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Moondog, The Viking of 6th Avenue: The Authorized Biography

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"Moondog is one of America’s great originals."—Alan Rich, New York Magazine Here is one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century: a blind and homeless man who became the most famous eccentric in New York and who, with enormous diligence, rose to prominence as an internationally respected music presence. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in 1916, Moondog first made an imp "Moondog is one of America’s great originals."—Alan Rich, New York Magazine Here is one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century: a blind and homeless man who became the most famous eccentric in New York and who, with enormous diligence, rose to prominence as an internationally respected music presence. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in 1916, Moondog first made an impression in the late 1940s when he became a mascot of The New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. His unique, melodic compositions were released on the Prestige jazz label. In the late 1960s the Viking-garbed Moondog was a pop music sensation on Columbia Records. Moondog is the noted inspiration for the contemporary freak folk movement led by Devendra Banhart. Moondog's compositional style influenced his former roommate, Philip Glass, whose Preface and performances of Moondog works appear in the book. Moondog's work transcends labels and redefines the distinction between popular and high culture. A CD compilation with a variety of Moondog's compositions is bound into the book. The CD tracklisting is as follows: 1: Caribea (1:32) Performer/Composer: Moondog 2: To a Sea Horse (1:43) Performer/Composer: Moondog 3: Trees Against the Sky (.51) Performer/Composer: Moondog 4: Oo Debut (1:09) Performer/Composer: Moondog 5: Autumn (2:07) Performer/Composer: Moondog 6: Moondog Monologue (8:24) Performer/Composer: Moondog 7: Moondog’s Theme (1:53) Performer/Composer: Moondog 8: Trimbas in Quarters (1:47) Performer/Composer: Moondog 9: I Came Into This World Alone (1:19) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 10: Be a Hobo (1:22) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 11: Why Spend the Dark Night With You (1:40) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 12: All is Loneliness (1:38) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 13: Organ Rounds (2:04) Performer/Composer: Moondog 14: Canon in F Major, Book I (.43) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 15: Canon in B Flat Major, Book III (1:36) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 16: Canon in B Flat Major, Book I (.43) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 17: Canon in B Flat Major, Book II (.28) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 18: Canon in G Sharp Minor, Book I (.44) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 19: Canon in C Sharp Minor, Book II (1:32) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 20: 5/4 Snakebite Rattle (3:41) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 21: Trimbas and Woodblock in 5/2 (1:26) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 22: When I Am Deep in Sleep (2:17) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 23: Rabbit Hop (2:25) Performer/Composer: Moondog 24: Dog Trot (2:25) Performer/Composer: Moondog 25: Bird’s Lament (2:00) Performer/Composer: Moondog 26: Viking 1 (2:55) Performer/Composer: Moondog 27: Heimdall Fanfare (3:06) Performer/Composer: Moondog 28: Intro and Overtone Continuum (2:22) Performer/Composer: Moondog


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"Moondog is one of America’s great originals."—Alan Rich, New York Magazine Here is one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century: a blind and homeless man who became the most famous eccentric in New York and who, with enormous diligence, rose to prominence as an internationally respected music presence. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in 1916, Moondog first made an imp "Moondog is one of America’s great originals."—Alan Rich, New York Magazine Here is one of the most improbable lives of the twentieth century: a blind and homeless man who became the most famous eccentric in New York and who, with enormous diligence, rose to prominence as an internationally respected music presence. Born Louis Thomas Hardin in 1916, Moondog first made an impression in the late 1940s when he became a mascot of The New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. His unique, melodic compositions were released on the Prestige jazz label. In the late 1960s the Viking-garbed Moondog was a pop music sensation on Columbia Records. Moondog is the noted inspiration for the contemporary freak folk movement led by Devendra Banhart. Moondog's compositional style influenced his former roommate, Philip Glass, whose Preface and performances of Moondog works appear in the book. Moondog's work transcends labels and redefines the distinction between popular and high culture. A CD compilation with a variety of Moondog's compositions is bound into the book. The CD tracklisting is as follows: 1: Caribea (1:32) Performer/Composer: Moondog 2: To a Sea Horse (1:43) Performer/Composer: Moondog 3: Trees Against the Sky (.51) Performer/Composer: Moondog 4: Oo Debut (1:09) Performer/Composer: Moondog 5: Autumn (2:07) Performer/Composer: Moondog 6: Moondog Monologue (8:24) Performer/Composer: Moondog 7: Moondog’s Theme (1:53) Performer/Composer: Moondog 8: Trimbas in Quarters (1:47) Performer/Composer: Moondog 9: I Came Into This World Alone (1:19) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 10: Be a Hobo (1:22) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 11: Why Spend the Dark Night With You (1:40) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 12: All is Loneliness (1:38) Performers: Moondog, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Jon Gibson Composer: Moondog 13: Organ Rounds (2:04) Performer/Composer: Moondog 14: Canon in F Major, Book I (.43) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 15: Canon in B Flat Major, Book III (1:36) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 16: Canon in B Flat Major, Book I (.43) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 17: Canon in B Flat Major, Book II (.28) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 18: Canon in G Sharp Minor, Book I (.44) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 19: Canon in C Sharp Minor, Book II (1:32) Performer: Paul Jordan Composer: Moondog 20: 5/4 Snakebite Rattle (3:41) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 21: Trimbas and Woodblock in 5/2 (1:26) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 22: When I Am Deep in Sleep (2:17) Performer: Stefan Lakatos Composer: Moondog 23: Rabbit Hop (2:25) Performer/Composer: Moondog 24: Dog Trot (2:25) Performer/Composer: Moondog 25: Bird’s Lament (2:00) Performer/Composer: Moondog 26: Viking 1 (2:55) Performer/Composer: Moondog 27: Heimdall Fanfare (3:06) Performer/Composer: Moondog 28: Intro and Overtone Continuum (2:22) Performer/Composer: Moondog

