Thursday, May 22, 2014

Henry Gibson: Henry Gibson

Between 1957 and 1962, a short, nebbishy white dude started appearing on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show, doing poetry readings that all started with the name of the poem followed by a declaratory “…by Henry Gibson”. The poems, which featured the accent and cornpone subject matter of the author’s Alabama hometown, had the carefully enunciated prose cadence of a sixth-grade school report, were structured like laundry lists, and often had a closing summary line that he’d repeat. And all of America heard this man describe counting alligators on a Saturday night and asked: Is this man really a fucking idiot? There was, of course, no Wikipedia to tell people instantly that, no, this guy was not for real: this was actor James Bateman of Philadelphia, and Henry Gibson was a character he’d been putting on for fun for years (say “A Doll’s House” and the name of this album, and you’ll get the drama-school joke behind the alias). It’s all very wholesome, friendly, and sprinkled with a lurking surrealism like an unexplained whiffle bat on the wall at the dentist’s office. What could be more fun for an actor than telling a supper club audience how to skin a polecat? Originally recorded and released in 1962 under the title The Alligator, this reissue dates from 1968 when Henry was enjoying renewed popularity thanks to his recurring walk-on appearances on Laugh-In.

How To Write A Poem
The Alligator
Why I Like Soap
The Newspaper
How To Skin A Polecat
How Now, Calpurnia
The Feather
Here TodayGone Tomorrow
A Little Bit About Myself
How To Take Care Of The Plum Tree
Happiness Can Be Yours For Little Or No Money
Reflections Of New York
The Coyote
Two Functional Poems
Education Is Important
What Freedom Means To Me In 25 Words Or Less
Why I Like Poetry

Album audio & 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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