Bad Music Seminars, 2014–15

Bad Music Seminar 2 took place on February 8, 2014, at the Showroom, London, during the event ‘Can You Relate? – A Case of Alienation and Closeness. This event was organised by the Lux Associate Artist Programme, 2011-12, to which I was invited to participate by Heather Phillipson, one of the associate artists. The event was edited by Pieternel Vermoortel.

Christian Marclay–Untitled (The Fart Museum), 1996
Practical Wireless magazine–untitled floppy 7″ single, 1967
Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention–Soft Sell Conclusion, 1967
Lou Christie–Painter, 1966
Robert Wyatt–Signed Curtain, 1971
Adriano Celentano–Prisencolinensinainciusol, 1973
Tony Castor Bunch–King Kong, 1975
Mighty Sparrow–Congo Man, 1964
Mighty Spoiler–Bedbug, 1953
Eddie Noack–Psycho, 1968
Rodd Keith–Beat of the Traps, early 1969
Michael Hurley–I Think I’ll Move, 1980
Gary Wilson–Cindy, 1977
Beck–The Devil Gave Me a Taco, Stereopathetic Soul Manure, 1994
Biz Markee–Just A Friend, 1989
Das FX–The Want FX, 1992
Noh Mercy–Caucasian Guilt, 1979
Mykel Board (with Kimberley Davis)–Art Gets Thrown of the Stage while Playing for the Yippies, 1980
The Deadbeats–Kill the Hippies, 1978
Chain Gang–Son of Sam, 1977
Karen Finley–Sacred Meat, 1987
Bongwater (Ann Magnuson)–Obscene and Pornographic Art, 1990
Dwarves–Fuck You Up and Get High, 1990
Television Personalities–Part-Time Punks, around 1980
Petticoats–Normal, 1980
Freshmen–You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It, 1979


Bad Music Seminar 3 (Sex, Death and Politics) took place at Horse Hospital, London, April 22, 2014, as part of Kitty Finer Presents “Another Night at the Horse Hospital”.


Songs about murderers and serial killers
Kinky Friedman–The Ballad of Charles Whitman
Child Molesters–(I’m The) Hillside Strangler
Chain Gang–Son of Sam
Charles Manson–Gas Chamber

Songs about sex
Luc Ferrari–Les Emois d’Aphrodite
Baby Blue–Fantasy Man
Blowfly–Track 5
Artless–Beer (Is Better Than Girls Are)
Raped–Raped (Pretty Paedophiles 7″)
Laurice–Wild Sugar
The Sensual Listener–Your Lover
Cherry Vanilla and Man Parrish–Electro Sex

Songs about politics
Glenda Collins–It’s Hard To Believe It, 1966
Cerrone–Je Suis Music, 1978
MDC (Millions of Dead Children)–Chickensquawk, 1984
Allen Ginsberg & Het Mondriaan Quartet–September on Jessore Road, 1972

Song Poems
Kay Weaver–A Life of Pain (Mrs. Norris Onell Johnson) Now Sounds of Today CRH-42
John Muir–Circus Clown (Francis X. Menz) Now Sounds of Today CRH-259

Private Press releases and odd records
Lucia Pamela–Walking On The Moon
Gordon Thomas–Barbara
The Space Lady (Susan Dietrich Schneider)–Synthesize Me
Spaced–Flying Thru the Sky (Michigan Meltdown), 1971?
Modds–Leave My House (Pebbles, Vol. 11)
Lucio Battisti–Insieme A Te Sto Bene
Charlotte Leslie–Les Filles C’Est Fait Pour Faire L’Amour
Harry Merry–Pin Up Pup (or Mother Candy Stuff?)
Vinny Roma–Ah, Music


