Here’s the deal. As it was happening -- nothing happened, and when it happened it wasn’t happening anymore – I have to knock out this note before the day wiggles away. Lately, living has been bent from the front, so next go round I’m pinning this date on my wall, whip it around my prehensile wits; flip the switch that says stick. So done, so be it, now shout yeah! All the what’s and who’s and why’s jump out from everywhere and serenade the guru of gone! Happy Birthday! Belated or not, to the original gasser, the original hipster saint, the most far-out cat that ever stomped on this Sweet Green Sphere, who’s wailin', groovy hipsemantic orations tramped through the wiggage in our graciously affluent playground: the wordland we call the English language! The man, the years, the most flip embodiment of a life lived cool … none other than His Majesty, His Hipness, Lord Buckley! Birthday 102 …and though he found “the theme of the beam of the invisible edge” back in ‘60, they’re still digging his scrabble and his mad heart, looting strange truths from the head, all truths, even the feral truths, scribbling, splattering jive laid down to his bop ... as his Royal Flipness’ once said - “they supersede and carry on beyond the parallel of your practiced credulity.”
Though Lord Buckley is known for his "hip-semantic" interpretation of history, literature, and culture, sporting a waxed mustache, dressed to the nines and expounding on life in the manner befit of British aristocracy, intoned by way of Jazz riffs versed by hemp-headed hepcats, Lord Buckley was actually born in a coal-mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on an Indian reservation in Tuolumne, California, in 1906. Richard Myrle Buckley worked as a lumberjack as a kid and entered the world of showbiz by way of the medicine, carnival, and tent show circuit, eventually gigging in the speakeasies of Chicago during the 1920s, emceeing dance marathons and vaudeville shows, even playing on Broadway during the Depression. By the 1940’s he was working steadily in Jazz clubs, befriending many of the greatest musicians of the era. During the Second World War Buckley toured with the USO Shows and became close friends with, of all people, Ed Sullivan. By the 1950’s the unclassifiable Lord Buckley was cast as a comedian, his humor combined his incredible detailed knowledge of the language and culture; his true hepcat persona became one part stump preacher, one part raconteur, another part grifter and huckster, producing one of the strangest comedic personas ever invented.
I once saw Townes Van Zandt perform when I was seventeen. I had some older friends, the kind of friends that liked to expose art to us younger folks. They took me and my friend Tamala, who was the same age as me, to see a revue done by Peter Case and Victoria Williams at McCabe’s Guitar Shop. All that folky shit was foreign to me, so naturally, I wanted to go to the show. The show was an old fashion folk revue. Each artist did a few songs on their own before coming all together to perform. First up was Victoria Williams, with her southern charm and squeaky voice. Former Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn followed her. I remember thinking Steve Wynn was boring, but that was a few years before I heard The Days Of Wine And Roses, which is one of L.A.’s finest albums and a personal favorite of mine much later in life. Actor Harry Dean Stanton followed and played a few songs, including a haunting version of "Cancion Mixteca," a song from the movie, Paris, Texas. It tripped me out that the actor was singing in Spanish. Of course, a few years later when I actually saw the movie Paris, Texas, I thought that the song, the soundtrack, the movie and Harry Dean Stanton were all brilliant.
After a brief set by Peter Case, everyone started performing songs together. Then Peter Case announced that he had a big surprise. As the rest of the musicians left the stage, he introduced Townes Van Zandt . Townes came on stage with his guitar and a suitcase. He had a show the next night at the same place and the promoters had just picked him up from the airport. I, of course, did not know who he was, but my older friends were about the crap in their pants.
Last night IFC showed it twice and I saw it twice. Too funny. Here are some of my favorite parts, courtesy of Youtube:
I Love Corky: