so much. And I hope that also it was a part of their legacy.

Sloane Spencer  25:08  Absolutely. So if you’re not familiar with man, definitely go and check out some of these YouTubes particularly of Jenny says, and then when things start getting back to whatever normal is going to be in the future, go see a show you can find out more about what we have to offer for you. At one hit history dot com you can support us at patreon.com/one Hit history. Thanks for being with us.