New Grass Revival


, , , , , , ,

New Grass Revival is at the top of any list of practitioners of progressive bluegrass music, or Newgrass as it is often called.  In fact, the term “Newgrass” was likely appropriated by admirers of this group.

Progressive bluegrass departs from the rather rigid conventions of traditional bluegrass which is characterized by specific roster of all-acoustic instruments – usually banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, double bass, and vocals; its repertory of traditional folk songs; and its constrained musical structure – a limited range of key and time signatures, three or four chords in any given song, and tightly structured instrumental breaks.

Newgrass takes these conventions and blows them to smithereens.  In Newgrass you will find, infused into the bluegrass sound, electric instruments, drums, keyboards, and any other musical apparatus the world has to offer.  The repertory includes grassy versions of pop, rock, jazz, world, and classical songs, and the compositions draw from every musical genre.  Upon the traditional forms, are imposed uncomfortable key signatures, asymmetrical times and tempos, complex harmonic structures, and long improvised instrumental jams.

Any way you want to categorize it, the romping music of New Grass Revival is spectacular.  And this song, a live version of “Fly Through the Country,” epitomizes the Newgrass genre.

The signature vamp sliding around in a minor mode on the strings of the electrified mandolin tells you right out of the box that this ain’t gonna be like your mama’s Foggy Mountain Boys.  This song was written by Jimmy Webb, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, and I doubt even he could have anticipated where NGR would take his song.

The words are about suffering from a congested Modern World state of mind – “my eyes are red, my head feels like an unmade bed” – which can only be cured by an escape to the country.

Gonna fly through the country
Hangin’ on the trees
Pickin’ berries in the underbrush
Crawlin’ on my knees

After the verses and choruses the song jumps into a long wonderful jam.  As arranged by NGR, this is a mandolin song, centering on the legendary Sam Bush (who, golldarnit, is also a spectacular fiddler).  He flails out the solo and elides the notes as if his fingers were made of glass and then settles down in kinda smooth and sneaky so that guitarist Curtis Burch can dive in picking out swarms of notes punctuated by elaborate chords, until the mandolin brings on another round of singing, and then the mandolin, distorted by a gurgling flange, carries on a protracted conversation with Courtney Johnson’s intricate syncopated banjo.  Toward the end, when you hear John Cowan howl the word “Fly” over nine bars, you have been beguiled so deep and whooped so high, you know it doesn’t get any better than this.

Jimmy Webb, “Fly Through the Country,” Barren County Music (BMI) (No date).  From:  New Grass Revival, Too Late to Turn Back Now, Flying Fish Records, Flying Fish 050 (1977).  Album design – Penny Case; Cover design and illustration – Rance L. Barela.



, , , ,

One look at the album art and you know that, either this guy has a great sense of humor or else he is one of the most self deluded egomaniacs of all time.  Humor wins!  This is because he really is one of those bigger-than-life people, and has the self confidence and self awareness to make fun of himself.  On the cover he holds a group of snarling dobermans.  But his body!  Herculean proportions, oaken limbs, puissant visage, he looks like an assemblage of over-inflated condoms tied together to approximate the form of a human being.  It turns out that Thor is really a successful professional bodybuilder.  Among his accomplishments were the titles of Mr. Canada in the 1973 International Federation of Bodybuilders competition and Mr. USA in the 1973 American Amateur Bodybuilding Association competition.

All the songs are boastful and cartoonish.  This one, “Military Matters,” begins with nimble descending and ascending scales on the lead guitar.  A military beat introduces the singers, declaiming in unison:

I think we’re heading for the rising storm
Show you sights you‘ve never seen before
They’re getting ready for the Third World War
As they ride ride ride ride ri-ide
On the wings of the Valkyrie

Thor orates in stentorian voice:

There’s talk of military matters
I can hear that in the wind
It’s much too hot to handle
As the rumble starts again

This song does not awaken in me the Third-World-War terrors that kept me awake at night in third grade.  Rather, it is out of the pages of the comics from that time, like DC’s Sgt. Rock and Marvel’s Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, and, of course, Marvel’s The Mighty Thor.  Thor issues forth like a real life comic book hero.

Willi Morrison, John Shand, Ian Guenther, “Military Matters,” Pondfield Music, Inc./Ample Parking Publishing (ASCAP) (1978).  From Thor, Keep the Dogs Away, Midsong Records, Manufactured and Distributed by MCA, MCA 2337 (1978).  Album Design – John Williamson, Leslie Smart & Associates; Photography – Normands Berzins.

Rickie Lee Jones


, , ,

The cover of her first album is calculated to make her look tough.  Velvet hat, disheveled long blond hair, she is looking not at the camera, her eyes are hidden, looking downward or inward, smoking a brown papered cigarette.

On her debut album, the prestige of the musicians recruited to back up this neophyte is almost unbelievable.  The names I recognize: Andy Newmark drums, Randy Newman synthesizer, Tom Scott horn, Ernie Watts horn, and bunches of others just as great.  But she is in complete command.

She sings about street corners, and poolhalls, and pinball machines, and she has a song called “Easy Money” that makes you think of “Small Change.”  We thought of her as a secret cousin of Tom Waits when we first heard these grooves.  You can’t really pick up all the words because she kind of slurs and blurs them together.  But the poetry is amazing, even though sometimes you only catch it when you read the lyrics on the sleeve notes.  The sharp slap of her guitar; her voice sailing up up how many octaves.  She glides from jazz to soul and whoops from blues to folk and then she hits you with a showstopping Broadway blaster on the order of “Soliloquy” from Carousel.

She sings her flexuous melodies in raspy whispers, indolent banter, melismatic caterwauls, and melodious purity.  She peoples her songs with characters named Zero, Dutch, Bragger, Cecil, Junior Lee, Kid Sinister, Cunt-finger Louie, Bird, and, of course, Chuck E – the world in which she wanders is not safe.  Her persona is infused with midnight gigs in stinky bars and 24-hour diners and blinking neon through motel windows.

Right now I am listening to “The Last Chance Texaco.”  It is a dreamy waltz.  The scene is late night on a lonely highway, a broken down car stranded at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.  The song’s images transmute into a tale of a person too broken down, too hurt, to love.

It’s your last chance
To check under the hood
Last chance
She ain’t soundin’ too good,
Your last chance
To trust the man with the star
You’ve found the last chance Texaco

The quiet strumming of her guitar.  The exploding crescendos that fade away.  She half speaks the song and the words seem improvised.  She slides around the beat and emits mewling whines, like the Doppler screams of cars flying by in the night.

But this one ain’t fuel-injected
Her plug’s disconnected
She gets scared and she stalls
She just needs a man, that’s all

She sounds rough and drunk and passionate and disappointed and sardonic, her gangrel tunes echoing in alleys.  Then she wails like she’s on stage at the Apollo, and her voice is so sweet and passionate and all the guile and irony melts away.

Rickie Lee Jones, “The Last Chance Texaco,” Easy Money Music (ASCAP) (1978).  From: Rickie Lee Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, Warner Brothers Records, BSK 3296 (1979).  Album design – Not credited.

Red Clay Ramblers


, , ,

This is flavored bluegrass, incorporating little tastes of ragtime, blues, and the Holy Modal Rounders thrown in for fun.  Most notably, a muted trumpet adds its doleful Cab Callaway sound.  Furious fiddling, bedizened banjoing, gallivanting guitaring, mellifluous mandolining, canorous keyboarding, and fulsome four-part harmonizing.

This song “Merchant’s Lunch” tells a purportedly true story about a horrifying eatery in Tennessee.  The lead singer’s story is punctuated by comical responses by the background chorus, to which I would apply the term, “suggestion and elaboration.”

I took a walk (he was walkin’ up and down Broadway)
I was hungry (had an eye out for a swell cafe)
I was searchin’ (he was soundin’ for a bite to munch)
I found a spot (he took a table at the Merchants Lunch)
Oh the Merchant’s Lunch, it was an ocean of gloom
It looked like half past midnight in the afternoon

The upshot of the story is that our hero is assaulted by Broadway Brenda, a grisly obese hoyden with green teeth, dishpan hands, and “Krakatoan hips,” who informs him, “It’s the custom here at Merchants Lunch to entertain the queen.”  He instantly absquatulates, bounds into his rig, and roars away at 80 miles an hour, never to return.

