In 2009, when John Frusciante left Red Hot Chili Peppers for the second time, Josh Klinghoffer took over as the band’s lead guitarist. When the Chilis invited Frusciante back for a third tenure 10 years later, Klinghoffer was kicked to the curb. Speaking with Marc Maron about his ouster, Klinghoffer sounded disappointed but not dejected.
Klinghoffer is now focused on his solo project Pluralone, which was supposed to open for Pearl Jam on tour this spring. Thanks to coronavirus, the John Frusciante of pandemics, that obviously did not happen. So like seemingly every other professional musician, Klinghoffer has been reduced to posting homemade performance videos while sheltering in place, like some YouTube striver.
That’s a lot of bad news. Now here’s the good news: With his head just outside the frame, Klinghoffer has covered “Not,” the instant-classic single from Big Thief’s Two Hands that was just about my favorite song of 2019. It seems Klinghoffer, like many of us, was just gobsmacked by Big Thief’s “Not” performance on Colbert:
Last year, one of my best friends played me a band he saw on the Late Night with Stephen Colbert. I can’t recall if I said “whoa” or “wow” or both, but it was a very pleasant smack in the face. A few days later he and I went to a show and on the way, he played me more of their music. Hooked. I realized I hadn’t felt this much love for a new band in twenty years. That was both sad and disturbing. I’m not sure who it says what about, but regardless, I was head-over-heals in love with Big Thief. We got to see them in Santa Ana a month or so later and it’s been really fun to feel so excited by a newer band. I’ve listened to this song about 7,319 times and still replace an “a” for a “the,” and a “bed” for a “breath,” but nevertheless, I love this song. I love all their songs, but this was the first one I ever heard and I played a lot, and though I’m a whole step lower than they are normally, I feel like I shouldn’t post this because it’s almost like I’m doing an impression. I’m not, it’s just really comfortable for me to sing. Again, I love this song (I heard Obama likes it too), I love this band, and I love my friend for showing them to me, among many other things and reasons.
Here’s to great bands and great friends.
“Not” is apparently becoming a standard; the National’s Matt Berninger also covered it last year, around the same time Pluralone dropped his debut album To Be One With You.