February 17, 2013

"When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks whose sickness is the games they play..."

"And when the morning of the warning's passed, the gassed and flaccid kids are flung across the stars."

Along Comes Mary... and then nothing more comes along.
“He used to tell me the music got better the longer he stayed awake,” said Thomas Bernath, a bass player who occasionally rehearsed with Mr. Almer and who is now cataloguing hundreds of tapes found in his apartment. “He didn’t feel like playing until he had been awake for two or three days.”

Mr. Almer often read books on science, and he began attending local meetings of Mensa — the high-IQ organization — in 1977. Several people said he had occasional long-term girlfriends, but he never married.

“He wasn’t shy at all,” Bernath said. “He was, unbelievably, a happy guy. There was never any complaining or gnashing of teeth about money. He was so sensitive — not in the way of having his feelings hurt. But I almost felt he could read my mind. I’ve never been around anybody who was that perceptive.”

Although he briefly drove a taxi and had a job building computer circuit boards, Mr. Almer lived almost entirely on intermittent royalty checks. 
Tandyn Almer died last month at the age of 70. Via Metafilter which also links here, where there are many interesting video clips related to Almer and "Along Comes Mary" and some nice detail about Leonard Bernstein's fascination with the song. ("Along Comes Mary, in the ancient and honorable Dorian mode — the same mode we just heard in Debussy and in the plain-chant. Now who’d have thunk it?")

(You can pre-order "Along Comes Tandyn.")

AND: You can buy a box set of Leonard Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts" — 9 DVDs, 1500 minutes, only $84. (This seems to be 25 of the 53 shows he did for TV.)

52 comments:

edutcher said...

Ann gets down when the rockers die.

I feel the same way when the actors on the old Westerns go.

Your childhood is slowly slipping away.

Carol said...

I always thought that was the Association's best one, lyrics were a big reason..it was all downhill after that.

Ann Althouse said...

@edutcher This is about appreciating good work and an interesting life, which is something that should happen when you read obituaries. I'd never heard of this man, who, by the way, wasn't in The Association, and I don't like making my emotional life the subject of this post. But since you brought it up, your guess about my feelings is off.

ironrailsironweights said...

Mr. Almer often read books on science, and he began attending local meetings of Mensa — the high-IQ organization — in 1977.

This may be the key to understanding why he became so weird and reclusive. Males with very high I.Q. scores not infrequently encounter a phenomenon known as the Nerd Cliff. Despite their high intelligence they lack normal social skills and become severely maladjusted. The dweeb who spends 18 hours a day in mom's basement playing WoW or D&D is a prime example.
For some reason, high-I.Q. females rarely face this situation.

Peter

Mitchell the Bat said...

"Along Comes Mary" is one of those songs I like that I've never heard from beginning to end.

EDH said...

Never paid attention to the lyrics... but they are far-out, man, in a psychedelic yet coherent kind of way.

He must have stayed-up for days writing that one.

You can buy a box set of Leonard Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts" — 9 DVDs, 1500 minutes...

Only if Lenny is wearing an Alfred E. Newman mask the entire time.

BarrySanders20 said...

From the story: "For years, Mr. Almer had no health insurance."

This is now a required reference in every MSM story until Obamacare is not only tolerated and accepted, but celebrated.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

@edutcher This is about appreciating good work and an interesting life, which is something that should happen when you read obituaries. I'd never heard of this man, who, by the way, wasn't in The Association, and I don't like making my emotional life the subject of this post. But since you brought it up, your guess about my feelings is off.

Madam, my point was that it makes us remember our own mortality.

You remember the rockers and note their passing. It touches you, us, all of us, whether you wish to admit it or not, but I will respect your privacy and not pursue it any further.

kentuckyliz said...

Maybe he had no health insurance because he didn't need it. You only insure for risks you can't afford to pay for.

Ann Althouse said...

"Madam, my point was that it makes us remember our own mortality."

Talk about yourself then. It wasn't my point.

People die every day, obituaries are interesting, and we can gain insight into many things about life. I dislike this kind of morbidness about obituaries, and it is not my intent in posting on this and most other obituaries that I post about.

When I'm interested in the topic of death, I'll talk about death and use the tag "death." It's not like I'm sensitive about the topic of death and trying to avoid it! I find that suggestion annoying too.

wyo sis said...

I always loved Along Comes Mary. Mitchell the Bat, you should find a performance of it and listen all the way through. I'd like to hear the words without knowing the song just to hear it as poetry. I can't get the words to separate from the music in my mind.

ricpic said...

