Anyone up for a 10 minute 46 second song about a drug-enabled three-day orgy? of course you are. Just don’t expect me to be remotely objective about anything here I have loved every nanosecond of Jane’s Addiction Three Days, ever since I first heard it on this 12″ promo single that I bought mail order from the US. Getting all crushed up on the front row of their gig at Leeds University on 11 March 1991 and hearing the band gliding through the end section remains one of my favourite gig moments ever.
The song tells the tale of what happened when a former girlfriend of Perry Farrell’s, known as Xiola Blue came to Los Angeles for her father’s funeral for three days and stayed with Perry and his then girlfriend, Casey Niccoli. Now all of us, I am sure, would extend a hand to help a friend at such a difficult and emotional time, it’s the least we could do. Perry, being Perry* this took the form of a three-day three-way between him and the ladies concerned, fuelled by Crom knows what transcendental chemical Catherine wheels. Obviously this was done in a spirit of an artistic adventurous rejection of the restrictive norms and outdated Christian morality wrongly fetishized by society, aiming for ultimate spiritual satisfaction. And not just because they fancied three days of frenzied coupling. Nope, not at all.
Anyway, my bourgeois jealousy aside, Three Days is a seriously great record. It defies any real categorisation and containment, shifting shimmering musical sections and lyrical perspectives collide resulting in a track that stands proud and alone amongst all the band’s music and anything that anyone else was doing at the time. Parts of ‘Three days’ sound like Blue Oyster Cult, Bauhaus and Exodus jamming together, the fact it all fits and flows so well together has everything to do with the incredible skill of the band and deft production of Dave Jerden.
A quietly spoken poem by Perry sets the scene before it’s buried under Dave Navarro’s picking. You can hear elements of the poem during the quieter parts of the song’s opening sections, the exact words spoken being a matter of hot contention between my fellow Jane’s Addiction scholars.
At this moment
you should be with us
feeling like we do
like you love to
but never will again
I miss you my dear Xiola
I prepared the room tonight
with Christmas lights
a city of candles
Incredibly ‘Three Days’ was written at least three years before it saw light of day on Ritual De Lo Habitual, so polished were the band that most of the finished music track was recorded in one take and a minimum of overdubs used. Jane’s Addiction at the absolute height of their powers were brilliantly, almost frighteningly good, particularly the rhythm section of Stephen Perkins and Eric A who seemed to communicate and play almost telepathically at that point. Add Navarro’s off-kilter guitar genius and Perry’s crooning banshee into the mix and you get something here that was never repeated.
The section which drops out into a percussive breakdown where the more metallic elements of Navarro’s playing cuts in, just before Perry shouts, ‘Erotic Jesus lays with his Marys’ is my favourite slice of ‘Three Days’ tonight; live they really teased us with it, made it much heavier – Perry’s line crashing against the music like a wave breaking across a lifeboat. This rocks!
The US Three Days 12″ was a double A-side release with ‘Stop!’*^. The B-side is a demo version of ‘I Would For You’, a track the band jettisoned somewhere between the first LP, Jane’s Addiction, and Nothing’s Shocking. I really like this song, plaintive and slightly woozy, it’s that rarest of things, a totally sincere-sounding love song and this demo has, for me, one of Perry’s best vocal performances on it, the man sounds truly vulnerable.
The UK 12″ version of Three Days is a single A-side release and adds the demo version of ‘Jane Says’ to sweeten the deal, one of my favourite tracks period. The demo version is an interesting work in progress but its all the finishing touches on the studio version that endow it with all its majesty. You can’t expect me to like a version of ‘Jane Says’ without the steel drums can you? foolish mortal.
But the B-sides are the window-dressing here, along with the creepy Santería-style artwork, the real potatoes here is ‘Three days’. It may have been born of empty vials and mucky sheets but it remains a thing of rare kick-ass beauty. Amen.
All now with wings…
*something akin to a drug-crazed highly libidinous gibbon at the time, from what I can glean.
**the least you can do pal, after all that crazy sexing that went on earlier.
*^another genius track from Jane’s Addiction, but I’ll save that one for another time.