Thursday, May 22, 2008



The tepid response to the lyrics of "Holy Holy Holy," and other songs I was writing in 1967, was used by Verve Records to moralize its way out of a contract, and to stifle artistic freedom by means of a business decision which allowed them to drop me from the label in the midst of recording my second album for them.

Had I been allowed to finish the album for Verve, which I was not, it would have been a controversial work of some merit, I believe, and would have been a meaningful record in both sales and subject matter. As was the case with my song "Vietnam," which was never promoted by Mira Records in 1966, because of it's subject matter, "HOLY HOLY HOLY" was singled out of existence by company politics at Verve.

The moral indignation of timid minds and small ideas was a throw back to the 50's and early 60's, when Lenny Bruce was getting arrested for merely using words like "shit" or "fuck" in his standup act. The moralizing about artistic endeavor had been a favorite of assholes and weaklings for too long in the music business.

It was around this time that Richard Pryor singlehandedly broke the barrier for the use of the word "motherfucker," which I'm sure still offends many of you. His courageous brilliance superseded the fear of using the word, as well as softening the venom associated with it's utterance in the arena of comedic genius. In other words, you have to view the entire context of a subject as opposed to singling out a specific word you might find distasteful.

In relating my story, and giving you the ammunition to shoot me down with it, I am moved to take a stronger position in defense of my own work, some of which I am making available for the first time in 40 years. If you think I did that so you could moralize or scrutinize my choice in subject matter, you're wrong.

I have no more patience with small minds now than I did in the 60's when I began creating this kind of material. If it were not for computers, the internet, myspace, facebook, and youtube, where I have made these works available, you never would have known about them at all.

If art is always subjected to some idiot at a record company or radio station, which it has been in the past, most of what you hear would never have been heard. Rap music is heard because the audience for it is greater than the moral opposition to it. I am not a rap fan, but that is not the point, it is the freedom of expression that has won out.

Now major labels have jumped on the bandwagon for one simple reason, money! It makes a lot of money! So where's the indignation? Where are the high minded morals? They have been tossed out for the sake of profit. So if I read this right, it means that profit is more important than morality.

My argument for "HOLY HOLY HOLY" is made crystal clear by the popularity of controversial rap and hip hop lyrics some forty years after I attempted to put forth a highly provocative work that some found offensive. If you take the position that Verve's dropping me from their label, based on my offensive subject matter, was appropriate then you are an asshole as well. You might as well go get a placard and mobilize a group to eliminate rap.

In writing this piece I asked my 89 year old mother what she thought about this particular segment and she felt as though I might be attacking the reader. I thought about this and told her that I was attacking the reader, if in fact they were moralizing in the manner that I am complaining about.

If you are not one them, then what I have said here does not apply. I don't want to write a blog for anybody if I have to edit and re-edit my thoughts, choice of words, or subject matter. I have my own opinion. I am sure that many people who may read what I write will simply not come back to read any more, that's fine. On the other hand, there will be people who are glad somebody is saying something other than the crap being perpetrated as fact.

There is an attitude in this country that if it's negative, it's bad, which I can not tolerate any more as a rational thinker. Of course you may disagree that I am rational. It's this, "we've got to be positive at all costs all the time." Why? Maybe if we spent more time being attentive to the truly negative things going on around us we could actually do something constructive about them.

Refusing to see something is exactly why we're still in a war that is a national tragedy, because few wanted to be seen as negative, back when we had the opportunity to say no to fools like George Bush and Dick Cheney. I tried to speak out about Vietnam and I was censored. I do not plan to be censored again. So if I have offended you, buck up, I have been offended my whole life.

If censorship is permitted, then freedom is challenged. You could do away with pornography, for example, simply because some people were offended by it. That may suit a few, but I am not interested in living under such conditions. Being born in the 40's I lived through the 50's and had to submit myself to the overbearing moralistic narrowness of that time, being too young to speak out.

When the 60's rolled in it heralded massive change to the overall structure of a society riddled with false taboos and boogeymen promulgated by the likes of Joe McCarthy. I vowed then to fight for the right of individual self expression. It's obvious that fight still continues.

Another of the demos from the period of 1967-68


  1. Sharing your opinion on the freedom of speech and being open-minded is your right and is interesting to read but hopefully you'll continue on sharing your lifes story also.

  2. That is the best part of Bobby, what makes him who he is. It IS his story, it is the passion behind his genius. He has preservered beyond all heartache, beyond all destructive nature of addiction, beyond all illness, beyond all obstacle to bring to us a message of truth. This is what he has always done. The magazine article he posted recently stated "his passion is extreme". That holds true today, it never changed. He makes us think, that comes as naturally to him as breathing. That is the most incredible thing about him. And he does not hide his vulnerability. For me, that is the true indication of living your truth. He has fought every imaginable obstacle and still believes the most basic human right, freedom. That is his story.


  3. These days, the powers that be have been patient in their craft, only 'assholes' can plot.
    It's so devious that only the D-man can feel the goose bumps of delight.
    You get the chance to speak your mind alright. Then it gets charted, listed, studied, processed and amalgamated into the stew of trend forecasting.
    Placated. The face of entertainment. Artistry has almost nothing to do with the music business today, and as you and others have pointed out, in the past way too often. When the rap industry and it's execs found out that those curse words and vapid subject matter sells the most records, it was just a repeat of the rock industry of the 70's with it's coked out ego comb.
    It is truly amazing still that the internet shows people some dimensions beyond corporate media outlets. It's tenuous and fragmented, but as a whole just what makes rigid systems crumble. It takes people like you to bare your soul to help this happen. The folks that may find fault in you, have not experienced anything authentic, and I can almost be sure, that they are frightened humans living through idol worship of the most trash inspired kind. It's exactly like the fast food phenomena. It's also a huge reason why true psychedelics are banned. They strip the excess off and you see the circus tent, if you were unaware of it in the first place. I have not read all your posts yet, I'm interested to hear you talk about what you got out of the 60's psychedelic movement..not the first one in history, or culturally, but the most talked about.
    It seemed to help edge on a bit of creativity, eh? peace, and keep up the great writing.