Green On Red Man Dan Stuart Completes Marlowe Trilogy

Green On Red Man Dan Stuart Completes Marlowe Trilogy: Real life, they say, is often stranger than fiction. The last few years on this seemingly doomed planet have certainly proved that. In Dan Stuart’s case, the two flats are mixed, stirred, and served on a platter.

Stuart fronted Green On Red, the Arizona band that had some success in Los Angeles, somewhat in line with the Paisley Underground with the likes of The Bangles and the Rain Parade. They went more along the alt-country route lantern, but between 1983 and 1992 they released seven impressive albums. They got together briefly in the mid-1990s, but that was the end of the run.

Stuart has been something of an artistic journeyman ever since, with a touch of the Renaissance man around him. He knocked on the door of several musicians, and he saw his first book, The Redemption of Marlowe Billingspublished in 2014 along with a solo album of the same name.

He released an album called Marlowe’s Revenge in 2016, but no book this time. Then, in 2018, he had his second book published – The unfortunate demise of Marlowe Billings – again next to an album of the same name. For his new, third book, he had to go back there Marlowe’s Revenge album for inspiration. It’s all a bit confusing, but untangling the knots is part of the fun. So is the plot.

“There were three records and three books,” Stuart says by phone. “I made a record called Marlowe’s Revenge that didn’t come with a book when I released it. It was kind of an odd one out. I knew I had to write another book now. The past few years have been so bizarre. What’s real and what’s not – I can’t figure it out. I know I was in a ’72 Winnebago behind a duplex a friend of mine owns in Downtown Tucson in 2018/19. That’s where I started it, and I was always baffled by my years in Tucson in the ’90s. It’s my hometown and I come and go every ten years. So it made sense to write the book of those years. Also Marlowe died in my second book, The unfortunate demise. Marlowe died in 2015 or so, so I had to go back.”

One thing that is relatively clear is that Marlowe is Stuart. That’s his alter ego – a kind of pseudonym that allows him to play with the facts.

“I was always amazed at how far back he went,” Stuart says. “Our first real record in Green On Red was for Slash Records and was called Gravity talks. Someone had bought the vinyl and recently found it somewhere, and it contained a press release from Slash Records. In it we talk about what we wanted to call the record The Redemption of Marlowe Billings.”

(R&R press)

In the introduction to the new book, Stuart notes that it is about 65% true, but he doesn’t know which 65%. However, you start to get a hint as you read. His level of detail when discussing golf, for example, suggests he knows what he’s talking about. No one who doesn’t play golf would choose to research golf.

“I played an obscene amount of golf in the ’90s,” he says. “We played a little bit in LA in the ’80s – I had musician friends, and we went to the little executive course at Los Feliz, and you’d see unemployed actors there. I played with my dad a lot as a kid, so that would have been 8, 9, 10 to go to high school and we despised each other. I was an insufferable teenager – it wasn’t his fault. When I got back to Tucson about ’92, an old Texas man said the game waits like a mistress. It is an activity where you get a calm feeling after you have finished the round. Less fear. That was very helpful in drug withdrawal symptoms. It’s not a nice thing. There are the first few weeks of hell, then there are just months of insomnia and the inability to distinguish between high and low level stress. I had all that going on, so golf was a good way to help with that. ”

There was also really, as described in the book, a failed smash-and-grab at an Arizona musical instrument store (called the Chicago Music Store) that led to his move to LA and the band’s formation shortly after. So again, the truth rubs off on the fiction in the Marlowe books. Maybe it’s better not to worry about it and just enjoy it. Stuart calls himself an “unreliable narrator” and rightly so, but it doesn’t do justice to how great his books are. The reader ends up on a dusty road trip accompanied by crime and addiction. It’s great that the album offers something of a soundtrack.

“The Marlowe record I made with this fantastic band in Mexico City called Twin Tones, but they’re more famous for their cumbia band Sonido Gallo Negro,” Stuart says. “That’s a much bigger band. One of the things I was trying to tell myself with this was to try not to screw it up with too much self-examination. Get out of the way. There is no exact match between the records and the books, other than the titles. But I think if I’m lucky, 100 years from now, some unlucky student has to examine it, maybe they can see it. I definitely don’t want to look for it.”

But again, it really doesn’t matter. The books are great, the albums are great and at least make for a fitting listening experience while reading. They coexist comfortably, if not aligned. We definitely recommend digging in and exploring the work for yourself.

Green On Red Man Dan Stuart Completes Marlowe Trilogy: Dan Stuart’s book Marlowe’s Revenge is out now on R&R Press.

Editor’s Note: The disclaimer below refers to advertising posts and does not apply to this or any other editorial. LA Weekly editors sell and will not sell any content.

Ad Disclosure: We may receive compensation for some links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

Leave a Comment