Saturday, September 12, 2015

Good Things To Do: Listen to Moondog

Why is it good to listen to Moondog?

1. Because he doesn't sound like anyone else. The key to marketing is to say this sounds like that. You need to know where to slot it. But he just made Moondog music, which ranged from contemporary classical to an idiosyncratic take on jazz to the tribal and the otherworldly. If you could slot him anywhere it would be in the great America tradition of weirdo genius outsiders like Sun Ra and Harry Partch. He invented some of his own instruments, like Partch did.

2. Because he named himself for his childhood dog who would howl at the moon.

3. Because in the late 40s and 50s he would stand on 6th Street in NYC dressed up like a Viking. Why? Because when he first showed up in NYC he had a beard and long hair and people always said he looked like Jesus. Not a compliment for Mr. Moondog, who said, Look: "that's enough, I don't want that connection. I must do something about my appearance to make it look un-Christian." Before counter-cultural status was commodified in the 60s it found expression in individuals and small groups of proto-hippies, as with the guy who wrote "Nature Boy," Eden Ahbez.

4. Because he learned drumming from Arapahoes in Wyoming in the 1920s.

5. Because he is really engaging to listen to.

Here's an outstanding article on Moondog.

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