(He’s a driving fool) the interstate belongs to me
But I’m never going back (into the state of Tennessee)

Along with all its other influences, this song incorporates country swing, drawing on the happy sounds of Bob Wills.  The vocal harmonies on this album are perfect, but differ dramatically from the resonant acapellas of someone like Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.  The Ramblers are more old timey, more nasal, more floating, more irreverent, piercing through and sailing out over all the exuberant picking, strumming, blowing, and bowing.

Mike Craver, C.W. Thompson, “Merchant’s Lunch,”  Flying Fish Music (BMI) (1977).  From Red Clay Ramblers, Merchant’s Lunch, Flying Fish Records, FF055 (1977).  Album design – Chris Baker; Photography – Cece Conway.

Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine


, , , ,

Incredible jamming with twelve string guitar and six string classical guitar, machine gun arpeggios, surprising changes of key, a pastiche of rhythms and time signatures, beautiful slightly out-of-key melodies, jangling noisy chords, adroit counterpoint, seamless shifts from the bluesy to the jazzy to the out-a-here, lubricious leaps up and down the neck, each musician doing the work of four, the first cut on the album, “Ms. Julie,” a triumphant welcome to everything you would expect from unparalleled virtuosity.

Larry Coryell and Philip Catherine, Twin House, Electra Records, 6E-123 ((1977).  Album design – not credited.

Elvis Costello


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

So back in ‘77 Louie the Mad Vinyl Junkie gives me a copy of this weird album called A Bunch of Stiff Records.  It’s an anthology of several British rockers and one of them is this odd guy with glasses named Elvis Costello who does a fantastic song called “Less Than Zero.”  I’m the first to broadcast Elvis in this area, maybe in the U.S., maybe almost anywhere.  Pretty soon I’m hunting up singles like “Radio Sweetheart,” “Alison,” and “Red Shoes,” and his first album arrives like the grail many of us rock’n’rollers have been questing for years.

And then in December 1977 we gathered around the TV box to watch him on Saturday Night Live, and there he was, playing the opening chords to “Less Than Zero,” and suddenly he stopped the band, said “Radio Radio,” and launched right into it, and we couldn’t believe it, what an incredible song, and it smacked the whole morbid music industry right in the kisser, just like we always hoped somebody would do, and it got him banished from U.S. television for years thereafter.  It was as important as when Pete Seeger sang “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” on the Smothers Brothers Show ten years earlier.

In the ensuing years it became apparent that Elvis was not merely a great progenitor of punk, a reviver of real rock’n’roll, a grouchy icon of the new music – he was all that, but even the wicked mountebanks of the music industry came to realize he was also one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived.  In the history of popular music his name will be listed along with Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Rogers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Billy Strayhorn, and Duke Ellington.  He’s that great a songwriter.

There was the time Linda and I went to see Elvis in Rochester.  What a great show, and afterwards, as we were making our way to the exit, a member of the stage crew came up and handed Linda a backstage pass.  Cool!  Maybe we can talk to Elvis.  We followed the crew guy to the stage entrance and he turned around and said, wait a minute, pointing to me, he can’t go with you.  Well he’s my husband, said Linda.  Well forget it, he said, and he stalked off to find another cutie for the King’s pleasure.

I flash back to the first time Elvis came to Buffalo and did the song I’m listening to now, “Watching the Detectives.”  The show was at Buffalo State College, in a small restaurant-style room, and Elvis walks right out off the stage and on to the tables, and he crosses the tables until he comes to mine, and he reaches his hand to – Me!  I hand him my pen.  Re throws it down.  My cup. He slaps it away.  My hand.  He pulls me up on the table.  Help!  I’m trying to decide what to do.  I put my hands into the back pockets of my Wranglers, and stare him in the eyes, and wiggle my skinny ass back and forth to the rhythms of the song, as he sings, “It only took my little fingers to blow you away!”  HELP!!!

Elvis Costello, “Watching the Detectives,” Street Music Co. (1977).  From Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “Watching the Detectives/Blame it on Caine/Mystery Dance” (45 rpm EP), Stiff Records, Ltd., Buy 20 (1977).  Sleeve design – not credited.

