Playing the swing rhythms of the Indians…

The Viking of Sixth Avenue
(Honest Jon’s Records – UK)
Format: 2LP
Price: $24.00
Catalog #: HJR 018LP

“This new release from Honest Jon’s is the first overview of Moondog’s amazing artistic life — including recordings spanning from 1949 till 1995, with numerous 78s and various other vanished records revived for the first time (not to mention a couple of Weegee photographs!). Though the compilation is rooted in the decades Moondog regularly lived rough in New York City, performing on street corners — The Viking Of Sixth Avenue — at the same time it lays the music’s claim to the future. It makes vivid sense of his inspiration of fans from Igor Stravinsky to Bob Dylan, Mr. Scruff to Frank Zappa, Charlie Parker to Elvis Costello, Janis Joplin to Anthony And The Johnsons. As Moondog put it himself in 1989 — ‘I still love horned helmets and swords and spears. I like to feel that I’m loyal to my past. I wouldn’t want to be on the street anymore. But, you know, that led to a lot of things.’

“Moondog was born Louis Thomas Hardin on May 26, 1916, in Marysville, Kansas. Noting the five-year-old’s interest in percussion, his father — an Episcopal minister — took him to see an Arapaho Sun Dance. During the ritual the budding musician was allowed to sit on Chief Yellow Calf’s lap and play the tom-tom. This experience — and later playing tom-tom and flute with the Blackfoot tribe in Idaho at another Sun Dance — would have a profound and lasting effect on the development of his own music and ideas. ‘The American Indians have this basic beat,’ Moondog said in 1995, ‘a heartbeat in two speeds — a walking beat (in twos) and a running beat (in four). I use those rhythms to this day. In fact it just came to me recently that American Indian music is just so syncopated that any jazz musician — especially in the swing era — would see a clear connection between jazz and Indian music. Those songs are not improvised — they’ve been handed down from generation to generation — they’re extremely old. I think of America as an ‘Old World’ too, maybe older culturally than Europe.’ And elsewhere: ‘Harmonically, my music is the same as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms; rhythmically, it goes back to the past — the swing rhythms of the Indians. You really couldn’t find anything more syncopated.'”

0 thoughts on “Playing the swing rhythms of the Indians…

  1. I met Moondog on the streets of New York before I knew who he was… We spent some time talking together… I could feel he could see me through his blind eyes… He even told me himself, said he could see my face… Might have been an omen of things to come. It was before he was picked up Philip Glass who more or less made a career out of him… It was not until years later that I picked up Moondog’s first LP at some French music store and remembered our encounter. I mean, how could I forget that get-up! I was charmed and enamored by his music… I had never heard of Philip Glass before, and I guess we have him to thank for allowing Moondog to finally get his own stuff on vinyl. I heard that towards the end of his life he was in Germany working on something for a 1000 piece orchestra… I wonder what ever became of that… I’d love to find and listen and own this volume described here, but why only LP… We live in such a CD world… For those interested, I am working with many people, electronic musicians, wet ware designers, laserists… on a traveling laserium project called Big Igloo. It’s been decades I’ve been trying to get this show on the road… Moondog would have loved it… He’d been at the gate every night. It’s kind of for him, maybe because of him, that I keep dreaming of such a crazy idea, consuming my time, my energy, my resources… while the big money folks couldn’t care less about erecting a 21st church! Go figure. Moondog, I salute you, and thanks to this blog for bringing this LP to my attention.

  2. ADD

    The French Label “Trace Label” inform you that we just release a Tribute to Moondog (Louis Hardin : 1916-1999)

    A tribute by 18 composers :

    You can Listen and buy the record on our Website :

    Moondog Official Site :


  3. please let me inform you about the release of my latest CD MOONDOG’s SHARP HARP (AM 1404-2), that was released on one of germanys leading classic labels ARS MUSICI. beside music of some old masters i recordet a big deal of MOONDOG compositions including 5 never before recorded tunes.

    Xenia Narati

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