After the along came Mary part of Along Came Mary the sing along types were reduced to mumbling some made up idiocy to the actual lyrics cause who could memorize the actual cockamamie convolutions?

ricpic said...

Oops, Along Comes Mary not Came.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Madam, my point was that it makes us remember our own mortality.

Talk about yourself then. It wasn't my point.

People die every day, obituaries are interesting, and we can gain insight into many things about life. I dislike this kind of morbidness about obituaries, and it is not my intent in posting on this and most other obituaries that I post about.

When I'm interested in the topic of death, I'll talk about death and use the tag "death." It's not like I'm sensitive about the topic of death and trying to avoid it! I find that suggestion annoying too.


John Donne might disagree.

And I never suggested any avoidance or sensitivity on your part.

Just that it registers with all of us who noted his work.

Chip S. said...

Vague desire is a fire that drives chicks to play sick games?

Whut?

Dan Harris said...

I'm 60 years old and continue to be a fan of the pop music of my youth, yet I never heard of this guy until yesterday. Suddenly I see two references to Tandyn Almer in two days. Weird. I may have to check out his music.

Dan Harris said...

I'm 60 years old and continue to be a fan of the pop music of my youth, yet I never heard of this guy until yesterday. Suddenly I see two references to Tandyn Almer in two days. Weird. I may have to check out his music.

Palladian said...

"Along Comes Mary"... usually followed by a lot of comment deletions.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Vague desire is a fire that drives chicks to play sick games?

Whut?


If you don't really know what it is that you want, or are told in vague terms what you should be wanting by media, peer pressure.... young people get confused. Young girls [chicks] discover the power of their sexuality and realize that they can manipulate the horny young men around them. The girls don't know what they want, but they know they have the POWER to get ....something.

The sick games commence.

Inga said...
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Inga said...

Oh dear God. Now Edutcher is telling Althouse what is in her heart of hearts, then when she corrects him, he persists AS IF he knows her better than she knows herself. What an annoying pompous ass of a man.

St. George said...

Wikipedia says he invented "The Perfect Bong."

Ha.

Co-wrote "Marcella," one of Brian's favorites....

"One arm over my shoulder.
Sandals dance at my feet.
Eyes that knock you right over.
Ooo, Marcella's so sweet

Yeah, yeah."

Chip S. said...

I see what you're saying, DBQ, and you make a good case. But I still have a hard time buying desire as vague. Obscure, certainly, but not vague.

The girls you describe aren't vague about their desire to manipulate--it seems to be an end in itself.

William said...

There is nothing in the story of his life to demonstrate the efficacy of LSD and marijuana in treating bipolar disorders. Along Came Mary was, according to him, all about marijuana.....I don't know if any life has a moral, but the bare facts of his life indicate that it was subverted more than enhanced by drug use. On the other hand, he was apparently too stoned to comprehend how depressing his life truly was.

Surfed said...

Here's the 1967 Inside Pop interview of Mr. Almer by Mr. Bernstein.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afU76JJcquI

Ann Althouse said...

I'd never been able to understand the words to the song "Along Comes Mary." It was interesting to read them, and it seems obvious that the guy was more interested in the sounds of the words than either the meaning or whether they were singable.

"passed... gassed... flaccid".... hilarious!

Surfed said...

Ther words made perfect sense in 1967 when we were passing around the water pipe with the bowl full of blond Lebanese hashish, the smike curling away in swirls and patterns and...conversation.

Chip S. said...

"passed... gassed... flaccid".... hilarious!

It's not funny to the millions of people in nursing homes for whom this is everyday life.

edutcher said...

You knew this was coming...

Inga said...

Oh dear God. Now Edutcher is telling Althouse what is in her heart of hearts, then when she corrects him, he persists AS IF he knows her better than she knows herself.

No, she made an assumption about my comment and I corrected her.

What an annoying pompous ass of a man.

Gee, now the She-Wolf of the SS is telling both of us what we meant.

And projects his/her/its own commentarial persona.

How annoying!

Does it seem like everybody gets annoyed on Sundays around here?

PS I love the appeal to the masses. The She-Wolf figures it worked so well for Heinrich and Reinhard and the rest of the boys in the Occupied Territories, it will work here.

madAsHell said...

the Nerd Cliff

When the good grades, and high test scores, are diagnosed as a full blown psychosis.

m stone said...

