Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Compare and Contrast: The Genius of Skip Spence (Part II)

Once again, from Oar (his 1969 folie à une solo album), please enjoy Moby Grape's great and tragic Skip Spence and the plaintive mumblecore country waltz "Broken Heart."

If anybody in pop music in the last 50 years had the mark of the poet on him, it was Skippy.

An Olympic super swimmer
Whose belly doesn't flop
A super race car driver
Whose pit it can't be stopped

A honey dripping hipster
Whose bee cannot be bopped
It's better to be rolled in oats
Than from the roll be dropped

Broken heart would satisfy
Broken in a mess
A severed eye would gratify
My soul, I must confess

I'd rather have no eyes at all
Be blind upon the floor
Than to stand upon the receivin' end
Of the right hand of the Lord

He wrote that during a six month stay in Bellevue. Shot full of thorazine, I might add. (Jeebus -- I could go my entire life without ever coming up with a line as good as that honey dripping hipster deal.)

In any case, from 1999, here's the equally great and blessedly not at all tragic Robyn Hitchcock, with his rather more intense back porch solo cover version (from the More Oar tribute album).

I'm not sure which version I prefer, but I do know that the first time I heard Hitchcock's I felt like I'd been poleaxed. He totally gets the song's deadpan surrealist japery, obviously, but also quite a bit more.


steves said...

Sounds like "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" would have if it was written in 1965 instead of '68.

steve simels said...

Note to self: Bizarre obsession with dead hippie wacko less interesting to readers than expected.

Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary said...

I agree with two things:

* Hitchcock's version does make one feel poleaxed.
* Enough with Skip Spence

Rock on, dude!

TMink said...

Not to be too big a brown nose or anything, but "deadpan surrealist japery" works as well as "honey dripping hipster" for me.

And I think I can hear the thorazine in the tempo.


steve simels said...

Hey -- even I'm beginning to worry about the whole Skip Spence thing.

Anonymous said...

Hell, they keep talking about Jesus, and as far as I know he's the only other person reputed to be in the morgue with a "tag on his toe" who got up and walked out.
And Jesus never, to my knowledge, left Bellevue in pajamas on a motorcycle to drive down to Nashville to record an album.
Forgive them Skip. They know not what they do.

Kid Charlemagne said...

That's why I love Robyn. He is all about deadpan surrealist japery.