The Curious Universe of Outsider Music
by Irwin Chusid

BOOK and CDs spotlight musicians on the lunatic
Langley Schools
Music Project
- - Outsider musicians are often termed "bad" or "inept" by listeners who judge them by the standards of mainstream popular music. Yet despite dodgy rhythms and a lack of conventional tunefulness, these often self-taught artists radiate an abundance of earnestness and passion. And believe it or not, they're worth listening to, often outmatching all contenders for inventiveness and originality...
. .

the BOOK:
the Book

Author / producer Irwin Chusid's book profiles dozens of outsider musicians, both prominent and obscure, including such figures as The Shaggs, Syd Barrett, Tiny Tim, Joe Meek, Jandek, Captain Beefheart, The Cherry Sisters, Wesley Willis, Daniel Johnston, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Wild Man Fischer, and Harry Partch. The text presents their strange life stories along with photographs, interviews, cartoons, and discographies...

ISBN 1-55652-372-6
PAPER, $16.95

"Iconoclast / upstart Irwin Chusid has written a meticulously researched and passionate cry shedding long overdue light upon some of the guiltiest musical innocents of the twentieth century. An indispensable classic that defines the.indefinable." --John.Zorn

"Chusid takes us through the musical looking glass to the other side of the bizarro universe, where pop spelled backwards is ... pop? A fascinating collection of wilder cards and beyond avant.talents." --Lenny.Kaye

"This book is filled with memorable characters and their preposterous but true stories. As a musicologist, essayist, and humorist, Irwin Chusid gives good value for your entertainment.dollar." --Marshall.Crenshaw

Book ordering info:
Songs in the Key of Z

is available in better bookstores,
or click below to order online from:
> - >
>A Cappella Books - >
or call Chicago Review Press toll-free:

Introduction: The Realm of Outsider Music
Prologue: Transistor Under My Pillow - A Memoir
The Shaggs: Groove Is in the Heart
Tiny Tim: I Get a Kick Out of Uke
Jack Mudurian: Chatterbox Jukebox
Joe Meek: Blast from the Past
Song-Poems: Bus Fare to the Grammys
The Cherry Sisters: The Fruits of Clean Living
Jandek: The Great Disconnect
Daniel Johnston: Casper 1, Satan 0
Harry Partch: Hallelujah! He's a Bum
Wesley Willis: Hell Ride
Syd Barrett: Guitars and Dust
Eilert Pilarm: The King of Sweden
Lucia Pamela: Interstellar Overdrive
Captain Beefheart: Inscrutable Dreamer
Shooby Taylor: Scat Man Do
Florence Foster Jenkins: Widow's Peak
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Wide Open Space
Robert Graettinger: Sleep in the Grave
B. J. Snowden: Mission to Venus
Wild Man Fischer: Ritual of the Savage
Snapshots in Sound:
Elsewhere in the Curious Universe (52 brief
Afterword / Discography / Bibliography

The book includes artwork by the following talented luminaries:

- > Steve Bissette (Captain Beefheart)
- > Greg Carter (cover -- click here for large view)
- > Walt Holcombe (Tiny Tim)
- > Daniel Johnston (drawings)
- > Mark Martin (Wesley Willis; Song-Poems)
- > Patrick Moriarity (Wild Man Fischer)
- > Lucia Pamela (drawings)
- > Sean Taggart (Syd Barrett)
- > Wayno (Shooby Taylor)
- > J.R. Williams (The Legendary Stardust
- > Curtis Woodbridge (Florence Foster Jenkins)

the CDs:

Too strange for radio !

Outsider Musicians have come inside for a celebration of their art. Two counterpart CDs to the book SONGS IN THE KEY OF Z: THE CURIOUS UNIVERSE OF OUTSIDER MUSIC are available, produced by the book's author, Irwin Chusid.

The CDs feature songs by artists profiled in the book, and others discovered since the book's publication. From the uninhibited coyote howls of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy to the arrested-adolescent passion of Daniel Johnston; the flea-market cowboy soul of Buddy Max, to Joe Meek's ultra-rare, wobbly "Telstar" vocal demo; the Shaggs aboriginal backwoods rock to Lucia Pamela's vertigo-bent outer space lunacy -- the SONGS IN THE KEY OF Z CDs are unforgettable romps through music too strange for radio but too fascinating to ignore...

Order CDs from

> Key Of Z - Volume One

> Key Of Z - Volume Two

Irwin Chusid is a record producer, radio personality, journalist, and music historian. He was the primary force behind the resurgence of interest in pop composers Raymond Scott and Esquivel, and produced the heralded Langley Schools Music Project. Chusid hosts a weekly free-form radio program on WFMU, has produced dozens of records and concerts, and has written for The New York Times, Mojo, New York Press, and many other publications. His book about Jim Flora will be published in August 2004 by Fantagraphics.



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© 2000-2004 Irwin Chusid -- All Rights Reserved