Thursday, May 11, 2006:

The Roots Canal: The Fugs

The Village Fugs -- I Couldn't Get High
As long as we're hanging out in the streets of Greenwich Village (see David Blue, below), let's not forget the legendary Village Fugs (they dropped the "village" after their first record). They were usually described as folk-rock but that doesn't quite fit their surreal beatnik garage music. Actually, to call them a garage band compliments their musical skill. They prided themselves at not being musicians. They were right. But they had other charms, largely their ability to outrage.

At the heart of the band were a couple of proto-Hippies named Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders. Kupferberg was a beat poet; Sanders published a magazine called Fuck You/a magazine of the arts. They wrote songs like Kill for Peace, Do You Like Boobs a Lot, Dirty Old Man and Group Grope. They named the band after the euphemism for "fuck" that's pretty much every other word in Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. (Dorothy Parker is said to have introduced herself to Mailer by saying, "So you're the man who can't spell fuck.") At the time, it was pretty far out there. Of course, this band would be pretty far out there at any time. The only song of theirs that actually approached anything mainstream was Morning, Morning, which became a popular Richie Havens song.

This being Greenwich Village at a seminal period, the Fugs have been chronicled pretty exhaustively. Their website has a first-person history of the band. You can read interviews here and here.

I think this song captures the craziness of the times as well as anything. I digitized this from a scratchy old vinyl, but most of their stuff has been released on CDs. Believe me, it doesn't make much of a difference.

[The Fugs' First Album]
I just wanted to let you know you are still doing it right...hope you're well.

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