In 1916, Hugo Ball would fulfill his own dadaist manifesto by reciting his own nonsense poetry at the Cabaret Voltaire (not that Cabaret Voltaire), while wearing a Cubist costume or a cylinder with the number 13 covering his face. Ball's poem, Gadji Beri Bimba, inspired the Talking Heads song, I Zimbra, but his most famous poem is Karawane, a pioneering example of sound poetry. Karawane has more conventional avant-garde versions on YouTube, but none is more surreal than the recitation from memory by Marie Osmond (yes, that Marie Osmond) from a 1980s broadcast of Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Ramsey Kearney was a teenage country music prodigy nicknamed the Dixie Farmboy, a rockabilly singer with the Jimmie Martin Combo, a songwriter for Brenda Lee, and a producer of the most cloying Elvis tribute single ever recorded. Kearney would have almost no connection to alternative music whatsoever until John Trubee, a notorious crank phone caller and sideman for Zoogz Rift, found an ad in the back of the Midnight Globe tabloid from Kearney's Nashco Records label, a song-poem company offering to put his words to music for a small fee. Trubee sent his own disturbing LSD-fueled lyrics to Nashco, but to his surprise, Nashco accepted the lyrics after taking a $79.95 fee from Trubee. Kearney tweaked the lyrics slightly in order to avoid a lawsuit from Stevie Wonder, but the end product was the cult classic novelty song, Blind Man's Penis. (more inside)