30 review for Moondog, The Viking of 6th Avenue: The Authorized Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Throughout my whole life I have heard of, or was aware of Moondog, but oddly enough I didn't listen to his music till a year ago. My family had the first Moondog album - and it is perhaps one of the first records that I was aware of - nevertheless I avoided him I think mostly because the way he looked. And he was old! So, about a year ago, I began to play his music, and it was a "oh wow" moment for me. Now, I can't get enough of him, and I'm still surprised in finding his music so fresh sounding Throughout my whole life I have heard of, or was aware of Moondog, but oddly enough I didn't listen to his music till a year ago. My family had the first Moondog album - and it is perhaps one of the first records that I was aware of - nevertheless I avoided him I think mostly because the way he looked. And he was old! So, about a year ago, I began to play his music, and it was a "oh wow" moment for me. Now, I can't get enough of him, and I'm still surprised in finding his music so fresh sounding as well as having beautiful melodies. And of course I hear the Philip Glass essence in his work, due that Glass lived with Moondog in the 1960s. Also Robert Wyatt now comes to mind as well. Moondog is surely a major influence on a lot of contemporary music artists. Which is not surprising, because his music is so inviting. Author Robert Scotto is truly a fan of Moondog, and it shows through his writing. Which is good, but often I feel I'm reading a fan-boy's love of his subject matter - and no distance. Sometimes the distance is a good thing, especially in writing a biography. Nevertheless a whole book on Moondog is a superb thing to have and read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    I confess I learned about Moondog via a utoob accident. Frankly I think this minimal movement in music became a horse skeleton already probably even before the Velvets did their Heroin. Nevertheless, one still finds oneself occasionally charmed. I remember last time I tried to watch Koyaanisqatsi I felt like Alex being reprogrammed at the end of Clockwork Orange. When I first saw it I was literally bolted to my seat in fascination. It's a one=shot deal. But not only is Moondog a (dead) composer o I confess I learned about Moondog via a utoob accident. Frankly I think this minimal movement in music became a horse skeleton already probably even before the Velvets did their Heroin. Nevertheless, one still finds oneself occasionally charmed. I remember last time I tried to watch Koyaanisqatsi I felt like Alex being reprogrammed at the end of Clockwork Orange. When I first saw it I was literally bolted to my seat in fascination. It's a one=shot deal. But not only is Moondog a (dead) composer of minimalist music, he was also known as "the Viking of 6th Avenue". I'd paste a photo here, but there's already too much jpg and gif action on gr and also it'd take an extra effort to download/upload/link=up/ETC, so I'll just wiki=link you here so you can catch sight of his countenance. Or just look at that bookcover? Pretty cool :: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moondog er, right :: google-image is better for countenance catching :: https://www.google.com/search?q=moond... And here's a play list thing from utoob for your work=a=day enjoymeant :: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK0yv... Seems I miss=understood where that link’d take you. Here’s the straightfoward Moondog=utoob=search=results, which is plenty of this stuff :: https://www.youtube.com/results?searc...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Man I love Moondog and it's so great to see the ascendancy of his work amongst young listeners thanks to the great Honest Jons comp. from the other year and that sweet grey area reissue of the 'Snaketime' record and etc. Lots of great, thorough scholarship went into this book. It's not super well written but at least it's not OVER written unlike so many music books. That makes certain clunky passages or repetitious ones a lot less bothersome to me. The accompanying CD -- which features the debut r Man I love Moondog and it's so great to see the ascendancy of his work amongst young listeners thanks to the great Honest Jons comp. from the other year and that sweet grey area reissue of the 'Snaketime' record and etc. Lots of great, thorough scholarship went into this book. It's not super well written but at least it's not OVER written unlike so many music books. That makes certain clunky passages or repetitious ones a lot less bothersome to me. The accompanying CD -- which features the debut release (I think!) of Moondog's amazing music played by a group featuring Steve Reich and Philip Glass -- is worth getting this thing for alone. Here's a bit of an interview I did with him ages ago FYI: http://www.moondogscorner.de/press/pe...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe Immormino