Bad Music Seminar 4 (Song Poems) took place at The Horse Hospital, June 2014
The song-poem industry, now more than 100 years old and continuing strong, has always depended on gullible individuals who can be convinced that their lyrics are exceptional, lyrics that deserve just a little bit more investment to get the process going that will propel their writers to songwriting fame. Give us your lyrics and seed money and our talented musicians and engineers and our industry contacts will work wonders for your song, the song-poem companies would promise. In the 70s, payment was between $200-400, a lot for poorer people. Layaway, where a lot of smaller payments are spread out over time was also an option. Some of the labels involved were Brite Star, Columbine, Chapel, Century 21, Cowtown, Fable, Film City, Five Star, Globe, Hit Records International, Hyperbolic Records, Inner-Glo Records, Nu-Sound, Silver Star, Star-Crest, Star-X…


Gary Roberts & The Satellites–Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood and Brush?
Kay Weaver–Seaman
Ross Keith–My Pipe Yellow Dream
Gene Marshall–Jimmy Carter Says Yes
Luretta McCray–Decisions, Decisions
Norris the Troubadour (Norridge Mayhams)–Back From Vietnam
Charles Vickers–Gift Of Love



Bad Music Seminar 5 (Becoming-Animal) took place at The Horse Hospital, December 19, 2014


Tom Heidlebaugh–Coup Stick Dream (The Laughing Bear)
Elizabeth Waldo–The Serpent And The Eagle
Michael Hurley–Old Black Crow
Michael McClure–Lion Poem (Dial-A-Poem Poets, John Giorno)
Roky Erickson–interview and The Creature With The Atomic Brain
The Corillions (Marlin Wallace)–Abominable Snow Creature
Diagram Brothers–We Are All Animals, 1980
Subhumans–Evolution, 1983
Spoiler–Cat Brain
Lord Melody–The Beast
Johan Dalgas Frisch–(Symphony of the Birds) Emperor Waltz


Bad Music Seminar 6 (War) took place at Ohio State University, March 2015

Cornelius Cardew–Revolution Is The Main Trend In The World Today
Leonard Nimoy–A Visit To A Sad Planet
Troubled–Countdown To Revolution
Fred De Moss–Richard Nixon Is The Man
Huynh Minh Sieng–We Will Liberate The South (Vietnam Will Win)
The Corillions (Marlin Wallace)–This Is War
Discharge–Two Monstrous Nuclear Stock-piles
Canzoniere Internazionale–Inno Della Rivolta, c. 1894, anonymous music, lyrics by Luigi Molinari (1866-1918)
Tommy Marshall–Peacepipe or Tomahawk
The Portsmouth Sinfonia–Apache (Gavin Bryars)
Tom Heidlebaugh–The Battle Of Little Big Horn (Laughing Bear)


Bad Music Seminar 7 (The Sound of Utopia) took place at the University of Illinois, Chicago,
May 11 2016


Tim Clark— opening track, Somewhere Else (from LP The Last Question
Morgan FisherJerusalem, from LP Miniatures, 1980—Hubert Parry’s setting for William Blake’s poem (1804) known by 1st line “And did those feet in ancient time,” from the Preface to Milton, A Poem
Rudimentary Peni (Nick Blinko)The Gardener, 1981
The Mud HuttersCultivation (from LP Factory Farming, 1980)
TV PersonalitiesIn A Perfumed Garden (from The Could Have Been Bigger Than The Beatles, 1982)
Harry MerryVillage Life in 1905, (2005)
ArcesiaLeaf (Reachin’, 1971)
Pastor John RydgrenDark Side of the Flower (from Silhouette Segments, originally 1968)
Plant MusicPhoto Synthesizer, played by A Baroque Bouquet, 1975
Dr. George MilsteinMusic To Grown Plants, 1975
Ann ChaseA Chant for your Plants, 1976

