I saw OUT OF THE FURNACE something like eight times, Jack Erdie up there on the Big Screen with heavyweights like Sam Shepard, Christian Bale, Forest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Casey Affleck, appearing to be every bit their equal.
But I became friends with Jack Erdie through contact with his music.
WHEN THE HURRICANE HIT, PUMPKIN and MYSTERY SANDWICH—those are his album titles. When I get a chance to hear him, I almost always request “Battered Umbrella.” “Speed of Darkness.” “I’m a Walker.” “Let Their Heads Roll.”
The new album The Little Wretches are working on (if a lot of things go right) will close with a version of Jack’s RISE combined with an old hymn, called, “SWANAGE.”
I tagged Jack Erdie in a Facebook post recently, and this is what he wrote:
“As far as I'm concerned, Robert A. Wagner is Pittsburgh's musical poet laureate. Punk, roots and rock in the most authentic sense. His body of work contains the aspirations, toil, triumphs, bittersweet revelations, disillusionment and not a little of the mystery of humanity, of the folk.
I've done interviews and come away embarrassed at my meandering and lack of meaningful focus. THIS is a primer for how serious artists ought to conduct themselves in an interview. Robert's responses are as lucid, evocative, honest and occasionally discomfiting as his songs.
For me, Robert's words in this interview blaze off the page with all the startling immediacy, candor and urgency of a poet caught up in the life and death struggle of some resistance against the hostile takeover of his homeland.
He has earned a much wider listening audience. And some of them have earned his music. But he's put it out there for everybody, like the salvation in which I know him to believe.
Please give him a read and a listen. And may his music be the motivational challenge, nourishment and mirror for you that it has been for me.”
Thank you, my friend.