    That such an interesting life could be the subject of such a tedious, numbing tome is a feat in and of itself. A testament to the author's committment to pretentious prose.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Moondog was a fascinating musician and person. Blinded at 16 by an accidental explosion, he moved from Wyoming(?) to New York City in the late 1940s. Moondog lived on the streets or in hotels for the most part, performing his music for anyone who would hear with instruments of his own making. He made his own clothes, started dressing as a viking, and moved to Europe in the 1970s to be closer to his roots. Moondog made several albums and influenced many artists. This book is an authorized biograp Moondog was a fascinating musician and person. Blinded at 16 by an accidental explosion, he moved from Wyoming(?) to New York City in the late 1940s. Moondog lived on the streets or in hotels for the most part, performing his music for anyone who would hear with instruments of his own making. He made his own clothes, started dressing as a viking, and moved to Europe in the 1970s to be closer to his roots. Moondog made several albums and influenced many artists. This book is an authorized biography that seemed random enough times to notice as the author mixes and matches spoken as well as written quotes throughout the book from a huge amount of sources. The book could have done without the author's psychological evaluations of his subject. One small example is that he mentions Moondog loses trust in the world when he learned at 10 that Santa Claus was not real. Wow, very insightful and necessary. Because the author had collected so much information on Moondog, the resulting biography is stuffed full with quotes and minute details that don't all jive together and break the flow of the story. Anyway, it's still probably written better than this review. HA! The book comes with a CD of some Moondog ditties and collaborations, which is a huge plus. I have yet to hear it, so it is yet to be seen with me if Moondog is revered only because of his personality and circumstances or because he was actually gifted and influential. It's probably a mixture of both. All in all, this book did pique my interest in his works.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tom Shannon, Jr

