H.R.H. Lord Buckley:
The Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat
And Hipster of the Heart
~ ~ ~
“Lord Buckley was more influential than anybody.” – Ken Kesey
“There is a kind of spirituality about Buckley.” – Robin Williams
“Buckley was the first of the flower children.” – Stuart Whitman
“You know man, I think Lord Buckley came from the future.” – Robert Weston Smith, aka ‘Wolfman Jack’
“Lord Buckley reached way deep inside.” – Joan Baez
“I’m supposed to be a high sahib of the Beat Generation. I
suppose I’ve been a beatnik all my life, I guess.”– Lord Buckley
“His stuff just became part of my internal dialogue after
listening to it for such a long time at such an impressionable
age. It was just in there.” – James Taylor
“There’s ain’t NO problem that LOVE can’t solve, bebee.” – Lord Buckley
“Dig Infinity! Dig Infinity! Dig Infinity!”
Chants the self-ennobled Lord Buckley;
The pioneer rapper; the jazz philosopher
Who believed that laughter was beauty.
“When you’ve adopted laughter as your religion,
“Your subconscious breathes a purer air.
“When you find yourself laughing, you’re
vibrating love –
“Thinking love and laughter’s your prayer.”
“I came to be a Lord”, he said, “realizing that everyone
“Is a Lord or a Lady for, if the sphere swings free
“In its plumed height, in all its garlanded beauty,
“Then it must have a fantastical basis, you see.”
Known as ‘His Hipness’ he inducted audiences
Into the “Church of the Living Swing”
Where, billed as “the most immaculately hip aristocrat”,
Lord Buckley did his extraordinary thing.
Decades before the sixties’ ‘Summer of Love’
He was performing rapid-fire riffs about Gandhi,
With beatific monologues about the miraculous ‘Nazz’
In which he made Jesus engagingly funny.
In what Buckley christened ‘Einstein’s playground’,
Namely the Milky Way,
Buckley searched for God but instead found “God’s stash!
“A Great Lake of Love holding eternal sway!”
His friends were called the ‘Royal Court’ and dressed from dumpsters,
With each one treated as a prince or princess
By this radical bohemian, and anarchist vaudevillian –H
Everyone was a lord, or a lady or a countess.
Judith Malina of the Living Theatre would speak
Of his “inimitable shtick” and his “unique sound”.
He was “part of a river of concepts and sentiments
‘That turned the whole world around.’
“As to where the source of the new energy was,
“He was a great inspiration:
“He showed that truth was raunchy and nitty gritty,
“And he’d make you say to yourself, “I’m the revolution.”
“Buckley thought the social structure was vicious,
“But showed us how to battle it with the best
“That’s in us, rather than the worst which is in us,
“Which is the violence in all of us that exists.
“He was saying ‘Here’s the best in us which is humor and love:
“‘Use that to defeat the enemy.
“‘Rise above the situation with aplomb and imagination,
“‘And uproarious bursts of divine energy.’”
Buckley started off as an emcee for Chicago
Keeping the shows rolling and audiences happy:
“Bring your beds – stay as long as you like.”
He was chief fun-maker at these human derbies.
Then Buckley would drum up custom for
By his lying in a open coffin on a hearse:
“The body comes alive at the Suzy Q!”
His partner, Red Skelton, would promise.
A free-form jazz comic, he spoke in tongues
With a zany beatnik spontaneity;
Buckley had his own hipsemantic language of ecstasy
To create another, quite other, reality.
“To the people who don’t know,” he’d say,
“To be cool means simply to believe.
“To stay cool is to have the divine fragments of serenity –
He was influenced by Slim Gaillard who made
up his own languages,
Played guitar and piano, tap-danced and wrote songs.
Slim Gaillard was cited by Jack Kerouac in On the Road as “God,”
And, along with John Bubbles, they could both do no wrong.
