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Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

Crazy Music

April 18, 2014 | by

Skip Spence’s “music from the other side.”

skip spence

Skip Spence is known for his work in Moby Grape, a seminal psych-rock outfit, and for his only solo album, Oar (1969), which has one of the most gloriously unhinged creation myths in the history of popular music.

In ’68, Spence—who would be, coincidentally, sixty-eight today—was cutting a new Moby Grape record in New York. The city was not bringing out the best in him. One night, as his bandmate Peter Lewis tells it, Spence “took off with some black witch” who “fed him full of acid”: not your garden-variety LSD, mind you, but a powerful variant that supposedly induced a three-day fantasia of hallucinations and cognitive haymaking. The result? “He thought he was the Antichrist.”

Spence strolled over to the Albert Hotel, at Eleventh and University, where he held a fire ax to the doorman’s head; from there, he negotiated his way to a bandmate’s room and took his ax to the door. The place was empty. So he hailed a cab—you know, with an ax—and zipped uptown to the CBS Building, where, on the fifty-second floor, he was at last wrestled to the ground and arrested. He did a six-month stint in Bellevue, where he was deemed schizophrenic. “They shot him full of Thorazine for six months,” Lewis said. “They just take you out of the game.”

But Spence wasn’t out of the game. The same day they released him from Bellevue, he bought a motorcycle, a fucking Harley, and cruised straight on to Nashville, where he planned to record a series of new songs he’d written in the hospital. He was clad, legend maintains, only in pajamas. Read More »

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The Day I Met Hillbilly Jim

January 13, 2011 | by

Part four of a five-part story. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

A young Josh meets Hillbilly.

Hillbilly Jim lumbers into the studio wearing sunglasses.

I am on time this time. Early, even. Because I’ve been briefed I say, “Hi Mr. Morris. I’m Josh.”

His hand engulfs mine, pumps up and down. He is massive. Six-foot-seven, broad shouldered, and suspiciously orange.

“Howdy,” he says. “Good to meetcha.”

I am meeting Hillbilly Jim. This is real. I have note cards to tell me which questions I’m supposed to ask. They are stacked up in my hand, which is sweating profusely.

Hillbilly Jim has lost his shirt and is now clothed simply in denim overalls. He sits in a folding chair in front of me. There are lights all around, heat slapping us from a hundred directions, illuminating our faces, Hillbilly’s unnaturally tan, mine ghost white beneath all the makeup.

Action!

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