Library of Cultural References

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Dig Infinity! The Life and Art of Lord Buckley

by Oliver Trager [2002]
ASIN: 1566491576

From Randy Remote:

"I've been reading a wonderful book entitled Dig Infinity! the Life and Art of Lord Buckley, by Oliver Trager, published a couple of months ago. Lord Buckley (1906-1960) was a humorist, standup comic, and philosopher who used the jazz or jive venacular in his pieces, many of them hip re-readings of classic literature. His most famous piece is The Naz, and he coined the phrase 'Willie The Shake.'"

Here's the Joni reference:

"As evidence of the Ivar albums' resonance in the liturgy of the following generation of American minstelsy, Joni Mitchell references Buckley's tag of the Bard in her song Talk To Me from her 1977 album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter when she sings, 'I stole that from Willie the Shake, you know/Neither a borrower or a lender be/Romeo, Romeo talk to me.'"

Randy goes on to say,

"The "Willie the Shake" phrase was also used by Ken Kesey in his novel Sometimes A Great Notion, but Joni's exposure to Lord Buckley may very well have come from her relationship with James Taylor, who has stuck a few LB lines in his own songs, and says in the book:

'I was fifteen or sixteen when I first heard Lord Buckley's records. I was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and someone down at the university suggested I listen to him. I had a friend down there and we got into Lord Buckley and began quoting him . . . His pieces [take on] very important, meaningful stuff like Shakespeare and Christ, claiming it for a generation and expressing it in those terms....'"

Randy also adds:

"Lord Buckley has influenced The Beatles -- "make it Jude!" is from a LB routine -- Dylan, who performed Black Cross early in his carreer (Jimmy Buffet has also recorded it), Robin Williams, The Firesign Theatre, Roseanne, and virtually every comedian. His buddies included Lenny Bruce, Jonathon Winters, and most of the 40's and 50's jazz musicians including Miles Davis. You can usually find his records on ebay. His only CD currently in print is His Royal Hipness (which does not contain Willie The Shake), available from Amazon, also they have short realaudio samples from this CD.

"The book also comes with a CD featuring interviews and routines, including an unreleased rendition of Willie The Shake from an interview.

"'You know why they called him Willie The Shake? Because he . . . SHOOK ever'body...they gave that cat five cents worth of paper and a nickel's worth of ink, he sat down and wrote up such a breeze, when he got through PPFFTT! ever'body got off! He was too tight a cat . . .'

"Sounds like someone else I can think of . . ."

(Contributed by Randy Remote)


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