Buckley explained, “I fell in love with the dialect
“Of the American Beauty Negro.”
It was to give his delivery an old time gospel beat
And to turn him into a countercultural hero –
Who fizzed across the firmament utterly possessed
Of a uniquely free spirit to undermine
The stultifying roadblock of gray, fifties America
With his life enhancing sparkle and shine.
An old static language that didn’t say anything anymore
Couldn’t compare with his syncopated bebop beat
Which took the spoken word and transformed it
Through the living poetry of the street.
In Buckley’s hipsemantic hands, Shakespeare’s
“Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears”
Became “Hipsters, Flipsters and finger-poppin’ daddies,
“Knock me your lobes.”
And the opening lines of Lincoln’s Gettysberg
Address, “Fourscore and seven years ago,
“Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,”
Becomes “Four big hits and seven licks ago,
“Our before-daddies swung forth, upon this sweet groovy land
“A swingin’, stompin’, jumpin’, blowin’, wailin’ new nation.”
And Lincoln’s “conceived in liberty and dedicated
“To the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Becomes Buckley’s “hip to the cool groove of liberty
“And solid sent with the ace lick dat all the studs,
“Chicks, cats and kiddies – red, white, or blue – is created level
“In front. In straight talk, the same! dig what I mean?”
Stiff-necked Lincoln’s ponderous ringing
Of the Liberty Bell
Is transformed into a sonic orgasm of bebop,
As Buckley weaves his zigzag spell.
With each word laden with encoded meanings
Buckley masters the language of the jazz underground:
“Cool” and “dig” and “drag” and “solid” and “gone”
All feature in his euphoric sound.
Bebop music would contain the life-force
Which Buckley re-routed into words,
Tumbling out of his motor mouth like a shaman
To whom reality was for the birds.
“The hipsemantic has such rhythms and
“That I became attracted to it”, Buckley said
“But I almost starved to death presenting this type of humor
“Because at an audience of eighty, there would be
“About fifteen that understood what I was
saying, “But I could not let go of it.
“The powers are so great that come out of it, you dig?
“Phew! I’m as high as a goose in full flight.”
He’d jam with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
Who were drawn to his magical flights.
Dizzy Gillespie celebrated his infectious musicality
“What I liked about him was the way he could recite.”
And Gillespie was to reprise Buckley’s jazz riffs,
“Such as, ‘They get on magnabuttasiteminyoumakcattabare wa! …’”
And he’d say of “the Wordman from Wordland with multiple minds”
“He was doing rap and scat before anybody.”
In Buckley’s stage act, in his ‘Hiperama of the Classics’,
Buckley rebooted ancient events and archetypes
And with his machine-gun tongue explored the meaning of life
While sharing his most passionate likes…
In Lord Buckley’s retelling of Jonah and the Whale:
“The Great Lord was sitting in his rosy rocking chair
“One hallelulah morning when he spied a little mortal beside the great sea…”
And from then on Buckley’s audience was ensnared.
William Shakespeare is “Willie the Shake”;
Einstein surfaces as the “Hip Einie”;
Edgar Allen Poe’s the Raven is retold as “The Bugbird”
And the “Hip Gahn” celebrates Gandhi
In “The Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade”
He outrages the bourgeois and the humdrum:
De Sade “takes right off through the mother primeval”
Rejoicing in his wickedness, and a steel rectum.
“I’m the baddest cat in this world” says the Marquis,
“There ain’t nothing I ain’t done.
“I’m a cross-loader and a hanger-upper and a slip-slider.”
“But I made every bad move for fun!”
Then Buckley would soar up from the gutter
To embrace Shakespearean heights.
“You know why they called this cat ‘Willie the Shake?’
Buckley asked his audience as he changed into tights.
“…Because he…. SHOOK everyone. They gave that cat
“Five cents worth of paper and a nickel’s worth of ink
“And he sat down and wrote up such a breeze
“That when he got through – vrrppptt – everybody got off!”
