Friday, August 12, 2005

Goodness Gracious

Kevin Gilbert may be the best musician that you never knew existed. He has a voice that cuts right into you. I was stunned into silence the first time I heard him sing. He died in 1996 a virtual unknown. Some people live in a town that has a station that might play “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” or “Last Plane Out” from the eponymous “Toy Matinee” album. He was the lead singer, principle songwriter and creative spark behind that album that is known in the business but seldom heard by the general public.

He worked behind the scenes with Madonna and Michael Jackson. He formed a band called The Tuesday Night Music Club and brought his yet-undiscovered girlfriend into the sessions. Many believe he was the creative force behind that record.

In 1994, he recorded “Thud,” a personal, devastating document exploring the dark side of relationships and his own painful visions. He recorded a brilliant cover of “Kashmir” that was intended for the Led Zeppelin tribute, but rejected because he was a “nobody.”

He was working on a classic rock opera titled “The Shaming of the True” at the time of his death in 1996. The album was completed and released by his friend and musical collaborator Nick DiVirgilio. This is a brilliant album that is both an indictment of the music business and a document of an artist on the edge. You can hear bits of Pink Floyd, Queen, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant and Elton John.

He wrote and sang the song Goodness Gracious in 1994, claiming it was just a member of generation X complaining about how the baby-boomers made such a mess of things, just like the boomers complained about the WWII generation. The words ring true today.

Goodness Gracious
From the album “Thud” by Kevin Gilbert

Goodness Gracious is there nothing left to say?
When the ones that get to keep looking
are the ones that look away
It's pabulum for the sleepers
in the cult of brighter days

Goodness Gracious at the mercy of the crooks
We're broke and stroking vegetables
and there's way too many cooks
In every pot a pink slip, In every mouth a hook

Goodness Gracious I'm not listening anymore
Cause the spooks are in the White House
and they've justified a war
So wake me when they notify
we're gonna fight some more

Goodness Gracious not many people care
Concern is getting scarcer
true compassion really rare
I can see it on our faces. I can feel it in the air
Goodness Gracious me.

Goodness Gracious my generation's lost
They burned down all our bridges
before we had a chance to cross
Is it the winter of our discontent or just an early frost?

Goodness Gracious of apathy I sing
The baby boomers had it all and wasted everything
Now recess is almost over
and they won't get off the swing

Goodness Gracious we came in at the end
No sex that isn't dangerous, no money left to spend
We're the cleanup crew for parties
we were too young to attend
Goodness Gracious me.

Goodness Gracious my grandma used to say
The world's a scary place now,
things were different in her day
What horrors will be commonplace
when my hair starts to grey?


Anonymous blue girl said...

Hi Al! Is this the guy who was hooked-up with Sheryl Crow?

11:13 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Yep. They were a couple until TNMC took off. She publicly took credit for things that were clearly a group effort. I really don't like her, but I imagine KG was difficult also. Later he was in a relationship with Cintra Wilson, who seemed from the outside a perfect mate. He broke it off with her a couple of months before he died with little or no explanation. She wrote some of the liner notes to "Shaming of the True."

11:57 AM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

I have to find this old comment on Nancy Nall's blog. Someone wrote about this guy awhile back and linked to a website where he had written his "bio" -- and it was incredible. If I can find it, I'll let you know.

3:40 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

I believe the bio you are referring is this one here:

"My name is Kevin Gilbert. My album is called Thud. I was born with a piece of J.C. Penny stainless steel flatware in my mouth, and I scratched and clawed my way out of the upper middle class ghetto of San Mateo, California to become the feared yet loved pariah that I am today. I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling buildings and crushing ice. I write award-winning operas and translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees. I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I can cook two-minute eggs in less than a minute. I have been known to remodel subway stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat dispersion. Occasionally, I trade ribald jests with heads of state.

"I have written number-one singles for a friend. I am an expert in glass bricklaying, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Brazil. I breed prize-winning clams. I wrote, produced, and played most of Thud in an overgrown home recording facility which I hand-built with money I earned composing innocuous television scores under an assumed name. I pay my bills on time. I don't perspire. I think reverb is dishonest but sometimes necessary. I, too, have written and produced material for Madonna, and refused to have sex with her. Using only a hoe and a glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from an attack of ferocious army ants. I read ancient Egyptian manuscripts in the original Sanskrit.

"I am an abstract sculptor, a master archer, and a ruthless bookie. I once engineered sessions for Michael Jackson and unknowingly offered him a bite of my hot dog. I own many of Burt Bachrach's instrumental recordings and periodically annoy the neighbors by playing them at a high volume. I sleep only fifteen minutes a night and do so standing up. It is not true that I performed covert operations for the CIA. I think Peter Gabriel was a brilliant artist until he underwent EST training. I am an unselfish lover, an investor in the Chinese stock market, a rabble-rousing herdboy, and an inspiration for freedom fighters everywhere. My dad was a respected physicist, and I changed my name from Kelvin. Children trust me.

"After one listen, I can play any song on several instruments. I do not own a television or a blues record. I was the lead singer and chief songwriter of Toy Matinee. I can make extraordinary four course meals using only a spatula and a toaster oven. I believed in and voted for Clinton. I have performed open heart surgery, and I have spoken to Elvis.

"But I have never released a solo record."

4:30 PM  

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