Bongo Joe


, , , ,

I hate to be the one to tell you, but you have not lived until you have heard Bongo Joe.  Allow me to give you birth.  He’s a street musician and I wonder where he’s gone.  In 1969, some loony brain let him put out an inimitable album on Arhoolie Records.  He played in various Gulf Coast cities in Texas, most recently, as of the time of this record, in front of the Alamo in San Antonio.

His real name is George Coleman and he plays, as the album liner notes say, “a 55 gallon oil drum shaped with a hand ax in a curious series of dents, bulges, cuts and wrinkles.”  His drum sticks are fabricated from hammer handles, small cans rattling with stones and B-B shot, and rubber chair leg caps.  This is not a tuneful ringing calypso steel drum.  The furious complex unremitting rhythms he hammers and clatters out resonate deep in the metal hull of his instrument.

His stories are bitter, whimsical, mocking, sermonic.  “You’d better cool it, and do it right,” he admonishes.  “If you don’t do it right, you’ll end up in a fight.”  He shares a knowing kinship with the lonely stray dogs in his fables.  They squeak, “Arsh, arsh, arsh.”  Listen to the first song on the record.  “I Wish I Could Sing” he intones, he chants, he whines, he hums, he squawks, he grumbles, he squeals, he barks, he shouts, he yawps, he whistles, he warbles, ah!  He sings!

George Coleman, “Cool It,” Tradition Music Co., (BMI) (1968); “Innocent Little Doggy,” Tradition Music Co., (BMI) (1968).  From:  George Coleman, Bongo Joe, Arhoolie Records, #1040 (1969).  Album Design – Wayne Pope; Photography – Chris Strachwitz.

Thanks to Jump Jump Records in Portland for having this album just when I needed it!

Roy Wood


, , , ,

Roy Wood’s Wizzo Band was never released in this Country.  My friend Louie the Mad Vinyl Junkie, gave it to me.  He and I are fanatical admirers of Roy Wood and his old group, The Move.  This is incredibly challenging music, big band rock with horns, keyboards, gigantic drums, a million guitars, and Roy Wood.  There is every kind of music hidden in here: that huge deep metal bass sound created by The Move, those licks from classical composers, jazz interludes on the horns, and even some country swing.  These are not songs, they are compositions.

It is tempting to call Roy Wood the British Frank Zappa when talking to people who never heard of him.  They are both unrestrained unsurpassed geniuses of rock composition.  But Roy lacks Zappa’s bitterness and is, of course, never nasty.  It may be that Roy long ago achieved that teenybop appeal that Zappa deliberately ridiculed and renounced.  Roy has been to the top of the AM Top 40 commercial world.  There is a story that during the middle sixties, The Move threatened to break up if their next single did not reach number one on the charts.  Such a stunt would be inconceivable in this country.  Roy Wood seems to say “I’ll do what I want to do, I know I’m a genius.”  Zappa seems to say “Fuck you, I know I’m a genius but if you want potty music I’ll give you genius potty music.”

The vocals on this song from Wizzo – “Waitin’ At This Door” – are as complex as anything dished out by the Swingle Singers, the improvisation is hot as Maynard Fergusson, the rhythms as varied as Debussy, the musicianship equal to any on the planet.  The production is odd, very thick and cluttered, but this is all the Roy Wood Sound, almost like they’re playing at one end of a long tunnel.  He says Dig this, I dare ya.

Roy Wood’s Wizzo Band, Super Active Wizzo, Warner Brothers Records, K56388 (1977).  Album Design – Smart Art; Cover Art – Dave Field; Photography – Martin Elliot, Annie Haslam, Mike Ottley.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers


, , , , , ,

I have a large collection of rock’n’roll buttons.  My favorite says “Make Jonathan Richman an important part of your life.”  He is too.  How can I explain songs like “Abdul and Cleopatra” or “Ice Cream Man”?  He is absolutely silly and corny.  He will never be understood by those who forget that stadium concerts with flashpots and speaker towers and security guards all have their origins in garages and basements.  Those without a sense of humor will never see through his timid twanging of simple Chuck Berry riffs.  Moreover, he has written some of the greatest children’s songs of all time.