Buckley’s Nero was a terminally indulgent greed-head
Who stood for every corrupt robber-baron:
“He get his kick warehouse so full of kicks
“He can’t get no more kicks in.”
Then Buckley would interrupt himself with salty asides:
“Let me hip you to something, brothers and sisters,
“When you make love, MAKE IT!
“Oh, some of you brothers and sisters….
He was nothing if not direct.
He’d preface his performance of ‘The Nazz’
By announcing, “I’m gonna put a cat on you was the coolest,
“Grooviest, sweetest, wailingest, strongest,
“Swinginest cat that ever stomped on this jumpin’ green sphere.
“And they call this hyar cat…the Nazz.”
In his classic routine he retells the three miracles
Most associated with Christ’s fame:
“So the Nazz and his buddies was goofin’ off down the boulevard
“When they run into a little cat with a bent frame.”
“So the Nazz put the golden eyes of love
“On this here little cat with the bent frame
“And he look right down into the windows of the little cat’s soul
“And say to the little cat, he say ‘STRAIGH-TEN!’
“Zoom-Boom! Up went the cat like an arrow
“And everybody jumpin’ up and down
“Say, ‘Look what the Nazz put on that boy.
“You dug him before. Re-dig him now.”
Next the Nazz and his boys get into the middle ofthe water
And “Wham Boom the waves hit their boat
“And the lightnin’ flashin’ and the thunder roarin’
“And these po’ cats thinking every minute
“Gonna be the last when one cat look up
“And Here come the Nazz!
“Cool as anyone you ever seen,
“Right across the water: stompin’!”
Lastly Buckley has the Nazz feeding five thousand people
So they can have “a glorious, swingin’ Mardi Gras time.
“Oh sweet swingin’ flowers of the field” the Nazz says,
“Dig Infinity! And they dug it and when they did, ‘Whamm!!!’
“There was a great flash of thunder-lightnin’ hit the scene.
“Cats looked down: in one hand
“There was a great big stuffed sweet smoked fish
“And in the other a long gone crazy loaf
“Of that southern homemade honey tastin’
ever-lovin’ sweet bread.
“Why these po’ cats flipped!
“Nazz never did nothing simple.
“When he laid it, he laid it.”
The hipsematic theology was very seductive:
“The Nazz, the carpenter kiddy,
“Was turning these other kiddies on through his eyes,
“So they could see everything pretty too.”
Lord Buckley had a portrait of Jesus Christ,
“To Lord Buckley from your buddy cat J.C.”
His explanation for his autographed portrait being
That, “He would have been my buddy, you see.”
The Nazz was such a popular success
Buckley couldn’t allow him to rest
But brought him back for the Second Coming with the punch line,
“Jesus Christ! It’s Jesus Christ!”
Henry Miller knew Buckley and used to tell him
“You take us back to the fountain of ecstasy.
“You must have drunk from the Holy Bottle that Rabelais
“Speaks of – the eau de vie of the gods, the elixir.”
Buckley’s elixir was described as being made up of Love Nectar
Mixed with salutary doses of Truth Serum,
And then, after the Whammy Of All Word
Whammys, his audiences
Looked as if they’d no idea what had hit them.
To Cory Doctorow, Buckley’s “ indispensible biography
“Of Jesus is all the Christmas cheer anyone needs.
“With this alone, we could rebuild civilization from rubble.”
Through his comedy Buckley could sow radical seeds.
Buckley believed that war was “the very worst jazz ever blown”
He’d call any marine in his audience “a shithead”.
The zen jester berated armed men for their slavish uniformity
Without seeming to care if he ended up dead.
Again, when performing at Slapsie Maxie’s, he took some fur coats
From a group of Capone’s gangster molls.
He poured lighter fuel on them, centre stage,
Igniting them just to show he had balls.
