Four Times When Exene Cervenka Sang Outside of X

Monday, February 1, 2016
Four Times When Exene Cervenka Sang Outside of X

Today's the day that X marks the big 6-0 for the exceptional woman who's helped keep John Doe honest within the ranks of one of the most venerable bands to emerge from the Los Angeles punk movement.

In celebration of Exene Cervenka's 60th birthday, we're of course going to offer up a playlist featuring the best of X, but in addition we decided we'd also throw a little bit of trivia your way by delivering a list of four occasions when Ms. Cervenka popped up on other people's songs.

The Plugz, “Mindless Contentment” - If you're an aficionado of the L.A. punk scene of the late '70s and early '80s, then you're likely already well aware of these guys, who are often described as the first D.I.Y. punk band in L.A. because they started their own label, Plugz Records. Anyway, being as they were playing out at around the same time as X, it's not hard to work out how Exene managed to contribute guest vocals to this track from their 1978 debut single.

Old 97's, “Four Leaf Clover” - Even if you're not an Old 97's fan, you still might've heard this song, as it turned up on an episode of Veronica Mars once upon a time. The band's lead singer, Rhett Miller, had been looking for a song to do as a debut with Exene, with whom he was friends, but she deemed his initial pitch “too pretty.” That song ended up being called “Fireflies,” but she liked “Four Leaf Clover” better, thankfully, although did she did change one of its lyrics from “nothing to impress you” to “nothing to attract you.” Miller approved of the switch-up, however, deeming her alternate word choice “much sexier.”

Dex Romweber Duo, “Lonesome Train” - Back in the glory days of the Athens, Georgia music scene - by which we mean the '80s, when bands like The B-52's, R.E.M., and Dreams so Real were emerging - Dexter Romweber was best known as one of the guys from Flat Duo Jets. Of late, however, he and his sister Sara, formerly of Let's Active, have been working under the moniker Dex Romweber Duo, and this track from their debut album finds his vocals blending perfectly with Exene's growl.

The Blasters, 'Jackson” - We started this with a classic L.A. band and we're wrapping it up with another one. The Blasters were a really big deal in the early '80s, but the departure of Dave Alvin from their ranks effectively ended the band for almost two decades. They got back together in 2004, however, and while The Blasters remain a Dave-free zone, they're still doing good work, including this classic Johnny Cash cover. If there's anyone who could possibly have done June Carter Cash's lines justice, it's Exene.