15 Years Ago: Perry Farrell Releases His First Solo Album, ‘Song Yet to Be Sung’
After years fronting Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros, Perry Farrell released his first proper solo album, Song Yet to Be Sung, on July 16, 2001. As usual, the record found him exploring new creative ground.
Farrell broke through in a big way in alternative rock as leader of Jane’s Addiction in 1985. The 1988 song “Jane Says,” about a woman mired in drug addiction, was shocking to hear on the radio at the time. And most who watched MTV in the early ‘90s remember their “Been Caught Stealing” video, which starred a cross-dressing kleptomaniac going awry in the local convenience store. It was hilarious and bizarre at the same time and received heavy rotation on the influential TV channel.
But one of Farrell’s biggest contributions to music has been Lollapalooza. Originally created as a farewell for Jane's Addiction in 1991, the event has since morphed into an annual summer alternative rock fest.
In 1999, he released Rev, which is credited to him although it's really a mix of music from Porno for Pyros and Jane’s Addiction with a few solo tracks. It was more of a contractual obligation than an original record. But Song Yet to Be Sung was a definite shift in sound from the sludgier Jane’s Addiction and the slicker Porno for Pyros.
Clearly, Farrell was searching for new musical avenues at the time. Song is filled with experimental percussion, heavy electronica and hints of electropop framed around the psychedelic acid rock style he’s known for.
The album’s lyrics were inspired by the Kabbalah, teachings that originated in Judaism (Farrell's birth name is Peretz Bernstein). Kabbalah seeks to understand the universe, as well as the human race, and offers ways to understand those concepts to achieve spiritualization.
“Happy Birthday Jubilee,” the opening track, is planted squarely in the hazy world of electronica, but seems overproduced and heavy, stuck in the ‘90s.
“'Jubilee' means to me a time where one stops for a moment and considers liberation, redemption, celebration, gathering…” says Farrell in an interview released as part of the album's official electronic press kit.
The title track may be the most well known from the album, and was featured in trailers for the TV series Smallville in 2001. Its misty-eyed vibe seemed the perfect fit for the small-screen story about Clark Kent – mysterious, moody and sexy.
“Shekina” is a nearly nine-minute dance-electronica track that’s been one of Farrell’s deepest forays into meditative trance music. The line “Outside heaven drizzles / Grow us up a field of apples” is happy enough, but leans too far toward the trippy psychedelia side of things, while “Nua Nua” delves even deeper into Middle Eastern musical styles.
“I’m trying to feel it out because there’s so much great potential for electronics to make powerful, very moving songs. I want to extend [the genre]. I want to take what I already hear and I want to see what I can do with it,” he told MTV in 1999.
Farrell certainly achieves plenty of experimentation on Song. “My ambition, vocally, was to ride on the back of the music’s sound, because the music’s sound was inviting me to dance, and I was gonna be your subconscious … so that’s gonna be your harmonies. I just start fanning out harmonies,” Farrell explained on his EPK.
“When you really start to play music all day and listen to music all night, there’s a certain vibe where everything’s smooth and music is pouring out. It’s almost like people beginning to prophecy,” he adds.
Farrell’s yearning for the meaning of life through music may have had something to do with becoming a father a few years before Song. And he admitted he was trying to better himself. “Well, I don’t drink or do drugs [anymore]: how’s that? It’s a pretty big change,” Farrell told MTV in March 1999.
Six years after the release of Song Yet to Be Sung, Ferrell re-emerged with yet another group, Satellite Party, which also featured Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt. The following year he reunited with Jane's Addiction, who have toured semi-regularly and released two new studio album, 2003's Strays and 2011's The Great Escape Artist, since then.
Every Jane's Addiction Album Ranked From Worst to First