    Moondog (aka Louis Hardin, American, 1916 - 1999) was a highly unusual blind artist (street musician, accomplished prolific composer, and eccentric cult personality.) I'm glad I got this book by Scotto, who knew Moondog since the 1960's and interviewed him. It's informative and a fine addition to my arcane music library. I wanted this book because some of Moondog's records are fantastic & catchy, and stand the test of time, so I had to learn more about him. Some of his other records are mere Moondog (aka Louis Hardin, American, 1916 - 1999) was a highly unusual blind artist (street musician, accomplished prolific composer, and eccentric cult personality.) I'm glad I got this book by Scotto, who knew Moondog since the 1960's and interviewed him. It's informative and a fine addition to my arcane music library. I wanted this book because some of Moondog's records are fantastic & catchy, and stand the test of time, so I had to learn more about him. Some of his other records are mere poetic weirdness that I don't get, or gratuitous artsy exercises in weird time signatures that are not my cup of tea. So I kind of expected this to be a mixed bag, information-wise, and I hoped that the writing would hold my interest. I'm glad to soak up all the great information organized in chronological order (his upbringing, tragedies, personal/family life, life on NYC streets and living in a cave upstate, brushes with celebrities, philosophy and study of Norse mythology, lawsuits, creative process of both braille composition and instrument-making, travels across America and to Europe, etc.) Much of the info was welcome news to me. Unfortunately the author doesn't know how to write a biography! He meanders and generalizes a lot, includes unnecessary information and speculation, and sometimes left me a little confused, or questioning what his facts were based on. As a result, I never felt quite engaged in this book. After reading this book, I listened to a wonderful 2006 pre-publication interview with the author via WFMU podcast. What a dynamic, engaging communicator he is! I would never guess this to be true based on his writing. There are appendices in the back covering Moondog's discography, his weird perpetual calendars and poems. There are some black and white pictures but not enough. For example many references are made to Moondog's pamphlets, yearbooks and other publications, but while reading descriptions of what they look like, I found myself wondering, "Why couldn't a picture of even one publication been included?" There's an index at the end but I'm disappointed to say it's incomplete. There are memorable references in the book to Janis Joplin & Big Brother and the Holding Company, and references to pieces on Moondog in People Magazine and a piece by Johan Kugelberg in Ugly Things Magazine, but I can't tell you what pages they are on, because they are absent from the index. A bibliography would be a nice addition. This softcover book comes with a nice CD in a flexible plastic sleeve affixed inside the rear binding. If the disc is in its sleeve in the back cover, then the back cover is prevented from flexing at all by the right hand. When trying to break the seal on the sleeve to remove the CD for the first time, I cracked the rear binding slightly -- ugh. Even with the disc removed from its sleeve, the rear cover doesn't flex as easily as the front cover, because the plastic sleeve is more rigid than the heavy cardstock book jacket which is right next to it. This edition isn't easy to read, and is irritating. In summary, if you're a Moondog fan, you will certainly find some value in this, but it's not a fun read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This book was a slog to finish, and I really wanted to love it because I like the subject so much. As much as I appreciate the meticulous research and detail that went into this labor of love, the author never quite manages to bring Moondog to life. His treatment of the man's itinerant childhood years felt the most developed and effective, but once Moondog moves to NYC, the author never convincingly evokes his subject. Instead much of the text rambles in repetition of facts, especially recording This book was a slog to finish, and I really wanted to love it because I like the subject so much. As much as I appreciate the meticulous research and detail that went into this labor of love, the author never quite manages to bring Moondog to life. His treatment of the man's itinerant childhood years felt the most developed and effective, but once Moondog moves to NYC, the author never convincingly evokes his subject. Instead much of the text rambles in repetition of facts, especially recording dates and geographical position within the city or in retreat, but the characterization of his subject, and indeed of the supporting players in Moondog's life, falls flat. He captures Moondog's preoccupations but doesn't seem able to step inside his subject's head outside of a rare insight. Perhaps that it's an authorized biography inhibited the author's presentation, but that doesn't explain his turgid prose. Hopefully the upcoming documentary on the Viking of Sixth Avenue tackles some of these issues a little better.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    I can't remember the first time I heard Moondog, but, as with Robert Wyatt's post-"Soft Machine" output, I was blown away by how varied the guy's music was, and how impossible to categorize it was. This book does a good job balancing details about Moondog's s personal life with his unorthodox theories of music, which have been admired and appropriated by everyone from minimalist maestro Philip Glass to hip-hop producers. The author neither glosses over nor gets bogged down in the details of Moon I can't remember the first time I heard Moondog, but, as with Robert Wyatt's post-"Soft Machine" output, I was blown away by how varied the guy's music was, and how impossible to categorize it was. This book does a good job balancing details about Moondog's s personal life with his unorthodox theories of music, which have been admired and appropriated by everyone from minimalist maestro Philip Glass to hip-hop producers. The author neither glosses over nor gets bogged down in the details of Moondog's controversial political beliefs, the contradictions in his Nordic/Aryan philosophy contrasted against his friendships with people from many races and walks of life. Kudos also need to go to Scotto for avoiding the easy temptation to reduce Moondog to a curiosity, a fancifully clad homeless oddity who walked the streets of NYC, rather than a serious musician who never let his disability cripple his creativity (again, like Robert Wyatt). Recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Giles

    Too bad that such a weak story teller tackled such a mysterious subject. i'm really interested to know about moondog's life, but can't get myself to pick the book up again. the author goes on all these digressions about what it must have been like for moondog growing up that are truly vacuous. oh well

  10. 4 out of 5

    Forest Juziuk

    The writing is a touch flowery & the book is a bit of a slog with some peculiar movements between spans of time. Interesting nonetheless, a remarkable if somewhat difficult document.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Craig B

    This nearly ended up in the bath with me after 50 or so pages. Great CD - although there are better Moondog collections/releases on offer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucky

    Super interesting. CD included. really great!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stevenson

    Inspiring tale of one man's determination to make his music count for something. From blind street musician to one of the 20th century's most inspiring composers. Fantastic - plus a free CD!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gunnar Hjalmarsson

    Pretty good, but too dry and academic for my taste.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Utrillo Kushner

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dantanian

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Margie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josée Gd

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Chaffin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Cohen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  29. 5 out of 5

    James

  30. 4 out of 5

    sheena ward

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