The first-ever duo album from X founding singers and chief songwriters Exene Cervenka and John Doe began about three years ago as a humble keepsake they made as a fan-only offer to those who turned out for their 2009-2010 tour as a twosome.
Now it’s been released by a fledgling label, Orange-based Moonlight Graham Records. It the inaugural offering from what is promised to be a string of recordings by Southern California musicians that will also include former TSOL frontman Jack Grisham and beyond.
The eight tracks on “John Doe and Exene Cervenka Singing and Playing Live” constitute a combination of songs written independently and several on which they collaborated. Included are "Never Enough," which Doe recorded in a different version for his 2011 solo album, "Keeper," and "Lonesome War," which Cervenka had written on her own, but never released. ("It was tailor-made for us," Doe said.)
Pop & Hiss sat down with them last week to talk about the album for a profile in Tuesday’s Calendar. Doe, who arrived first to the interview, was invited to talk about the first track, “It Just Dawned on Me,” which stood out as a sterling example of the unexpected directions that he and Cervenka have gone throughout their careers together and apart.
“It’s a typically John-and-Exene song,” he said of this stripped-down, predominantly acoustic affair that demonstrates how they still complement one another more than three decades after X was born on the gritty back streets of the City of Angels.
Its arc begins with the singer’s moment of awareness that a romantic partner has emotionally exited a relationship. Initial reactions of confusion and hurt lead to the realization that maybe the split isn’t such a bad thing after all.