Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dion McGregor: The Dream World of Dion McGregor (He Talks In His Sleep)

Lyricist and somnologuist Dion McGregor (pronounced “Dyin”) remains the only recorded example of someone who riffed in his sleep. In the 1960s, his best-known professional gig was a collaboration with his roommate Michael Barr: the song “Where Is the Love”, which Barbra Streisand recorded in 1965. But his best-known gig overall was an unpaid one, also with his roommate Michael Barr: a giant archive of open-reel recordings of McGregor talking in his sleep. Barr captured McGregor on tape as he sleep-talked hilarious, frightening, surreal, sometimes very dirty monologues, while car horns and white noise drifted in from the open windows of their New York City apartment. As word of Dion’s dream tapes got around, eventually they reached the ear of producer Jules Green, who pitched Decca on the idea of an LP, and helped compile this series of (safe-for-work) cuts that Decca released in 1964 replete with artwork by Edward Gorey. The voice you hear on this LP – and the several CD compilations that followed in the years to come, including this one, this one, and this one coming soon – is sometimes the voice of a made-up character (as in the amazing “The Mogul”), but most of the time it’s just Dion narrating what he sees in the cadence of a child talking to his toys: patiently expositional, gossipy, and slightly scandalized by all the bizarre goings-on. Some of this comes off today as camp, but in fact a lot of this material remains deeply subversive and full of deathless one-liners. I finally scored a copy of this LP recently after a long search, but the record was badly scratched and practically unplayable. Fortunately others have digitized this out-of-print LP for your enjoyment. In the meantime, here’s a nice high-res, cleaned-up copy of the album artwork.

LP artwork

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my knowledge, this work is out of print and not available for purchase in any format. If you are the artist and are planning a reissue, please let me know and I’ll remove it from the blog. Also please get in touch if you’ve lost your art &/or sound masters and would like to talk with me about my restoration work.

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