Surfing The Beard Of Felt

Dave HendersonFirebrands

It’s only a mini Moondog made of felt! What else could a grown man want. Part of the legacy of outsider tat currently available for a pretty penny at the Hey Kids Rock ‘n’ Roll site (Find it here).

The site also boasts dioramas of Delia Derbyshire, jumping Adam Ants and all sorts of essential reconstructions.

 

According to Wikipediia, Moondog, real name Louis Thomas Hardin, was a “blind American composer, musician, cosmologist, poet, and inventor of several musical instruments” who, during the 1940’s and ‘50s, trod the streets of New York busking for a living in homemade garb that led to the name “The Viking Of 6th Avenue”.

 

Spotted by the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Arthur Rodzinski, Moondog recorded several 78s and EPs that are now hugely valuable as were his early sides for the Prestige label that were gathered together as the album ‘Moondog’ from 1956, ‘More Moondog’ from the same year that includes ‘All Is Loneliness’ that would later be covered by Janis Joplin and ‘The Story of Moondog’ from 1957.

 

The three albums include monologues, toccato’s, suites and piano pieces that are littered with homemade instruments and a compositional skill that adds an otherworldly vibe and an ethereal modal construction to some pieces. Moondog would go on to gain ‘60s acceptance on the psyche scene when later recordings were put together by Columbia Records, but these earthy takes are a beautiful introduction of a talent whose street awareness and understanding of his New York environment was central to his music.

 

Weirdly, though, the producers of Julie Andrews (later of The Sound Of Music of course) thought he could provide the perfect backdrop to her imminent album. It was an odd marriage brought together by Martyn Green for an album of nursery rhymes called ‘Tell It Again’. You can hear it on the Fidelity Masters’ set ‘The Way Out Sound Of Moondog’, (find it here). That’s comprehensive rumble from his early 78s right through to that nursery rhyme oddity.