in: Tioga County Courier, 26. August 1998

Louis Hardin a.k.a Moondog

by Mike Gulachok 8-26-98

Somewhere in the recesses of time and memory, in the early 70s to be specific, I felt a profound ineffable sadness and melancholy over the state of affairs of Louis Hardin, a.k.a. Moondog.

My feelings were: Why should such a unique individual with diverse talents in musical composition, musicianship, poetry, life style always be stifled and struggling for the mere basics of shelter, sustenance, self expression?

One of the earliest local notations of Hardin appeared in a 1958 edition of an Owego newspaper: "Strange Owego Visitors" - These two men, who made a brief stop at Owego Friday morning, created considerable interest among local people. The two men told a news photographer they were from New York City and came to this area to look at some property. The man at left called himself "Moondog" and gave his real name as Louis Hardin. His companion was called "Robbins". Moondog said he has modeled his clothing after that of the Indians. His apparel consisted of material resembling an army blanket equipped with a hood. The entire exterior clothing consisted of only one piece of garment. The visitors had planned to camp out and sleep out over night in the Owego area Friday."

By now most everyone should be familiar with the Hardin story. Moondog was an off and on resident of Candor (1958-74) dividing his time between Manhatten and the rural precincts of Upstate new York.

In '74 Moondog moved to Germany to work on his own brand of experimental music, and to be imbued with the wondorous cultures of continental Europe.

Like many Americans artists before him, it took a commitment to Europe for Hardin to be fully appreciated and given the opportunities and means of expression that were largely denied in America.

Three years ago, British rock musician Elvis Costello invited Moondog to perform at the Meltdown Festival in London. On February 26th, National Public Radio carried a story on Louis Hardin, which an excerpt follows:

Elvis Costello, musician: "We heard his afternoon concert, which was scheduled to run I suppose an hour and a half, like most concerts. And I think it ran for two and a half hours because Moodog was absolutely unstoppable once he got on stage, much to everybody's surprise, because another thing that's very hard to judge in his age. I mean, people would - would assume that a person of his chronological age

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mistakes. The suggestion that they might have done it for artistic purposes goes nowhere with him. Although his music is jazzy, he's not interested in improvisation and he feels the saxophone, for which he wrote most of the music on his latest album, is a noble instrument that has been much abused."

Moondog: "Some of the jazz musicians bend the notes and make them sound almost comical, and they're not that sort of thing. They can be treated as respectfully as you would an oboe or a clarinet."

Olsher: "Moondog also has strong opinions about the acoustical properties of music. He's developed a complex theory about overtones - the barely audible ancillary pitches that appear every time a note is

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vowels. It starts with 'ah' like in 'bought' and 'ah' like 'pot'; 'uh' like 'butt'; 'uh' like 'put'; 'ooh' like 'boot'; 'aa' like 'pat'; 'eh' like 'bet'; 'ih' like 'pit'; and 'be' like 'beef'.

So there are nine vowels corresponding to the first nine overtones. And without the overtones, you'd have no vowels and without vowels you'd have no speach. In fact, the vowels are in your throat and all the overtones are there, too. In other words, God has branded you before you were born even. You're branded as  I call them 'overtonians'. And that's something I wasn't taught in school."

Olsher: "Nor were most people. But Elvis Costello thinks that's no reason to write-off Moondog's unique beliefs."

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theories, there are also very grounded aspects about Moondog that remind us he was born 82 years ago with the name Louis Hardin in Kansas, and that the music of the plains Indians, with its connection to the rhythms of the Earth and the human body, was never far away."

Moondog: "Mostly, I use a

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Olsher: "Even people who have spent a lot of time enjoying Moondog's music don't pretend to understand his contradictions and idiosyncrasies. But who says we have to?"

This late winter, Atlantic Records released "Sax Pax For A Sax" by Moondog and the London Saxophonic. The CD takes an original stance on the use of the saxophone in what sounds to this ear as an avant-garde surreal swinging big band, and in other pieces a more down tempo autobiographical feel.

A sampling of Hardin's lyrics from "To A Sax":

"In Sax's name I'd like to know what Rollini, Parker, Young and mo'e musicians would have done if

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