The look of love
Having proved once and for all that Tiny Tim was not responsible for the Hindenburg tragedy, I’d like to explore his adolescent years and early success as an adult. Limited as I am by your computer, I will be forced to convey this with words and pictures, and without my shadow puppets and ice sculpture gardens – an unfortunate task, yes, but not insurmountable.
Tiny Tim dabbled in a few musical instruments before finally focusing on the ukulele, after failing to perceive the sarcasm of a pretty girl who told him:
“Oh yeah, ukuleles are totally the sexiest instrument. I would date any guy who played one.” This high school crush of Tiny Tim’s would, if true, grow up to be none other than America’s sweetheart, Sylvia Plath, famous for her girl-next-door beauty and charm, her sparkling wit, and culinary skill with an oven. (Rumor has it she wrote books as well, though this is probably just factual.) While Tiny Tim never managed to secure a date with Plath, the two would grow to become lifelong people, and continue living on the same planet for the remainder of their lives – sometimes close enough to call each other on the telephone whenever they wanted. (It’s an eerie coincidence that Plath would go on to give birth to two children, Frieda and Nicolas, and Tiny Tim was himself born a child.)
I had the pleasure of asking Ms. Plath herself what her favorite Tiny Tim song was (thanks to my trusty Ouija Board), to which she replied:
“You edge the cake like lines along my eyes. My blacks coil into a frosting, and taste like honey, lilacs crushed, and Crisco.”
…By which I assume she means this:
Tiny Tim’s trademark falsetto brought him new fans. It also attracted a host of stray dogs to the Greenwich Village venues where he performed, which club owners were quick to capitalize on. “They have more money than those goddamn poets,” said one business owner.
Tiny Tim began recording songs under his stage name John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison Pete Best, which he soon changed to the “jazzier” John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison Ringo Starr, though he quickly dropped this moniker once The Beatles achieved notoriety, despite the Fab Four’s willingness to change their individual names to Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, Barbara Martin and Diana Ross.
Throughout the 1960’s, Tiny Tim would have guest spots in both films and TV, some of them popular (like his appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In or his wedding to Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show) and some mostly forgotten (like his portrayal of Hermione, Queen of Sicilia in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale). Whether charmed or confounded, audience members couldn’t help but smile when faced with Tiny Tim’s unabashed, almost aggressively innocent sweetness – a welcome respite in a culture consumed by reports of war, both at home and across the street at their dull but well-meaning neighbor’s house.
In the next part of this tribute to Tiny Tim, we’ll cover the event of his death. Big fun!
Last week, we ended with songs that inspired Tiny Tim. This week we’ll take a look at songs and artists that have little or nothing to do with him whatsoever. Enjoy!