After Captain Beefheart, could there be any musical figure more influential, eccentric, strange and innovative? Louis Thomas Hardin, aka the Viking figure who for years until his death in 1999 silently stalked New York's 6th Avenue, is a strong contender. Often seen between 52nd and 55th Streets, and blind since the age of 16, he regularly wore cloak and a horned helmet, sometimes busking or selling music, and was generally regarded as a homeless hobo, but in fact had an apartment in the area, and had a long musical career since the early 1950s, producing extraordinary sounds, experimental jazz and avant garde structures, and some based on classical forms which have influenced and been covered by many artists, from Steve Reich to Philip Glass, Pentangle to Prefab Sprout to Antony and the Johnsons.
He even invented new instruments, such as the a small triangular-shaped harp known as the "oo", another called the "ooo-ya-tsu", and a bowed triangular stringed instrument, the "hüs", and the "trimba", a triangular percussion instrument. Our two sample songs are an instrumental from his 1969 Moondog album, which was later remixed by Mr Scruff, and his Monologue, which show off some wonderfully profound poetry as well as his innovation with sound. And another connection with Beefheart? Here, the moon, of course, from Vermont to the lines: "Nothing lasts, is my refrain, As the moon and my feelings wax and wane."
"No matter where i came from," I say,
"No matter where i go
To me, what matters is where I am on this day."
Let me identify myself now
Songsters both, and both clad in brown
The hermit thrush and i dwell far out of town.
Death, when you come to me, may you come to me swiftly
I would rather not linger
Driving with Herr Doktor one day, for the air,
He would circle the square before he taught me how to square the very same circle.
You were opportunist in the worst way
Therefore, I pray, let it pay for you to know me.
I do not dress as i do to attract attention
I attract attention because i dress as i do.
You, the vandal, plunder the village as you will.
The earthworm will pillage you, the vandal, when you are under.
I would bow down before just one –
One who bows before none.
I should know who that one might be who could do that to me
I am that one
And i bow down before me.
Since the hunter is the hunted, surely he knows what it is to lift an ecstatic dread
To some uncoming hunter's tread.
Such and such as the star that filters through the starry blue alone
A burning star turning in an orbit all of its own
Such and such as I.
Beasts were always trailblazing engineers
Modern engineering would do well to do as well today
As well as beasts have done.
If on this rock I stand alone
loneliness will turn heel, as he turns to stone.
Each today is yesterday's tomorrow, which is now
Now is all I have
Now is all I need
Now is all i want
Better I go, when you would that i stay, that I stay on,
Than stay, when you would that I would go
Better I go than stay.
Ebb and flow of the ocean
Love and hate of emotion
Nothing lasts, is my refrain
As the moon and my feelings wax and wane
I remain calm.
I would adjust everything until I fell
And will adjust nothing
Then, worming up pathway, i found with pleasure:
I was just something.
Standing at the door of my departure
I observe that your eyes belie all that you have said
For you are still in love with me.
Then, when recognition comes,
You will take my muse,
Take her to his bed of ease
Have his will, have his fill,
And strangle her.
My tiny butterfly butters my bread
My briny flutterby keeps me well-fed
Why should I mutter?
Stung by this last rebuff, i rebound.
On the way back, i hear me saying to myself:
"Swell in your shell".
One thing about life, be it said:
It feeds upon itself over and over
And of itself, is fed.
Should I love you as i love myself?
Suppose I hate myself.
I would be as free to hate you too
I am never quite educated, never quite so
but i am ever in the painful process of becoming so
You remember me and my song.
Only such immortality strikes creative sparks from my soul
Because of you.
Who could wear out their welcome there
When there is no welcome there to wear out?
"There is where it is: here on earth."
"I would advise you not to generalise, as a rule."
(A fool to be: i have just uttered a generalisation.
Down is up, and so up is down
Because the world is round
There is no such thing as up or down.
This one wish is ever so near to my heart
but oh so far away from my tongue.
Sadness was so mixed with gladness
That she wept for joy
She was so sad
Tears filled her eyes but enhanced a smile on her face
She was so glad.
Think of all of the thoughts that I think
They are naught to me, compared to just one fleeting thought of you.
How could I fear for my last day,
When I am dying daily?
And have been since my first day?
Thus the clown wore cap and gown
For she lived for degrees while she died by degrees,
With a frown.
Voices of spring were in chorus
Each voice was singing a song
I could not sing me a chorus until I wrote me a song
I wrote my song and joined the throng
I besiege my liege still further
For my wooing is turning her majesty's royal head
And turning toward me
Though I climbed up the highest mountain in view
– yet, contentment was not mine,
For beyond, a higher mountain still higher was looming.
Now is that painful moment of parting we dreaded,
Saying "goodbye" is plural indemnity, truly,
For having said "hello".
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