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Love is WeirdDaniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston — Love is Weird
A beautiful and direct song about the bizarre nature of love, by one of the most underrated artists to exist. Johnston has been diagnosed with manic depression and shizophrenia, both of which have been recurring problems throughout his life; nevertheless he’s managed to have a lengthy career (and still performs live, actually) that inspired many artists (notably Kurt Cobain, who often wore a now famous Daniel Johnston shirt), and whose poignant, stripped down, honest songs have been covered from Beck to Tom Waits.
My buddy Eldon Thorndike just finished recording an album called Scripture Adventures. This is the first track from that album, entitled “Scripture Adventure #1.”
Jean Dubuffet: “Prospère, Prolifère”
From the album Expériences Musicales de Jean Dubuffet
Best known as a visual artist whose bold, childlike images are among the most striking and identifiable works of the mid-twentieth century, the French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) was also one of the most fascinating outsider musicians of recent times. His musical output consists solely of a number of recordings made in 1960-61 with the Danish painter Asger Jorn, after which Dubuffet abandoned music in order to devote himself fully to visual art.
Dubuffet’s music was composed through a process of edited improvisation: first he played freely on a number of instruments, both conventional and otherwise, then he listened to the recordings and removed the parts that he found unsatisfactory. Like Pierre Schaeffer, for whom the concept of musique concrète referred less to the nature of the sounds employed than to the starting point of “concrete” sound material which was “composed” only after it had been captured on tape, Dubuffet declares that “all written music is a false music,” and replaces the inscription of musical notation with that of the recording mechanism: “It is impossible to write true music except with a stylus on wax.”
I believe that our western music is an avatar among all the possibilities that were offered to music. Now, by an optical error, one imagines that this is the only music possible, while, in reality, it is only a very specious music among millions of possibilities that were available and, without doubt, will be available tomorrow… In my music I wanted to place myself in the position of a man of fifty thousand years ago, a man who ignores everything about western music and invents a music for himself without any reference, without any discipline, without anything that would prevent him from expressing himself freely and for his own good pleasure.
Jean Dubuffet: Virtual Virtue (1963)
Dubuffet makes a provocative distinction between two kinds of music, both of which he attempts to capture by turns in his own work: first, there is the “music we make,” a kind of “permanent music” expressive of basic human moods and actions and derived from the sonorous environment of everyday life. Second, there is the “music we hear,” a music “completely foreign to us and our natural tendencies,” which “could lead us to hear (or imagine) sounds which would be produced by the elements themselves, independent of human intervention”:
[These sounds] would be as strange as what we might hear if we were to put our ear to some opening leading to a world other than our own or if we were to suddenly develop a new form of hearing with which we would become aware of a strange tumult that our senses had been unable to pick up and which might come from elements which were supposedly involved in silent action, such as humus decomposing, grass growing or minerals undergoing transformation.
Whatever the nature of his musical material, Dubuffet finds himself drawn to “composite sounds which appear to be formed by a great number of voices calling to mind distant murmurs, communities, hustle and bustle and hives of activity.” He seeks a “music without variations, not structured according to a particular system but unchanging, almost formless, as though the pieces had no beginning and no end but were simply extracts taken haphazardly from a ceaseless and ever-flowing score.”
The title of this album, Expériences Musicales, could be translated either as “Musical Experiences” or “Musical Experiments.” Along with a 1971 record of Dubuffet’s music entitled Musique Brut, it can be downloaded from the ever-resourceful UbuWeb.
Dubuffet in his musical studio
“Dog Trot” by Moondog
Louis Hardin, AKA Moondog, made some craaaaazy records back when he was the Viking of 6th Avenue—a curiosity, an Outsider patching together his art from whatever scraps he could find, recording dogs barking and trains rattling under the streets. He invented his own instruments from bits and pieces and played beautifully. Years later he’d earned himself an audience and could afford to hire professional orchestras for his recording sessions, but he never lost the creativity that had helped him get by for all those years. Many artists turn boring when they get old and respectable, but Moondog just got better. That’s the virtue of doing things the hard way: If you learn to do more with less, imagine how much you can do with more.
Steal Softly Thru SnowCaptain Beefheart & the Magic Band
“Steal Softly Thru Snow” - Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica
Because who the fuck doesn’t like Captain Beefheart?
Philosophy of the WorldThe Shaggs
Music You May Not Know #2:
The Philosophy Of The World - The Shaggs
Where do you begin with this “band”?
These girls never even wanted to form a band, but were forced into it by their father. Who had never let them listen to music in their lives. This is what music sounds like when you’re kept away from the world. This is what it sounds like when you have to invent music from scratch. Ridiculed in its day, the album was re-released in the early 1980s thanks largely to the efforts of members of the band NRBQ and widely praised. Frank Zappa referred to them as “better than the Beatles” and Kurt Cobain listed it regularly as one of his favorite albums. Basically, this is child abuse at its finest.