A performance conceived for Chris Reeves’ and Aaron Walker’s Expanded Art History for Plants #4: The Sound of Utopia at the University of Illinois, Chicago, May 11 2016, then reconfigured for the Hothouse Archives conference at NYU in November 2018, organized by Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach. A version extended over 4 weeks was performed in April 2019 at Anytime Dept., Cincinnati, during the exhibition Songs the Plants Taught Us.
The fourth installment of EAHFP sails around Sir Thomas More’s island of Utopia, attempting to wrap its head around the idea that we will never know what More actually sounded like. What more (or More), critical consensus has never been reached on just what More meant of the Utopia island’s musical entertainment section: Musica Reservata. What IS agreed upon, however, is that whatever this music is, it is something new: a relationship between words and sound, symbolic expression & artistry unheard of. Imagining that More’s Utopia band were to be present today, what might they sound like? EAHFP #4 anchors into the sand, sets up speakers, and attempts to deliver an aural equivalent of the sound of Utopia in all its contemporary glory. (Reeves/Walker)

Named after Luis Eduardo Luna’s recordings of Peruvian ayahuasceros’ healing songs, this “bad music” seminar features strange vinyl recordings inspired by plants, gardens and agricultural utopian thought like Charles Fourier’s: “A group of Maiden Strawberry-growers arrives at the end of the session. They have been cultivating a strawberry-ringed glade in the neighboring forest.” Selections will be played from bizarre horticulturally-inspired records accompanied by readings and discussion of plant-human relationships, myths, and metaphors.
The seminar kicks off with Morgan Fisher’s “Jerusalem,” 1980, that scores William Blake’s story of Jesus’s visit to Glastonbury, “…England’s green & pleasant land,” but which buries this alternative UK national anthem beneath a cacophonous musical collage.
Post-punk selections include Rudimentary Peni’s “The Gardener,” 1981, a worryingly benign paean to gardening from Nick Blinko’s band, best known for anarcho-noise. Also featured are TV Personalities’ “In A Perfumed Garden,” 1982, and The Mud Hutters’ “Cultivation,” 1980, that includes the lines “Cultivation, cultivation / Hit it in the head / Culture, culture.”
We listen to hallucinogen casualties like crooner Johnny Arcesi whose ode to a leaf, simply titled “Leaf,” was self-released as Arcesia on the remarkable 1971 LP Reachin’. Rodd Keith, the greatest song-poem performer, sings “Stroll Through the Wildflowers,” from the late 1960s. Keith’s exceptional skill could turn any poetic drivel into astonishing music, but his misplaced commitment to pay-per-song work was supporting a serious drug habit. Still on the hallucinatory side of flower power is Pastor John Rydgren singing “Dark Side of the Flower,” 1968. The original hip priest with the sexy voice, a Lee Hazlewood for Christians, Rydgren’s lyrics include the presciently rhizomatic “Can love survive, clinging only in one small garden?…They feel their roots deep in the soil, their roots touching the roots of other flowers.”
We will also try to discuss the incomprehensible work of enigmatic Dutch singer Harry Merry whose “Village Life in 1905,” 2005, validates his claim to be influenced by The Beatles, Disney, Charles Dickens, Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner: “Near the hay / I will stay, / Because I like it here / And now in the year 1905 / I feel so alive; cosy village-windmills; mud-hills / Tulips of large amount / Make me all think of thou / Lalalalalalala…”
In the interests of no soil left unturned, we will evaluate vinyl records promoting controversial theories of plant-human communication starting with Ann Chase’s A Chant for your Plants, 1976. Chase’s sleeve notes explain that a plant “may become emotionally involved when sexual relations are performed near it” and recommends to “Place your favorite plant in your bedroom and see what happens.” In her 1973 The Sound of Music and Plants Dorothy Retallack’s contested research reveals the right melodies to stimulate plant growth. However, her pseudo-science, informed by prior “study” concerning the effects of prayer on plants, may have been compromised by an open dislike for rock music and her support for Nixon’s War on Drugs. Dr. George Milstein’s Music To Grow Plants, 1975, may have the edge on Retallack as his plant-stimulating sounds “have been electronically embedded in this record” where “Every effort has been made to camouflage them.” Only the careful listening and analysis of our seminar can arrive at a verdict on these compelling assertions.