bronwynbishop on 07/22/2013 at 10:45AM
"Poems urgently needed to set to music! Write clever poems, catchy rhymes. Achieve fame, money in popular music field!" screamed the advertisement in the March 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics. Aspiring songwriters all over the country sent their lyrics and varying sums of money to the New York address at the end of the ad, lured in by the promise that their words would be turned into stellar songs which would be sent to radio stations and record executives- but as it turned out, the music was thrown together in minutes by bored studio musicians, and the songs would be left to languish in obscurity. This was the modus operandi of the song poem industry, a scam which started at the turn of the 20th century and has lurked at the fringes of the music world ever since.
Many song poems have become cult classics, including "Virgin Child of the Universe", "Jimmy Carter Says Yes" and "Green Fingernails". The singers and songwriters who recorded them have gained infamy as well, such as Ramsey Kearney, singer and composer of the infamous "Blind Man's Penis (Peace and Love)". But one man is revered over all others by song poem aficionados. Troubled genius, acid casualty, known as "the Mozart of Song Poems"- Rodd Keith. His weird and wonderful recordings have been compiled in the releases I Died Today, Ecstasy to Frenzy, and Saucers in the Sky. Now Happy Puppy Records has put together a new collection of Rodd's best, from the private archives of collector Bob Purse. This collection includes such gems as "Country Boy," which showcases Rodd's attempt at a Southern twang, the Muzak-esque "Before I Go Out," and the syrupy "If I Had A Million Dollars" (not to be confused with the Barenaked Ladies song, or the Eminem song).