A single day after I documented some progress with my musical hobby endeavors, a new e-mail floated in. Discerning and fact-retentive readers of this weblog will recall that last Christmas I mailed to many and sundry
the musical CD, "Gurdonark's Unfortunate Awfully Kazoo Christmas". I was gratified by the kind words people tolerantly wrote me about this "lowest fi" endeavor, much of which involves me playing those holiday classics old enough to be safely in the public domain through a kazoo poked down a piece of PVC pipe. For the life of me, I can't remember why I thought "Red River Valley" was a holiday song.
As I retained dozens of the things, even after I distributed dozens, I did a little house-clearing by posting a group on eBay. I have a vanity, you see, that I am good at selling novelty items on eBay, having successfully moved everything from a substantial run of books of bad poetry about chess to a 25 cent yard sale candy dish from the 60s with an odd Japanese panorama, which I labeled "new tacky traditional", and a buyer snapped up with alacrity, picture unseen. The kazoo Christmas CD joined the eBay auction hall of fame--surprisingly proving much more easy to move than my "serious" ambient prairie album.
One of these Christmas CDs went, by coincidence, to a kazoo music activist. This fellow, who goes by the super-heroic handle of Captain Kazoo, wrote me to let me know that the latest issue of Kazooz Nooz, the Official
Webzine of Captain Kazooz Kazoo Museum, has just named "Gurdonark's Unfortunate Awfully Kazoo Christmas" the "Kazooz Best of the Best for 2005".
I'm very pleased to get this recognition, as it's fun to get awards. I wish there was a trophy, but I'm happy with a "shout out". I intend to figure out some way to get the album posted on the internet, so that all may enjoy.
I won't be barraging holiday CDs this year, I don't think, but I have in the back of my mind to do instead a mid-winter thing to share. This time, though, I'm going to trust the printed word, which has never let me down.
I think my eBay ad copy served as strong promotion for my album's eventual nomination and award, just as major movie studios use promotional ads to ensure that Hollywood stars get their Oscar nods. It runs as follows:
A Man, a Kazoo, a Quavery Voice, and Good Will to All
In Christmas 2004, Gurdonark faced a dilemma. He had numerous friends and weblog friends, scattered all across the world. He wished to share with his friends something very individual, and rather memorable. He could share his poetry, but he wanted a tangible thing, a thing one could hold and mangle and love.
Although it is perhaps not the vogue to be inodinately fond of Christmas anymore, except perhaps as an interior decoration setting, Gurdonark had and retains a fundamental belief that if a season of giving could be instilled in us all, 12 months a year,
we would have a better world.
Reminded of the legend of the little drummer boy, who, lacking any gift, played a song for the new-born Jesus, Gurdonark determined to give the gift of music.
It might be argued that few people are less qualified to render carols into a permanent form than Gurdonark. It's not that Gurdonark lacked any musical background. No, that's not it at all. It would have been far better if Gurdonark *had* lacked musical background.
Gurdonark had a prior musical release--but it was very odd. He and his friend and producer Scott M had recorded "Vibrating electric fields", a compilation of songs based on eclectuc use of electric football fields, kazoos, bottles filled with ball bearings, guitar, and a baritone ukelele. It's true that "Robot Breakfast" climbed to number 4 on the daily soundclick.com noise sub-chart. But it was hardly Christmas music. It was more from that unique traditon, "odd" music.
Even to this day, Gurdonark's repertoire lacks that certain jovial Christmas spirit. His latest CD, a free download called "Eerie Exchange Prairie Park", features synthesizers putting forward a kind of ambient music that seems to revolve from light repeated melodies to dark ambient mixes of intense complexity. You can hear it, in its entirety, at:
Go ahead. It's free to hear or to download. Nothing for sale there. It's even charted a couple of songs in the soundclick.com daily charts. Enjoy this album not only as a sampler for purposes of this ad, but as an early holiday gift from Gurdonark
Yet it's hardly Christmas music. It's instead weird electronic music. Less discerning people might imagine it's merely melodic noise.
Yet back in Xmas 2004, Gurdonark had a song in his heart. Not just one song, for that matter--Gurdonark had 30 songs. He also had a kazoo, a didjiridoo made out of PVC pipe, various home-made percussion devices,
and good will for all people.
Out of such abundant cheer, what could result but musical madness? What resulted, in fact, is called
Gurdonark's Unfortunate Awfully Kazoo Christmas.
It is unfortunate.
It is awful. It is filled with kazoo play.
It is Christmas-y. The perfect title!
Recorded in fundamentally one take, on a GE 3-5027 prsonal portable recorder and cassette player, Gurdonark sings, plays kazoo, plays didge, and generally decks the halls of 30 of the oddest, most sincere and lovably awful
Christmas songs known to personkind.
The CD begins with that classic "Silent Night", rendered on a kazoo, and then moves on to an offbeat excerpt from Jean Sibelius' "Finlandia". Along the way are all the public domain classics, from "Joy to the World" to "We Three Kings" to a rather out-of-place "Red River Valley". Gurdonark even added original compositions such as "Christmas in Arkansas", "Good Night, Good Cheer", and "Christmas Family Party".
The entire affair is done with good humour and a kind of odd reverence for the songs. The joke, so to speak, is by and on Gurdonark. But the songs remain classics, even when rendered on a flat kazoo. The ideal album for people who love Christmas, as well as for people whose favorite
Christmas song is Sparks' "Thank God it's not Christmas".
Yes, midway through, Gurdonark sings, though you wish he wouldn't. Yes, dozens of this CD were mailed world-wide to friends and readers, who grokked the fullness of his holiday vision. Yes, this auction is to deal with the fact that Gurdonark had dozens more copies printed than he actually needed.
Curiously, Gurdonark's singing career did not end with this collection of good cheer. His song, the "Feeder Guppy Rescue League", is featured on Amoeba Goo Radio, www.gooradio.com on the July 28, 2005 issue. Look for the issue with the guppies on the cover, wade through a lot of solid and rockin' rock, and you can hear just how flat one man can be while singing exuberantly about guppies.
On auction here is simple holiday cheer.
Gurdonark's Unfortunate Awfully Kazoo Christmas
is now available to the eBay public!
The CD is presented simply. It's got the songs printed on it, with one of those fancy processes, and the legend "kids, to try this at home!". It's presented in a mini-jewel case without inserts, so that it is CD and case alone. It's stark, it's silver and it's pure Christmas. It's those odd board games your relatives sent you because they didn't know you at all.
It's far too early for Christmas shopping, but do you have novelty gift persons on your list? People you'd like to share something with, but not something too serious or expensive?
You've come to the right place. Give the gift of Gurdonark!
Go to www.absurdmusic.info, to see what you're getting into. Of course, it sounds nothing like the Christmas album, but it will at least prepare you for the shock in some indirect way, like Benjamin Franklin flying kites in
Weather Channel weather.
Then bid here. Bidding starts at ninety nine cents! It would start lower, but eBay says "gotta be 99 cents or more for a Dutch auction". So 99 cents it is.
Shipping and handling for this CD is 2.50 in the US. I love to send Christmas cheer world-wide, and will be happy to get an inexpensive quote for foreign shipping. Canadians are, as always, particularly welcome, and may actually understand the madness here.
A merry holiday to all, whatever holidays you celebrate, and to all a good morning.