@edutcher and Ann: {group hug}

Ann Althouse said...

@Surfed Thanks for linking to that video. I wonder if I watched that at the time. I feel like I'd remember, but I don't. Would I have scorned it as square and clueless? But I think I would have watched just to see (especially) The Byrds.

tiger said...

In the book 'A Child's Garden of Grass' the author mentions a type of pipe/hooka called a Tandyn Slave-Master invented by - you guessed it - this guy.

And yeah my mind is a junk yard.

tiger said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Madam, my point was that it makes us remember our own mortality."

Talk about yourself then. It wasn't my point.

People die every day, obituaries are interesting, and we can gain insight into many things about life. I dislike this kind of morbidness about obituaries, and it is not my intent in posting on this and most other obituaries that I post about.

When I'm interested in the topic of death, I'll talk about death and use the tag "death." It's not like I'm sensitive about the topic of death and trying to avoid it! I find that suggestion annoying too.\


Well from your post he might of missed your point but he certainly hit a nerve...

Gary Rosen said...

It points up how the most important, and rarest, talent in pop music is songwriting. E. g. the Beatles - lots of folks could sing or play as good or better than them, but hardly anyone else wrote 100-150 good songs.

Surfed said...

It's always a shock to see everyone smoking cigarettes back in the day. It's funny in that I've tried every drug known twice and the only one I've ever had a problem with was nicotine. A 1967 - 2000 problem. 33years. And it was the legal stuff.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some people are overly sensitive this morning.

Ann gets down when the rockers die.


I took the getting down to be in the "getting down" slang way. Not down as in emotionally down. I'm down with that. Getting down to the nitty gritty. Getting down to the bone Down down down to the bone. (one of my very most favorite groups. Turn up the sound.)

And speaking for myself. The obituaries of famous people or those who made an impact on my life and the culture, do remind me of my own mortality. It is one thing to read about those who we....oh.....excuse me....I think of as being older or in my parents generation dieing off and then another to see our contemporaries passing.

It is an opportunity to feel sad about the passing of the person, the loss of their genius and yet reminisce in a fond way about our youth....speaking for MYSELF only, of course.

Our...I mean MY....youth is slip sliding away with each passing of a cultural icon. Such is life. Get used to it.

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfed said...

@Professor - Just finished viewing "Inside Pop". It would have been square in 1967. Fascinating now for the content alone, cultural milieu and zeitgeist, while not beside the point, only of subsidiary interest because I was there when it was happening.

edutcher said...

Thank you, ma'am.

All I meant to say.

You just said it a little better.

Michael said...

The British have the best obits. They revere their eccentrics.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astro said...

Ann Althouse said... I'd never been able to understand the words to the song "Along Comes Mary."

Get sick, get well
Hang around an ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write Braille
Get jailed, jump bail Join the army, if you failed
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters.

-Subterranean Homes Blues, Dylan (of course)

Great (or popular) songs don't have to make a lot of sense.

Or from our parent's generation:

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

-Mares Eat Oats, Eugene Hayek

Ann Althouse said...

@Astro I didn't mean that kind of understand. I meant I could not hear the specific words, not that I was unable to interpret the meaning of the words.

I think one reason Dylan became so popular is that the words were clearly articulated. You had to think about what they were supposed to mean, and that was a very interested thing to do.

tiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tiger said...

Astro posted:

'Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?'

Yeah and *you* missed what was right in front of your eyes in your post:

'Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy too.

a kid will eat ivy too wouldn't you'

'Kid' as a baby sheep.

Nothing strange about it.

Geeze do I have to do *all* the heavy lifting around here? ;)

2/17/13, 4:05 PM

Astro said...

I didn't miss anything.
Even if I didn't already know that, the song title gives it away. (Did you ever hear it sung?)

Don't strain yourself too much with that lifting.

Astro said...

I think that 'Mairzy Doats' song can be found in Hayek's famous songbook 'The Row, row, rowed to Surf-dom'.

SOJO said...

When ppl said 'chicks' without irony, in that most unironic of times.

creeley23 said...

I remember the song but I never bothered to work out the words. I had the sense the lyrics were attempting to be socially relevant. Some people told me it was about marijuana which sounded about right.

I had no idea of the writer. Good catch.

Surfed said...

@Professor & Astro: Whatever the meaning of the "Mairzy Doats" (I agree with Astro's reading) Mr. Kubrick picked it over "And Along Comes Mary" for Hal to sing as Dave unplugged him/it bit by bit (literally).