Moondog


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Cover of posthumous compilation CD showing Louis Hardin

Birth name Louis Thomas Hardin
Born May 26, 1916(1916-05-26) in Marysville, KS, U.S.
Died September 8, 1999 (aged 83) in Germany
Genre Avant-garde New age Minimalism
Occupation Vocalist Percussionist Composer
Instrument Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
Website http://moondogscorner.de

Moondog was the pseudonym of Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916 – September 8, 1999), a blind American composer, musician, cosmologist, poet, and inventor of several musical instruments. Although these achievements would have been considered extraordinary for any blind person, Moondog further removed himself from society through his decision to make his home on the streets of New York for approximately twenty of the thirty years he spent in the city. Only in the final decades of Moondog's life did the public begin to appreciate the extent of this man's talents, primarily because of his stubborn refusal to wear anything other that his own home-made clothes, all based on his own (sometimes too singular) interpretation of the Norse god Thor. Indeed, he was known for much of his life as 'The Viking of 6th Avenue'. WHICH WAS ONE OF MY MAIN HANGOUTS

Early life
Born in Marysville, Kansas, he started playing a set of drums that he made himself from a cardboard box at the age of five. Hardin was blinded in a farm accident at the age of 16. After learning the principles of music in several schools for blind young men across middle America, he taught himself the skills of ear training and composition. Principally self-taught, he studied with Burnet Tuthill and at the Iowa School for the Blind. He had a particular interest in Native American music.

Street musician
From the late 1940s until 1974, Moondog lived as a street musician and poet in New York City, busking mostly on 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. In addition to his music and poetry, he was also known for the distinctive Viking garb that he wore, which included a horned helmet. He partially supported himself by selling copies of his poetry and his musical philosophy. Because of his street post's proximity to the famed 52nd Street nightclub strip, he was well-known to many jazz musicians and fans.

In the 1960s Moondog was a regular fixture of downtown Manhattan with his outstanding flamboyant costume and presentation. My grandmother and I passed Moondog while we  went  to and from Manhattan to pick up my grandfather at the end of his work day. As Moondog worked numerous corners busking. for the unsuspecting. traveler or tourist, he was one of the characters that made Old New York the un-homogenized creative artistic place it once was.

Where often that Old New York City was characterized as crime ridden, pockmarked by peepshows and gin joints that did not conform to new improved corporate version of Times Square and a downtown gentrified of its working class communities. Where New York City has become new and improved like Los Vegas and all too many other American towns and cities it has lost its soul to give way to profits and exploitation that has made America the fraud it has become for the rich, by the rich, one nation under the rich.

Moondog's work was early championed by Artur Rodzinski, the conductor of New York Philharmonic in the '40s. He released a number of 78s, 45s and EPs of his music in the 1950s, as well as several LPs on a number of notable jazz labels, including an unusual record of stories for children with actress Julie Andrews in 1957. For ten years no new recordings were heard from Moondog until producer James William Guercio took him into the studio to record an album for Columbia Records in 1969. The track "Stamping Ground", with its odd preamble of Moondog saying one of his epigrams[1], was featured on the sampler double album Fill Your Head with Rock (CBS, 1970). The melody from the track "Bird's Lament (In memory of Charlie Parker)" was later sampled by Mr. Scruff as the basis for his song "Get a Move On", which was then used in commercials for the Lincoln Navigator SUV.

A second album produced with Guercio featured Moondog's daughter as a vocalist and contained song compositions in canons and rounds. The album did not make as large an impression in popular music as the first had. The two CBS albums were re-released as a single CD in 1989.
The English pop group Prefab Sprout included the song 'Moondog' on their seminal album Jordan: The Comeback released in 1990 as a tribute to Hardin.

Inventions
In a search for new sounds, Moondog also invented several musical instruments, including a small triangular-shaped harp known as the "Oo", another which he named the "Ooo-ya-tsu", and (perhaps his most well-known) the "Trimba", a triangular percussion instrument that the composer invented in the late 40s. The original Trimba is still played today by Moondog's friend Stefan Lakatos, a Swedish percussionist, to whom Moondog also explained the methods for building such an instrument.

