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Baker's Dozen

Is This Music? Norman Blake's Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , July 28th, 2021 13:06

From the overlooked influence of Throbbing Gristle to an enduring love of The Velvet Underground, via Broadcast, The Rolling Stones and more, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake picks the thirteen records that shaped him


Kathy McCarty – Dead Dog’s Eyeballs: The Songs Of Daniel Johnston

I love this album and I chose it because I wanted to incorporate my love of Daniel Johnston and also my love of Jad Fair’s music because it was through Jad that I heard this album. We’ve recorded with him in the past and he gave me this album.

Kathy was friend of Daniel’s and I think they dated for a bit. Daniel was fan of her band, Glass Eye, and he passed a tape of his onto Kathy. She took those very rough recordings that Daniel had made and realised that there were these incredible songs in there and decided to do more straight ahead versions because she thought that would get them to a wider audience. But sadly she didn’t, because not a lot of people are aware of this album. I think she’s trying to finance a vinyl issue.

The sounds on this are beautiful and the recording of this is incredible. The arrangements that she’s come up with are really, really good and it showcases the brilliant songs from Daniel from this period. There’s some great songs on here like ‘Walking the Cow’. I thought that was a really lovely image, a little girl walking a cow, and Jad Fair told me that in Texas in the 60s, there was a milk company and the logo on their milk carton was a picture of a girl walking with a cow behind her and that’s where Daniel got that title from.

It’s also got ‘Like A Monkey In A Zoo’, which we later covered with Jad, and Daniel did the artwork for the 7” that we put out. That song’s about the alienation he felt through his mental illness but really beautifully illustrated by using the metaphor of a monkey trapped in a cage.

But with those Daniel Johnston cassettes, as much as I loved them, sometimes I have to pick out exactly what I was singing, and another song that I love here is ‘Wild West Virginia’ and it’s Daniel reminiscing about his time when he was younger, but the lyrics are absolutely beautiful.

This is an album that people would like a lot if they got a chance to hear it and to hear these lovely versions of Daniel Johnston’s songs.