The co-founder of the Jigsaw Seen 25 years ago (alongside ace guitarist Jonathan Lea), former all-Maryland high-school soccer player Dennis Davison gets his exercise these days as a professional dog-walker. Strolling L.A.’s concrete canyons gives him ample time to do what he does best: write distinctively original lyrics and melodies that give off the mere whiff of former heroes such as the Bee Gees, Who and Love. Unlike previous albums, Old Man Reverb, Jigsaw’s fourth set of originals in the past four years, has a unified sound running throughout. Davison and Lea will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the Jigsaw Seen.
Davison: “I’m with you!” That’s the phrase that’s been imbedded in my brain since childhood, delivered by a strange-looking wild-eyed man with a lizard-like countenance. Today’s hipsters might know Stan Ross best from his brief role in Russ Meyer’s cult film Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, but my memory of him was from the Jackie Gleason Show. Stan’s odd presence influenced me enough to collaborate on a song with Jonathan Lea that was inspired by his comedic weirdness. The song “I’m With you” appears on The Jigsaw Seen album Zenith.
I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with Mr. Ross a few years ago, after a friend had run into his son Marlon and told him about our song that was inspired by his father. Stan and Marlon couldn’t have been more gracious, and Marlon literally tried to give me the shirt off his back. In fact, it was the last T-shirt that he had left over from the ’60s with a cartoon image of Stan emblazoned with his catch phrase “I’m with you.”
I learned many things about “the Great One” (Jackie Gleason) that day. None of it good! Stan was more than happy to deliver his “I’m with you “ declaration and the same eerie, thrilling feeling that swept over me as a child was there, but tempered by a new understanding of the old man sitting next to me, with the history of American comedy running through his veins.
At one point during our visit, Stan looked over at me and said, “You’re a good-looking guy.” Now if you’re ever seen Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, you might recall Stan’s freaky, disciple character excitedly exclaiming “mayonnaise” in a sexually charged manner. That scene zoomed through my head in a split second and when I came back to my senses, I realized that the line was not an invitation to a kinky mayonnaise party, but a flattering remark from a generous man who was complimenting his guest.
I urge you to check out Stan’s work. I think you will be intrigued.
Video after the jump.