Al Capone had once said that Lord Buckley
Was “the only man who made him laugh”
But Buckley resented the patronage of a violent crook
And said, “I refuse to bow to the golden calf.”
He’d tell audiences “You all have too much money
“And you don’t know what to do with it.”
To Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, he was “a Holy Man.
“He was a seeker. Lord Buckley was the hipster of the heart.”
To Garcia, he was “that guy that’s not a stand-up comedian
“But instead is like a medicine man,
“With that kind of power, it’s an elemental experience.”
Garcia would call Buckley a shaman.
Utterly fearless Lord Buckley often threatened
To blow his career for the sake of a joke:
The cigarettes he smoked on stage were fatter than normal,
And it’d amuse him to offer policemen a toke.
On one occasion he walked up to a cop
While smoking a joint of marijuana
“Officer” he said, “I want to report a dopeaddict.”
“That gentleman,” Buckley said in a whisper
And he’d indicate an innocent passer-by:
“Be very careful he’s watching us”,
He’d warn the cop, then take a drag on his smoke
And blow it right in the lawman’s face.
Buckley aligned spiritual awareness with the weed
And indeed his Jonah smokes “the strange green vine”
In order to regain his composure inside the whale’s belly
While working out how to escape its confines.
“’Reach into your water-tight pocketbook’,
“The Great Lord would say to Jonah,
“’And take some of the cigarettes you got from the great tree.
“’And courage will return to you!’”
So in Buckley’s retelling, Jonah’s inside the whale
Smoking this strange cigarette:
“And the pistons pound, and POOM, he pushes on the great valve,
“That’s directly linked to his head:
“Oooooowwwhhh ooooooh ‘spanding
“And eeeeeeeeh ouuuooow expanding!”
“Oooooowwwhhh ooooooh ‘spanding
“And eeeeeeeeh ouuuooow expanding!”
Jonah’s now stoned and he spins every wheel
In the great whale’s engine room
And the whale says “What is you is smoking down there?”
And Jonah revs up the whale-mobile, ‘Vrooom!’ Vroom!’
Then Jonah escapes by “seizing the mammal’s full-speed-ahead lever”
Steering the Leviathan into shallow water,
Then he pokes its gigantic “sneezer-meter” and he is blown out
Through its blow-hole onto “the cool groovy sands of serenity.”
At Crackerbox Palace, Buckley’s Temple ofHappiness,
Buckley would greet visitors entirely naked:
“I worship people,” he’d say, “people are likeflowers,
“And to be nude in their garden is sacred.”
Buckley even appeared on stage naked as a jay
Save for a straw hat, tap shoes and a cane.
He’d serenade the audience with scratchy old 78s,
Saying, “Beloveds, welcome to Cloud Nine.”
In Buckley’s world there were no lower classes,
And everyone was entitled to be royal.
In his pantomime parodies of hierarchy
His euphoria was infectiously joyful.
To be stewards of each other’s happiness
Was how Buckley understood nobility
And for one man to lord it over another
Would only make for hostility.
George Harrison used the name of Buckley’s bat-board shack
For a place where you “know love is true”
And in his song ‘Crackerbox Palace’, Harrison too has a court
Who all sing, “know the Lord is well and inside of you”.
In a dream sequence Buckley enters the Beatle’s palace
And at the end of Harrison’s tribute to his genius
He implies that, somewhere, the late Lord is still happy
In a new, and a heavenly Crackerbox Palace.
Lord Buckley ended up with nothing and left little behind
Save what he caught while fishing in rivers of light.
He’d dance stoned on car roofs and denounce capitalism
And Empires, ancient and modern, as being not right.
After a trombone fanfare the ultimate corrupt politician
Approaches the microphone: Governor Slingwell Slugwell
(Aka Lord Buckley), announces “My Friends I would like to say
“Things are going beautifully. I just bought three oil wells
“The Rolls Royces are running to perfection.
“Last week I bought the waterworks.
