Jack Attack

Posted by on Mar 17, 2010 | Comments (6)

This week’s music column is on Jack Springs, a 25-year-old high-functioning mentally retarded metal musician who sings about how he’s been mistreated in life. I didn’t know Jack was mentally retarded when I met him; he offered the information unsolicited, just like he freely shared his stories about having his head shoved into the toilet in school, or getting his ass kicked by bullies after being coerced into smoking marijuana.

The more I talked with Jack, the more I appreciated the raw honesty in his songs. Just like the sketchy handwriting in a junior high love note render feelings on the notebook page more real, the jagged delivery and lateral combination of lyrics in Jack’s songs tilt at the true turmoil that he lives with each day as a developmentally disabled man in a judgmental world.

Here’s some of the songs discussed in the article. There’s talk already amongst local musicians about forming a backing band so he can play live:

1. “My Rights Were Violated.” The first song Jack recorded. His statement of purpose. The theme to a million revenge stories boiled down to eight simple words. Click here to listen.

2. “The Jack Tracks.” A unique selection among Jack’s songs in that he addresses portions of it to himself. Near the end, he dedicates it to James, “a role model.” I had assumed he’s referring to James Hetfield, but it’s actually his father James, who’s passed away. Click here to listen.

3. “Violated Nights.” The incredible transformation of Jack the avant-beat songwriter with an out-of-tune electric guitar into Jack the hardcore larynx shredder with a score to settle. Chills. Click here to listen.

4. “Violated Days.” The CD-R that I received lists this song as “All of My Rights Were Broken to Pieces and Now I Am Going to Take All My Rights Back From You and Then Your Heart Will Stop Beating,” which, as you’ll hear, are the song’s complete lyrics. Jack’s since informed me that the song is called “Violated Days.” Either way, it’s amazing. Click here to listen.

Incidentally, to prepare for the interview, Jack brought me a list of his influences, written on a napkin. He tells me Metallica’s too commercial now that they get played on the radio all the time. (He also credits Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” as the thematic inspiration for writing songs about his rights.) You’ll see a band at the top of the list, Torn Back, which is Jack’s brother’s band, and Intangled, another local metal band who are friends with Jack—proof that the metal community can provide support to outcasts when no one else will.

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  1. Dean
    March 18, 2010

    His voice on “Violated Days” is amazing. These songs are totally rad!

  2. Leilani
    March 18, 2010

    I really liked this article. It got me thinking about how transformative artistic expression can be, and also the radness of seing someone just doing his thing without giving a shit about what other people think. I admire his ability to transform gnarly life experiences into something else, into his music and brutal honesty. I hope he gets to play live soon.

  3. Dan the man
    March 22, 2010

    I remember the primal empowerment that I felt when I discovered heavy metal and the kinship I felt with the likes of Kurt Cobain and Jello Biafra who expressed their rage at the injustice that they had experienced in their own lives. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for The Jack Tracks to hit number one, but I’m stoked that Jack has found a way to express himself and reclaim the confidence and self-worth that the cold-hearted bastards of his youth tried to take from him. May their hearts stop beating. Rock on, Jack! Music is powerful stuff, isn’t it? And thanks for sharing his story.

  4. Aaron Begley
    April 21, 2011

    Thanks to Gabe and Jesse for recognizing how great Jack’s music is.

    I wish I knew how to express myself so honestly and so confidently through music.

  5. Sam
    November 2, 2011

    The links seem to be outdated. Any ideas where I could find Jack’s music?


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