Bob Lind & Moondog

On the face of it you might not think much connects these too.

One was a 1960s folk singer songwriter whose deceptively subversive tunes got the fabulous Jack Nitzsche production treatment and who later faded from pop view.

The other was blind from early in life who taught himself music and dressed as a Viking to busk on 6th Avenue in New York and whose music has influenced some of the most important composers of the late 20th century (Reich, Nyman, others).

But a while back I was playing ‘Counting’ on the show and something about it made me think of Moondog.

The arrangements are not very alike.

One is a waltz and builds on a bed of thrumming acoustic guitar and an insistent triangle/chime assisted by glorious strings.

The other is in wrongfooting 5/4 time (or is it 10/8?) and builds on a simple drum pattern with throbbing sawed violins before the onset of marvellous brass and reed conjunctions.

It’s as if ‘Counting’ lives in the pop music world but has an eye on the underground while ‘Theme’ lives in the underground music world but has an eye on a hook.

I think the relationship I'm hearing might be the way each tune plays between major and minor.

Neither tune seems to be able to choose one. They both flit between the two unsure of their ground. Or maybe sure of their ground but not wishing to be pinned down to one only.

They are both unshowy but insinuating tunes that can hold you in a spell.

I wonder if Bob Lind ever took a walk down 6th Avenue in New York in the early 60s and heard something that found its way into his songs.

It’s an intriguing thought.


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