Germany
Moondog had an idealised view of Germany ("The Holy Land with the Holy River" — the Rhine), where he settled in 1974. A young German student named Ilona Goebel hosted him, first in Oer-Erkenschwick, and later on in Münster in Westphalia, Germany, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Moondog visited America briefly in 1989, for a tribute in which Phillip Glass himself asked him to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, at the New Music America Festival in Brooklyn, stimulating a renewed interest in his music.
He recorded many albums, and toured both in the US and in Europe — France, Germany and Sweden.

Early recordings
Singles
"Snaketimes Rhythm" 1949-1950 SMC
"Moondog's Symphony" 1949-1950 SMC
"Organ Rounds" 1949-1950 SMC
"Oboe Rounds" 1949-1950 SMC
"Surf Session" c. 1953 SMC
"Caribea Sextet"/"Oo Debut" 1956 Moondog Records

EPs
Moondog On The Streets Of New York 1953 Decca/Mars
Moondog And His Honking Geese 1955 Moondog Records

LPs
Improvisations At A Jazz Concert 1953 Brunswick
Moondog And His Friends 1953 Epic (reissued as Jazztime USA vol. 2 in 1955 on the Brunswick label, reissued 2006 on Moondog's Corner label)
Moondog 1956 Prestige
More Moondog 1956 Prestige
The Story Of Moondog 1957 Prestige
Tell It Again (with Julie Andrews) 1957 Angel/Capital

Tracks on compilations
New York 19 (edited by Tony Schwarz) 1954 Folkways
Music in the Streets (edited by Tony Schwarz) 1954 Folkways

Later recordings

Singles
'"Stamping Ground Theme" (from the Holland Pop Festival) 1970 CBS

LPs
Moondog (not the same as the 1956 LP) 1969 Columbia
Moondog II 1971 Columbia
Moondog In Europe 1977 Kopf
Moondog - Selected Works 1978 Musical Heritage Society
H'Art Songs 1978 Kopf
A New Sound Of An Old Instrument 1979 Kopf
Bracelli 1986 Kakaphone
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Cassettes
Facets 1981 Managarm
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CDs
Elpmas 1992 Kopf
Moondog + Moondog II 1992 Columbia
Big Band 1995 Trimba
Alphorn Of Plenty 1995 Hat Art
To A Grain Of Rice 1996 Paradise Records
Sax Pax For A Sax with the London Saxophonic (1997) Kopf / Atlantic
Moondog Vol. 1 & 2 2000 Beat Goes On
The German Years 1977-1999 2004 ROOF Music
Un hommage a moondog 2005 trAce label
Bracelli und Moondog 2005 Laska Records
Rare Material 2006 ROOF Music
Tracks on compilations
Fill Your Head With Rock 1970 CBS
The Big Lebowski motion picture soundtrack 1998 Mercury
Fsuk Vol. 3: The Future Sound of the United Kingdom 1998 Fsuk
Miniatures 2 2000 Cherry Red
DJ Kicks 2006 Henrik Schwarz K7 Records
Moondog's music performed by other musicians
Moondog and Suncat Suite (1957) by British Jazz musician Kenny Graham, featuring one side of interpretations of the work of Moondog.
"All Is Loneliness" by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin (1967)
Canons on the Keys by Paul Jordan, 1978 (unreleased)
"Theme and Variations" performed by John Fahey on the album Rain Forests, Oceans, and Other Themes (1985) [1]
"Crescent Moon March" covered as "For You Blue" by Laibach on Let It Be, 1988
Lovechild Plays Moondog 7" on Forced Exposure (1990)
"Synchrony Nr. 2" by Kronos Quartet (1997)
Trees Against The Sky compilation album 1998 SHI-RA-Nui 360
"All Is Loneliness" by Antony and the Johnsons, live (2005)
"Sidewalk Dances" - Joanna MacGregor (2005) Sound Circus SC010
"Moondog Sharp Harp" - Xenia Narati (2006) Ars Musici 1404-2
"Bird's Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker)" was sampled and used extensively on the song "Get a Move On" by the DJ Mr Scruff.

Footnote *** excellent

^ Moondog is heard saying, "Machines were mice and men were lions once upon a time. But now that it's the opposite it's twice upon a time."