Ezra Furman only popped onto my radar back in July. Ezra was playing at The Joiners, a local venue, the following week, and a friend has posted a YouTube clip on Facebook to highlight this. I took a listen, liked what I heard, explored a bit more and thought that this sounded like an interesting proposition. So booked tickets for myself and my daughter.
The following day it happened to be my birthday, and as a result of mentioning the gig to said daughter she ended up buying me a copy of Furman’s 2013 album Day Of The Dog. It’s that album that My Zero is taken from.
Furman is a hard act to categorise. There’s definitely a punk attitude behind the music that he makes. There are strains of rockabilly in there, touches of do-wop. He seems to be a relatively shy individual, but his performances and songs are in-your-face, heart-on-the-sleeve, visceral, dwelling on his Jewish roots and his mental health challenges amongst other things. Oh, and he can often be found – on stage and off – in a dress and make-up.
But there’s no doubting the man’s commitment. He’s certainly not blessed with the prettiest of voices, but more than makes up for it with edge and attitude, songs that are real punch of rawness, energy and emotion. Yet for all that these are songs with melody at their heart. He’s unlikely to be a major star, but who cares. This is a man who clearly has to make music, and has to make music like this. The world is a better place for that.
And so to the song sheet. The song is basically just a constant repeat of four chords. And they’re not difficult chords (I’ve transposed it down a semitone from the original, which is in G#). I’ve also added in a couple of riffs as well which play over the top of the instrumentals – the first performed on guitar on the original, the second by keyboards. There’s a distinctive strumming pattern which you hear on the intro to the original, that isn’t too hard to replicate – it goes something like duXuduXu, where X is a damping the strings, but probably best just to listen to it to get the feel.