The Hip Priest

We here at The Little Black Egg know that no small amount of time has elapsed since our last transmission, and shrug our shoulders regretfully. It isn't always possible for us to provide you with the sort of content that you've come to expect and appreciate from The Little Black Egg. Especially when we're pushing red pencils over manuscripts various and sundry, earning coin in the capacity of "tireless word janitor."

But as promised, we're turning our eye away from musics psychedelic and otherwise, and casting our gaze upon non-musical audio. We here at the Little Black Egg are fans of audio first and foremost (well, behind print, obviously), we've decided to turn our rabid fandom into an instrument of enlightenment and guidance.

Introducing, His Lordship, the One and Only Lord Buckley

Lord Buckley! Born in 1906 and eventually finding his way into showbiz and vaudeville, Lord Buckley made his way to Chicago where he worked in jazz clubs. Later, he moved to New York.

Lord Buckley's schtick was the following—he grew a handlebar moustache and spoke in a British-accented hipster argot. He was sort of a stand up comedian, sort of a spoken word performance artist, but actually neither. Standing in front of a mic, Buckly delievered rapid fire monologues in heightened hipster speak that were, well, hilarious and just sort of unbelieveable. A bit unreal.

Buckley didn’t only grant himself a noble title, he granted it to just about anyone he talked to. He referred to people as lords and ladies, or sometimes “your majesty,” and his patter was exaggeratedly formal. I suppose it’s hard for the squarest of TV hosts to be speak sarcastically to looming, moustachioed fella with the mannered speech of a Victorian butler, even if he did repeatedly break into monologues more befitting a coffeehouse full of Maynard G. Krebs look-alikes than Ed “Hunchyshoulders” Sullivan’s TV show. His monologues are astonishing even today—sure, sometimes they come off corny, but you hafta be impressed by the avalanche of words he lets loose.

Supposedly he was friends with Charlie Parker, although I don't know if that's ever been confirmed. Seems to good to be true, but he doubtless saw Bird play, which still blows my mind. Sarah has a bunch of Charlie Parker live CDs, one of which is like from a rent party or something, and let me tell you, they far exceed the studio stuff as far as I’m concerned. Because if you found yourself onstage with Charlie Parker, and you’re an ambitious young musician, what are you gonna do? You’re going to try and show him up, right? Which was impossible, but if you listen to his playing on some of these records—good lord. It is not of our world. You know, it’s kind of like how Olympic records are often broken when two people are locked close competition, or how the fastest gun in the West has to endlessly defend his title against every brash young gunslinger who rolls into town. Anyway, regardless of the Charlie Parker connection, Buckley was a popular guy even if he never really became a household name.

It's weird watching and listening to his material. His monologues and impressions were devoid of any real threat to the status quo, but weren't "be bop lite" or anything like that. He didn’t condescend or patronize the culture he drew his inspiration from; his goal was not to poke fun of anyone besides himself. Buckley pulled the age-old trick of making his act and message palatable by making himself an object of ridicule. Clever. And of course, there wasn’t much for anyone to make fun of, since Buckley had already done it.

Offstage, Buckley persisted in addressing everyone by their royal titles, and he and his partner “Peaches” walked around their apartment naked, all the time. They received guests naked, and encouraged their guests to strip down as well. Wild parties ensued. Needless to say, Buckley liked to get high, and dabbling with LSD near the end of his life (Groucho did too, but that’s another story for another time).

Although it seems that he was a frequently inebriated womanizer (and massively in debt to his friends), Buckley appears to be remembered fondly by one and all. And while his overwrought persona could obscure his message, for those who listened it was generally one of “We’re all OK, let’s respect each other and be generally groovy” or whatever. He was ahead of his time, as they say.

Hey, Let’s Watch Some TV!

It’s amazing what you can find on youtube, isn’t it? Actually, all I know about Lord Buckley comes from the internet. There’s a biography of him out there, but I think it’s out of print. I think Rhino might have reissued his album, which means it’s probably available for stealing over the internet.

1949: Buckley on TV variety show "Club 7." You get the Louis Armstrong impression he would do at the end of his bit "the Nazz," as well as a brief monologue.

1956: His Lordship with Groucho on You Bet Your Life. It's sort of hard to imagine these two guys in the room together. If you've ever seen any episodes of You Bet Your Life, you know that it isn't a game show so much as an excuse for Groucho to gently insult people on air. It's pretty obvious that Groucho is usually given the lowdown on who the people are in order to work out gags ahead of time. Still, Buckley manages to make Groucho break face, and vice versa.