His strange sentimental gentle rock’n’roll show at Buff State around 1978 will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to attend.  He played in a small hall or large classroom and kept telling the sound guy to turn down the sound, finally telling him, sweetly, to just turn the whole PA off.  As I recall, the drummer played only a snare and a tiny peddle drum.

Jonathan Richman’s importance to the history of rock’n’roll cannot be minimized.  His incredible song “Roadrunner” on the Beserkley Chartbusters compilation album was one of the four harbingers of punk in 1976, along with the first album by the Ramones, the first Dictators album, and the great compilation, A Bunch of Stiff Records, from England, which gave us the first taste of new sounds by Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, Motorhead, Dave Edmunds, Graham Parker, and Nick Lowe.

At the moment, I am listening to Jonathan Richman performing “Pablo Picasso,” a song at once is sly, humorous, and, like so much of his music, childlike.

The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers, “Home of the Hits” Records, BZ 0050 (1976).  Album Design – Not credited.



, , ,

Listen to this is a prancing song in 5/4 time called “Saturday” by a British group named Decameron.

When they close up the market
and all the stalls come down
and the young men in their pickups
come in from all the country round
and they wind down the windows
and shout things at the girls
just because it’s Saturday.

This is a magic song in the middle of a forgotten album buried in the budget bins of the import section of a store that was going out of business.  Anyone who reads Giovanni Boccaccio (who lived from 1313 to 1375 and who wrote the 100 little tales compiled as The Decameron) can’t be anything but great.

Dik Cadbury and Dave Bell, “Saturday,” Scorpio Music (1975).  From: Decameron, Third Light, Transatlantic Records, TRA 304 (1975).  Art Direction – Philip Warr; Design – Pat Elliott Shircore; Photography – Keith Morris and Tony Evans.

Fela Kuti


, , , , ,

Listening to Fela Kuti, a.k.a. Fela Ransome Kuti, a.k.a. Fela Anikulapo Kuti.  My mind wanders through the record store.  I don’t see why we don’t file this in the dance bins with the breakbeat, house, and trance records, but you will never find it anywhere but the whirled music bins.

Fela wants you to dance.  And he offers endlessly repeated syncopated patterns and vamps, taken right out of those thumpy funky bumpy beats that Fela heard when he visited America in 1969 and over which he honks and serenades with his sax, and the reverbed trumpet humms and stumbles, and the electronic piano bobbles and bubbles, and Fela sings and growls and cries and if you understood the pidgin of his words you would know that he is dancing blowing strumming beating and singing truth against power.  “Let’s start what we have come into the room to do!”

Fela Ransome Kuti.  Vol. 1 & 2.  M.I. L. Multi Media LLC/Esperanto, Esp 8502 (1995, 1996).  Album Design – Not Credited.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five


, , , , ,

“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – the most wrathful grieving song ever.  The refrain is an anthem that people will chant as long as they sing “The Star Spangled Banner”:

I’m close
the edge
to lose
my head
Uh huh ha ha ha
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

This is poetry whose imagery and argument rival Allen Ginsberg or Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  In the words, amped up by the backbeat of the rhythm loop and Grandmaster’s scratching, you FEEL the feelings of the dangerous streetlife and downtrodden hope and smoldering rage.

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice

In this song you are dragged through horrific scenes of squalid dwellings, broken human beings, bill collectors, bag ladies, fragile health, the human trash bin of prison, petty murder, and that powerless heartbreak of the parent who cannot find a way to protect their child from the rottenness of the world.  And, even more bitter, the poet contemplates how each child “is born with no state of mind, Blind to the ways of mankind,” only to be smacked down by this second rate life.  And the rapping is all kinda slow, so you don’t miss a single detail.

The song ends with an ironic humorous little skit in which Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, jamming on a street corner, are busted by the cops.  And what is The Message?  The rapper seems to be a sensitive and gentle guy.  And yet every person, every hope, every need in the song is crushed.  There is no redemption, there is no escape, there is no reprieve.

If you had to look for hope, and you’d have to be a liar to do so, you would take the words, “It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under,” as a sign that the narrator has not yet “gone under.”  But so what?  He is a poet.  He perfectly understands and expresses his own desperation amidst the devastation in which he lives.  This is the same futile lucidity that was awakened in those lonely beaten souls just before they were herded into the gas chambers.

