Bloody Beautiful, Issue No. 2
What follows is an excerpt from an interview with Kristian Hoffman appearing in Bloody Beautiful Issue #2. In this excerpt Kristian talks about Tiny Tim:
KRISTIAN: As for Tiny Tim, I've always been obsessed with him, first as a child who, like others of my generation, found him "kooky." We'd been prepared by the Beatles nonspecific "Old Tyme" dabblings (i.e. "When I'm 64") to be open to musical genre hopping, and Tiny Tim (along with far lesser lights like the Sopwith Camel and the New Vaudeville Band) seemed a tasty morsel of same. But as my contextual awareness grew his first LP ("God Bless ...") took on a near mystic significance. What astounding confluence of unrelated cultural anomalies would take someone who, in any other era, would be perceived as little better than a sideshow freak, and place him in a partnership with people of such power and affluence (Warner/Reprise) and skill (Richard Perry) that his peculiar vision could be realized in a production so lavish and caring that in my mind it truly is the OTHER Sgt. Pepper. Every song is similarly humorous, touching, ridiculous, and beautiful; the album is similarly planned as a journey, albeit with the greater pathos of a trek through Tiny Tim's wonderland as the Elephant Man of his time -- the superficial "other" with a naked human yearning made MORE intense by his awareness of that status. Thus his reading of "This Is All I Ask" is as heartrendingly avocative in its way as "A Day in the Life."
That's what inspired me to correlate Mr. Tim and Mr. Nomi in that line from "After the Fall": "The freak shall inherit the earth" -- only the outsider can see a culture in the breadth of its magnificence and cruelty. "Sgt. Pepper" and "God Bless" defined my vision of what music could and should be -- daring, contradictory, opulent, raw, crafted, clever, embarrassing, heartfelt. I carry that damage today though all the one-note trends and transient uniforms of tribal identification: the line between the quack and the inventor, between the thrift shop and the transcendence is very fine indeed.
I did indeed meet Tiny Tim. When my '80s rock band The Swinging Madisons had just signed to a new label called Select Records, I somehow convinced the label that the time was right to produce a serious new entry in Mr. Tim's catalogue: a Christmas album. Tiny Tim was at that point being managed by some retired New Jersey police officer (I've got his card somewhere) who somehow had our guileless hero in a form of indentured servitude, playing an interminable circuit of Policeman's Balls, to the guffaws of the potbellied shiftless good ol' boy cops of the era. It think he had Mr. Tim convinced that he was in a state of debt from which he could never hope to recover. They ended up playing a couple of sparsely attended dates in fly-by-night clubs in the as yet ungentrified wastes of Tribeca.
At one of these my manager, label rep and I visited Mr. Tim backstage and I gushed my undying respect, while outlining my grandiose plans for the prospective album -- it didn't seem particularly forward of me, given the obvious slenderness of Mr. Tim's financial prospects. I didn't want the album to have a note of camp -- I wanted it to be a seriously gorgeous vehicle for one of the great voices of our time, with harpsichords, strings, bells, and the Harlem Boys Choir -- whose services my manager had already researched. Tiny gurgled effusive non-sequiturs, while his Snydley Whiplash of a guardian twirled his moustache in seeming assent. But it became apparent that this scam-meister smelled non-existent millions; he thought my offer was only one of many possible from delusioned labels yearning to return Mr. Tim to the TOP! So he planted a column in Variety that he was recording a Tiny Tim Christmas album (with the Harlem Boys Choir!) in hopes of starting a major label bidding war!
Of course so such war was ever declared. I never heard from them again, and when Mr. Tim finally DID record a Christmas album some 15 years later, the intentions were sweet but the execution was mediocre.
In the rest of this interview, Kristian tells tales of other musical luminaries, David McDermott, Klaus Nomi, Sparks, and the New York Dolls. In addition to the KH interview, Issue #2 includes a 10-inch marbelized blue vinyl record with three songs by Al Bowlly, the "British answer to Bing Crosby." It also includes an article on David MacDermott and Peter MacGough. Intrigued? Here is an article about Bloody Beautiful and its creator, Doran Wittelspach.
To order a copy of Issue #2 please send $10 (cash or check drawn on a U.S. bank) to:
B U A Productions
And please mention you read about the magazine at KristianHoffman.com.
Back to home page of the Official Kristian Hoffman website.