Monday, June 05, 2006

Be A Hobo

Moondog, the alias for Louis T. Hardin, was a pioneer in the minimalist/avant-garde music scene, if not its progenitor. Blinded at the age of 17 from a fireworks accident, he was taught at various music schools for the blind, but, in a remarkable example of the compensational amplification of one sense so often reported in those who lose another, largely learned chord structures by ear alone. I'll let an excerpt from an as-yet unpublished biography of Moondog, by "literary studies professor" Robert Scotto, explain some of the rest:

"Arriving with no contacts and only one months rent, for the next 30 years he became something of a cultural enigma. It was during this period of flirtation with the Big Apple that the Moondog legend began. Positioning himself on 54th Street and Avenue, later to be known as Moondog corner, he would entertain crowds playing his compositions on home made drums and some portable keyboards and reciting his own poetry. His eccentricity was furthered by the fact that sporting a long beard and a spear, he wore home made clothes consisting of a robe, a vikings helmet, and leather patchwork trousers again the influence of the Indians having effect. However, this unsual form of dress was to lose him prestigious contracts in the future.

As the legend would have it, musicians from the Carnegie Hall spotted Moondog just across the way from where he entertained. Impressed by what they saw they persuaded the conductor Arthur Rodzinski to let him sit in on rehearsals."
(read the rest at Moondog's official website)

Anyway, it's a really cool story, and this guy essentially came out with just the strangest avant-garde material in 1956, of all years, with his first self-titled release. None of it sounds in the least dated, and stands up to the work of later, more "modern" avant-gardeists with ease. Here are some songs:

Download "Lullaby"
Download "Surf Session"


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