E. Fletcher, M. Glover, S. Robinson, & J. Chase, “The Message,” Sugar Hill Music Publ. Ltd. (BMI) (1982).  From: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Message, Sugar Hill Records, SH 268 (1982).  Album Design – AQ Graphics, Inc.; Photography – Hemu Aggarwal.

Judas Priest


, , , , ,

Judas Priest is on a mission to conquer, to engage in unfettered revelry, to never suffer defeat, to destroy the enemy, to defend the faith, to guard against evil, to march forth with a mighty army, to murder the challengers, to behead the power mad freaks, and, at every opportunity, to ride scorchingly fast vehicles, have raging sex, and inflict the kind of hurt that feels really good.

I have no idea what Judas Priest is fighting against, who the enemy is, what they are advocating, or what happens if they win.  But their music is incredibly exciting and the musicianship is fantastic.  The lead guitar duo of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing grab you by the hair, Rob Halford’s operatic singing hits you in the head, and you have to be dead not to punch the sky and charge out wanting to conquer something – even if you’re not sure what – just because you know you can do it – after hearing their music.

Take this great anthem, “Rock Hard Ride Free.”  After a long guitar duo introduction, the song leaps into a fierce call for defiance.  We are being exhorted to exert ourselves without compromise:  “Gotta get a reaction / Push for all that you’re worth.”  And someone is trying to stop us, but we will triumph:

No denying
We’re going against the grain
So defiant
But they’ll never put us down

And to the jubilant thundering chorus – “Rock hard, ride free / All day, all night” – punctuated by screeching that must have blown out Halford’s eyeballs – “Rock hard, ride free / All your life” – we roar forth on molten wheels, invincible, undaunted.  It doesn’t matter that we don’t have a clue who “they” are who were trying to put us down.  They can’t escape us!

The band’s name is of noble origin, being borrowed from Bob Dylan’s song “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.”  Independent of the Dylan aspect, the band’s name has a clearly Christian connotation, but, unlike a lot of earlier metal bands, I find nothing religious about any of their songs.

Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford, K.K. Downing.  “Rock Hard Ride Free.”  April Music Inc., Crewglen Ltd., Ebonytree Ltd., Geargate Ltd. (ASCAP), 1984.  From Judas Priest.  Defenders of the Faith.  CBS Records, FC 39219.  1984.  Cover design:  Doug Johnson.

Lapiro de Mbanga


, , , ,

Lapiro de Mbanga from Cameroon.  Frantic desperate as if he is trying to get every note out before it’s too late.  Guitar arpeggios spilling forth like marbles on a drum skin, and drum skins slapped like the snap of a string.  He sings like there is no other choice, if he didn’t sing he would explode.

And do you know why?  He had to!  He had to be as quick to scold as he was to sing.  Because he sang truth to power.  Cardinals, imams, and especially Grand Pablo, his name for Paul Biya, president of Cameroon since 1982 – no enemy of democracy escaped Lapiro’s lashings.   And for his truth, Grand Pablo and a kangaroo court buried him in prison for three years.  Listen!  Dance!  Rare is the courage that drives a musician to pay such a price for his art!

Lapiro de Mbanga.  Ndinga Man Contre-Attaque: Na Wou Go Pay?  Label Bleu/Indigo, LBLC 2506 (1992).  Artistic Direction – Frank Tenaille; Graphic Design – Jacques LeClercq-K.

Patrik Fitzgerald


, , , ,

Acoustic guitar, no drums, no bass, no electricity, no amps, no chords, no broken eardrums.  Pure punk.  In my experience, Patrik Fitzgerald, was the first punk folk singer.  And this is surely one of the first punk ballads:

I don’t love you for your tattered tie
I don’t love you, and I don’t know why
I just love you for that
Beat – beat – beat – beat – beating
I’ve got a safety pin stuck in my heart
For you, for you.

The messages of his songs are melancholy, bitter, and true.  He seems to sing glaring from the corner of a bare room.  My copy of his first record is autographed with the strange inscription, “There was a man from Okinawa . . . . .”

Patrik Fitzgerald, “Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart,” No publisher (1977).  From Patrik Fitzgerald, Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart, 45 rpm E.P., Small Wonder Records, Small Four (1977).  Art – Final Solution.