1959: Lord Buckley on the Ed Sullivan Show, acting as a ventriloquist for four human actors. He leads them through a very weird Amos and Andy sort of thing. I honestly have no idea what the hell to make of this. Maybe he wasn’t so far ahead of the times as all that (or maybe even a little behind them). Draw your own conclusions, and one you do let me know what they are.

1960: Buckley doing "The Nazz" the same year he died. The Nazz stands for the Nazarene, or Jesus. He also had bits on Ghandi, Einstein, and De Sade. You know, the movers and shakers.

Here's an interview with a guy about Buckley. If you’d like to read transcriptions of any of Lord Buckley’s routines, go right ahead. But it’s not really as good as hearing the man himself do them, you know, because Dear Reader, I’m sorry to report that you don’t have his sense of timing. It’s all right, neither do we. I'd imagine recordings of him are out there, somewhere . . .


The Kings of Beograd Rock

Dear Readers,

Sarah and I are going to be in Belgrade for the next couple of days. Besides seeing friends and checking out the Tesla museum, I'm dearly hoping to score some Partibrejkers albums. Maybe they're even playing a gig, god willing.

Anyway, someone with very good taste put together this awesome Partibrejkers karoke video, so all you reading at home can sing along.


The Killer Goes to Hell

A few years ago, Sarah and I traveled around Tennessee and Arkansas. We spent a lot of time in Memphis, driving around and soaking in all the insanely great music and history and food there.

Among the many attractions that Memphis had to offer, one of the most compelling was the fact that you could visit Jerry Lee Lewis’ house. It only cost about $12. Now, keep in mind that the man is still alive, and still lives there. The whole thing sounded pretty compelling. So I asked a friendly bartender about it. It was a Tuesday or something, and the place was nearly empty, and we’d been bullshitting about music for about half an hour before our conversation turned to the Killer. It went something like this:

“Hey, is it worth it to visit Jerry Lee Lewis’ house?”

“Man . . . I went there once. I was a big fan of Jerry Lee . . .” The bartender said, his eyes slightly unfocusing. It was like in a movie—he’d been wiping down a glass, and he slowly just sort of stopped.


“ . . . Well, he was just sitting around in a bathrobe, and it was half open sort of, and . . . I guess it was noon or something, and he was acting all crazy like he was drunk, and kept screaming at his wife to bring him his Kool Aid and fried baloney. We all sort of . . . cowered, I guess. I don’t even know if he saw us. Hell, it was frightnin’ man! Fucking frightnin'.

So I didn’t go. There was a lot to see and not very much time to see it in. I also missed the telephone pole Chris Bell from Big Star crashed into, and I didn’t make the trek to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and we didn’t make it to Al Green’s church . . . but the thing I really wish I’d done was go pay respects to the Killer.

Anyway, in lieu of me having enough time to finish the other posts I had planned, here’s Jerry Lee fucking blowing his audience’s mind. Check him out—amphetamine-fueled, mad professor hair—the crowd rears back if he makes a sudden move. You get the sense that the guy's only a few milligrams away from being dangerous. This is one of the coolest video clips I’ve found on youtube, although I’m not sure what all that gobbledygook is over the image.

Check out those shoes! Where can I get shoes like that? Either way, that piano will never be the same again.

Here he is in the 1970s, still kicking ass. It’s strange to see him on one of these cheesy variety shows of the era. It’s like they accidentally let a yeti into the studio.

KaPOW! That mic down the front of the pants trick? Fucking brilliant, right? Right.

There’s a very cool biography on Jerry Lee called Hellfire, by Nick Tosches. Be warned that it’s a little . . . it’s a little heavy handed, but such an approach sort of suits the subject matter. Lord knows the guy had a ton of demons. Jerry Lee thought that he was going to go to hell, but if that was the case he was going to go there playing the piano, and he was going to take the audience with him. Man, that’s commitment.


And Now, a Word From Our Sponsors

Well, well, well. It's a lovely Friday afternoon here, and we at The Little Black Egg are up to our necks in all kinds of things, stuff like fiction and freelance work and all that crap. So we're going to take a little break, just for a little bit. It's like what's-his-face said: "Words, words, words."

Man, I heard that. Too many words will turn your life to bullshit.

So since I've got nothing to say, here's the Seeds on some TV show. Check out Sky Saxon's amazing cape with moons and whatnot on it. On anyone else a cape like that would look silly, but on Sky Saxon it looks authoritative.

Anyway, when we here at The Little Black Egg return from our sabbatical, we're going to slightly change formats, ever so slightly, so that we let the music alone for a bit and cover other forms of audio. How's that grab you? I'll tell you something: it's gonna be better than you think.

So tune in next week, Dear Reader. Same time, same channel.