"Thomas J. Guygax Sr., late of Springfield, Missouri, is credited as lyricist of 10 known song-poem recordings, all cut either by MSR Records or their subsidiary label, Songuild, and each a standout for its broken-field appropriation of accepted English syntax. While poetic license is always conceded to the artist, Guygax consistently goes one better by seeming to ignore the meanings of words altogether or, at least, the order that gives them meaning."
- Phil Milstein, American Song-Poem Music Archives
In case you've managed to avoid song-poems up to now, these creations set lyrics submitted by everyday citizens to music written and recorded by in-house song mill hacks who could plow through an alarming number of tunes in the space of an afternoon. Each budding lyricist would pay good money to hear their own feeble or heroic musings on an actual vinyl record which could of course become an enormous incredible worldwide hit. Or so the ads in Popular Mechanics, Modern Romance and Sensational Detective Tru-Crime Cases claimed.
Rodd Keith (aka Rod Rogers, Ron Davis, John Dough, Lindon Bridges...) is the acknowledged auteur of the song-poem scene, making songs out of the words, then producing himself performing his own arrangements of them for MSR and a handful of similar labels in the Los Angeles area, throwing himself into the endeavor with great passion and imagination more often than not. A termite Brian Wilson at his beloved Chamberlin, he layers its wobbly proto-Mellotron blurs into a very personal wall of sound, delivering the customers' lyrics in a loopy adenoidal croon that makes you believe every word. Armed with prodigious amounts of stimulants and psychedelics, Keith could dive into backwards universes like Tahiti and emerge with crazy alchemies that verge on genius.
Even when less committed song sharks are running the show, you've still got Aunt Gert's oddball lyrics to puzzle over, like Let's Lay It On The Line or Lady Off Pedestal At Notre Dame. Then there's Thomas J. Guygax, represented here by During Evening and Yonder.
"Although by the also,
To have differed with yearly and all known dearly
Throughout and among, we use preferred
By the also of having choicefully."
- At The Time
If only we could follow the late wordsmith through a typical day, as he made a bank deposit, asked his wife for a favorite sandwich, told the dog to get off the couch.
Interested parties should check out WFMU, where mp3s from Phil Milstein's deactivated song-poem archive are available once again. The ASPMA site is still a great resource for insightful commentary, discographies, even the words to ten more Guygax song-poems, including unanthologized ones like Yearly Secure, A Pet Pigeon, Paradise Pudding and Shellbager.
Further info on all songs and performers are included in download. Enjoy.
rodd keith & friends
house of japan
01 House Of Japan 3.29
02 Cool It, Baby 2.52
03 There Was A Time Ago 2.18
04 Gloria 2.23
05 Sawdust 2.38
06 Hot Pants And Leather Boots That Shine 2.24
07 During Evening 2.03
08 She Knows How To Do The Doo De Doo 2.10
09 Dot 2.44
10 Boppin' In Flip Flops 2.05
11 Merry-Go-Down 3.10
12 Big Weekend 2.55
13 Unspeakable Love 3.18
14 Get Down And Wiggle It A Little 2.12
15 Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Potassium 3.02
16 Mary's Launderette 2.42
17 Whisper To Me 2.28
18 Oh That Zipper! 1.52
19 Reseda 3.34
20 Adventure 2.52
21 Lady Off Pedestal At Notre Dame 2.16
22 Let's Lay It On The Line 2.26
23 We Are The Men Counting Sheep 2.07
24 Darling, Don't Put Your Hands On Me 1.47
25 The Pink, Pink Lady Of Malibu 2.41
26 Stars Love 2.08
27 Keep Those Hopes Up 2.22
28 Lucky Vegas Gamblin' Man 2.16
29 Yonder 2.26
30 Tahiti 2.52
31 The Ballad Of Juan Rio 2.47
"Not everyone is against you. Not completely."
- Keep Those Hopes Up