HBO releases a meditative new show with NY underground figurehead and Lounge Lizards saxophonist John Lurie.
Thirty years after the subversive cult classic Fishing with John first aired, saxophonist and Lounge Lizards founder John Lurie returns with a new series. Less of a Bob Ross how-to painting show than a meditative reflection on life, art and creativity, we sit table-side with Lurie as he creates. Through intermittent extreme closeup, we see Lurie honing his watercolor techniques and watch the colors morph and bloom while he shares what he’s learned about life — of the times doing illicit drugs with Rick James and Studio 54’s Steve Rubell in a broom closet for 3 hours, and of meeting Barry White.
Lurie eventually explains his departure from music. He contracted Lyme Disease 20 years ago and the toll it took later lead to a cancer diagnosis that rendered him physically unable to play live music. His abrasive and eclectic jazz group the Lounge Lizards (which featured many of NYC underground’s finest such as Arto Lindsay and Anton Fier) was a favorite of Andy Warhol. But Lurie was much more than a musician. He was a fixture of the ’70s New York art scene; he starred in cult films such as Paris, Texas, and frequently collaborated with director Jim Jarmusch; Lurie scored many other films.
Even Jean-Michel Basquiat for a time slept on his apartment floor. In 1991, Lurie developed his own television series, Fishing with John, which was literally a show about men including Tom Waits, Dennis Hopper, Willem DeFoe and Matt Dillon fishing with John. Painting with John follows a similar premise, but it’s more of a spiritual sequel, with an older, arguably wiser Lurie irreverently reminding us to prioritize fun and creativity while captivating us with his storied history and idiosyncratic observations.
Watch a trailer below. Full episodes streaming now at HBO Max.