Marvin tills the soil, he's livin' naked out on the land
He only eats what he can grow, they call him Organo-Man
The strangest thing about Marvin is, I'll never understand
I saw him out just the other day with an ice-cream in his hand
There was a time when Uncle Johnny was breeding Siamese cats, and he brought a couple with him. One of them got so freaked out that it ran up in the rafters of our still-unfinished house and refused to come down. So, we ended up with a pet Siamese cat by default. In short, a real character: Tall, with long black curly hair, glasses and eyes that always seemed to be bugging out of his head. But a really good-hearted person. He would always send us records at Christmas, and they were invariably by people we had never heard of--obscure folkies, primarily. That's how we got the Joe Hickerson disc. I'm not sure how it ended up at my brother's apartment. (He gave us a couple of records by a guy named Ed Lipton, who did children's songs--"Fly, Hippopotamus, Fly" and "Jump, Elephant, Jump" are two song titles that spring to mind. I don't think he ever experienced Raffi-type success).
My brother and I were always inclined to make fun of the music on the records Uncle Johnny sent us (then again, we were inclined to make fun of just about anything), but I eventually grew to like some of Joe Hickerson's stuff. It probably requires growing up and becoming interested in music of the old, weird America. Hickerson's delivery is a bit stilted--he really sounds like the folk scholar that he is--but there's something sort of charming about that. Anyway, the songs don't suffer too much from it. I like Rolling of the Stones in particular. It has a really haunting melody and lyrics that leave you scratching your head (I'm pretty sure it's a Child ballad). Shingling the Rum-Seller's Roof is funny--it's both an anti-alcohol tune and a good drinking song, and it's a metaphor I want to start using more often. The record came out in 1976, on the Folkways label (appropriately enough).