“The coun­try I knew had al­most dis­ap­peared”

FJ McMahon, cult singer-song­writer and Viet­nam vet, re­turns to ac­tion...

UNCUT - - Iron & Wine Omd Steven Wilson Kd Lang U2 Sly Stone -

The morn­ing af­ter, FJ McMahon is still savour­ing the night be­fore. Backed by dream-psych band Quilt, the vet­eran singer-song­writer chose LA’s The Sanc­tu­ary for his first ever live per­for­mance of Spirit Of The

Golden Juice. The only al­bum of McMahon’s ca­reer passed vir­tu­ally un­no­ticed in 1969, but a se­ries of reis­sues (the lat­est on An­thol­ogy) have el­e­vated it to the sta­tus of cult clas­sic.

“I knew there was in­ter­est in the al­bum, but didn’t re­alise how much un­til last night,” says McMahon, down the line from his Cal­i­for­nian home. “It was a sell-out crowd and we ended up get­ting two stand­ing ova­tions. It was com­pletely over­whelm­ing.”

Spirit Of The Golden Juice was the prod­uct of his ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the ’60s. Over spare psych-folk ar­range­ments, his mea­sured, au­thor­i­ta­tive voice lays out an ex­is­ten­tial doc­u­ment of a na­tion in spir­i­tual cri­sis. And McMahon was bet­ter qual­i­fied than most in tak­ing the tem­per­a­ture of the era. he en­listed in the US Air Force in 1965 and, two years later, was called up to serve in Viet­nam. “I’d been sta­tioned up near San Fran­cisco and would guard nu­clear weapons by night, then party in haight-Ash­bury and Golden Gate Park in the day­time,” he re­calls. “I left the US in the Sum­mer Of Love, came back a year later and the coun­try I knew had al­most dis­ap­peared. I felt to­tal alien­ation. If you were a re­turn­ing Viet­nam vet, the first thing you’d do was take your uni­form off and throw it away, be­cause you’d be at­tacked. The party was over.”

McMahon fed this sense of un­cer­tainty and dis­quiet into Spirit

Of The Golden Juice (named af­ter the IW harper bour­bon that “fu­elled the times”) and joined the anti-war

FJ McMahon in the late ’60s, chart­ing a na­tion in spir­i­tual cri­sis

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