moondog quote combined 2

The D train was my transport to other worlds and Moondog was part of my growing up as I began taking those subway rides into the Emerald City in my teens. He was one of the curiosities of the streets, always present and accepted, part of the cast of characters that regularly inhabited the eclectic neighborhood that was New York City. But it seems there was more to this story…

From the NY Times Archive:

From the late 1940s to the early ’70s Moondog was as recognizable in the New York City landscape as the Empire State Building, and nearly as striking. A tall blind man with long hair and beard, wearing a handmade Viking helmet and primitive cloak, he regularly stationed himself at Sixth Avenue and 54th Street, which cops and cabbies knew as Moondog’s Corner. Dispensing his poetry, politics, sheet music and recordings (some on boutique labels, some on majors), he was sought out over the years by beats, hippies and foreign tourists, but also by the media and celebrities, from Walter Winchell and “Today” to Marlon Brando, Muhammad Ali and Martin Scorsese.

…Moondog was so prolific and eclectic. Working in Braille, often composing under his cloak on the sidewalk, he wrote in an impressively wide range of styles: percussion-driven exotica (he made his own triangular drum-and-cymbal instrument, the trimba), avant-garde jazz, folkish madrigals, Bach-like neo-Baroque rounds and canons for chamber orchestra, symphonies for full orchestra, and a layered minimalism that influenced his young collaborators Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

He released more than a dozen recordings, and his music was used in films and television commercials. His songs were sung by Janis Joplin (on “Big Brother & the Holding Company”) and Julie Andrews (a children’s album); he once shared a bill in a Greenwich Village club with Tiny Tim and Lenny Bruce, and much later performed on a festival stage in London at the invitation of Elvis Costello.

More here

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