Here are some fun facts about singer-songwriter Jules Shear:
1. He’s from Pittsburgh. So is actor Jeff Goldblum, who stars in the pseudo-documentary Pittsburgh (2006), which chronicles his homecoming performance in a production of The Music Man five years ago. It also stars Illeana Douglas, a friend of Goldblum’s, who was dating Moby in ’04 and learning more than she wanted to about the musician’s appetite for pornography.
2. Douglas never dated Moby, hence Pittsburgh‘s status as a “pseudo-documentary,” but Moby did research his role by borrowing Jules Shear’s extensive collection of amateur porn.
(Okay, so that “fact” about Shear’s porn collection is a lie. And it’s possible he wouldn’t consider it to be “fun” either. But why should Jeff Goldblum be the only one allowed to blur the line between fact and fiction? On that note …)
3. For a brief period in the early ’90s Shear cut his own hair. When he was finished with a trim he’d yell, “Shear genius!” Sadly, no one was around to hear it.
4. The band Jules & the Polar Bears was originally going to consist of Shear and three actual polar bears, but due to his unwillingness to relocate to the North Pole — and polar bears’ general inability to play instruments — he eventually settled for human musicians David Beebe, Richard Bredice, and Stephen Hague. However, Shear insisted on treating them like real polar bears, going so far as to contractually limit them to an all-fish diet.
5. Jeff Goldblum starred in the 1988 movie Vibes with Cyndi Lauper, whose hit song “All Through the Night” (1983) was written and first recorded by Jules Shear. The soundtrack of 1985’s The Goonies includes two songs performed by Lauper as well as one by the Bangles, “I Got Nothing,” which was cowritten by Shear; the Bangles then covered Shear’s “If She Knew What She Wants,” another song he’d previously recorded for one of his own LPs, for their album Different Light (1986). Goldblum sings in Pittsburgh for his role as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, but songs like “Seventy-six Trombones” probably would’ve sounded better coming out of Lauper’s mouth.
6. “Jules Shear” is a stage name. His real name is Julianne Shear.
7. Did you know that legendary author Jules Verne once used rival sci-fi scribe H.G. Wells’s time machine to travel to 1984, where he declared Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” to be “not as good as that one Shear wrote”? And that after watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension he declared costar Jeff Goldblum to be “quirky as hell but fun to watch”?
9. The Pittsburgh Penguins recently won the Stanley Cup, but don’t talk about the reigning hockey champions around Jules Shear or he’ll go into a loud, profane tirade about how there aren’t any penguins in Pittsburgh. There aren’t any polar bears either, but you’ll only make things worse if you bring that up. Just change the subject to Happy Feet and you’ll see that he loves penguins — it’s lapses in geographical logic he can’t stand.
10. Though it hasn’t been confirmed that either Jules Shear or Jeff Goldblum has read Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, it’s nice to imagine them being members of the same book club. Especially if one’s a big fan of Jules Verne and the other’s a big fan of H.G. Wells and they’re willing to wrestle over who’s better.
This third and final segment of Vin Scelsa’s Live at Lunch from June 28, 2000, finds Shear discussing his unique guitar style, his experience writing songs with the Band for their 1993 album Jericho, and how much he enjoys the sharp bark of his dog, Cargo. He also performs live-in-the-studio versions of Johnny Rivers’s “The Poor Side of Town” and “If We Never Meet Again,” a tune he wrote in ’88 for his one-off band Reckless Sleepers that became a minor hit for Tommy Conwell & the Young Rumblers that same year.
Thanks again to Matt Wardlaw for providing the bootleg; in return, I’m giving him a key to Bootleg City. Unfortunately, I swallowed the key on a dare last night after a few too many Jack and Jacks, so he’ll have to wait a day or so for me to retrieve it. Even more unfortunately, it was a key card, so as much as it hurt going down, I know it’s going to hurt even worse on the way out.
Love With You (Jules Shear)
[interview: Cargo, Jules’s dog]
On These Wheels Again (Jules Shear and Suzzy Roche)
[interview: barking and duets]
Cold Hard Wind (Jules Shear, live)
[interview: guitar style]
The Poor Side of Town (Jules Shear, live)
[interview: the Walker Brothers]
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (Jules Shear)
[interview: the Band]
Too Soon Gone (The Band)
[interview: Rick Danko]
Just Another Railroad Train (Jules Shear, live)
If We Never Meet Again (Jules Shear, live)
[signing off: The Wizard of Oz]