“I’ve had the gasworks for quite some time
“And as things are going at such a magnificent rate
“I believe it is possible for every employee
“In this great state to receive a substantial raise in salary
“Amounting to (Trombone fanfare) Pam-pam, pam-pam.
Roopety, boopety, boop, ba-boop, a roop, baboop,
a roop, Ba-boop. Roopety, boopety, boop… (Trombone
In a routine called ‘Black Cross’ Buckley explored
The blind hatred of a lynch mob’s nature:
Hezekiah Jones who was as “black as the soil he was hoeing”
Didn’t believe in anything from “the white man’s preacher.”
“You don’t believe in nothing!” roared the white man’s preacher
“Oh yes Ah does” said old Hezekiah
“Ah believe that a man should be beholding to his neighbor
“Without the hope of heaven or the fear of hell’s fiah”
“But you don’t understand” sneered the white man’s preacher
“And they hung Hezekiah as high as a pigeon
“And the nice folks around said, “well he had it comin’
“Cause the son of a bitch didn’t have no religion.”
In the Hip Gahn Buckley adopts Gandhi’s persona
And relishes taking on the British Lion:
The Lion is eating India out of house and home
And only Gandhi can keep the Lion in line.
“Ya see India was bugged wid da Lion.
“Every time India gets a little scoff in the cupboard,
“WHAM! Here comes the Lion. Chomp! Swoop the scene
“And there stand the poor Indians, scoffless…bugged them to death.”
Unfortunately for the Lion, the Hip Gahn comes to the rescue:
It’s on a day that the Lion is ““Scoffin’ up an insane breeze.
“He was into the scoff patch up to his shoulders; so the Hip Gahn back away
“About thirty or forty feet, and he holds out his arms cool-wise…
“And he do a running broad jump — MAAP!
“Whapped on the Lion’s tail so hard
“That the Lion swooped the scene
“And that gassed India – it gassed them.”
With the British Crown out of the way Buckley has India –
In order to unite its brand new nation –
Staging a mega concert for Gandhi, a counterfactual alternative
To the horrors of partition and famine.
Buckley’s whimsical scenario brings together every musician
Coming to celebrate the end of oppression:
“Even the snakes in the jungle picked up on the lick
And come stompin’ in for the session.”
It’s a feast of thanksgiving for Gandhi the guruhero,
“He of the love-beaming spectacles and clean white dhoti”;
A gentle, loving and a humble soul who responds only
With soft answers overflowing with spiritual plenty.
Buckley concludes, “And the Hip Gahn say, baby
“When I hear them rabadee players, the dingdong players,
“And them blute-blute players, and the flipheads
“And the luteheads and the reedheads,
“And all these boys wailin’ up such an insane love breeze
“It brought to me the beauty, and the mysticism
“And the wonder, and the gorgeous theme, and the gorgeous wising,
“And all the great non-stop etherea that is Mother India.”
In the Hip Einie Buckley describes an experiment
Showing how gravity can deflect light:
A solar eclipse in Africa has been photographed
Thus proving that Einstein was right.
Buckley calls this the “unveiling of the Big Heater”
By which he signifies the sun,
And he goes on to extol Einstein and to take a peek
Into the workings of Einstein’s brain:
“Einie delegated his subconscious mind and proceeded
“To lay back into the longest goof in the history of the far out wig stretch.
“He goofed throughout the Zonesphere and the Vautesphere
“And the Rotesphere and the Hippisphere
“And the Flippisphere and the Zippisphere
“And the Gonesphere and the Way-Gonesphere.
“He was way out there.
“As a matter of fact he was so far gone, he was
so far out,
“That when he returned and cooled and dug
“What he brought back with him, he flipped!
“When his book hit the streets,
“It hit the Spaceheads pretty hard.”
After Buckley had explained Einstein in Hipsemantic
And made relativity easy to understand,
Einie was pronounced, “King of all Spaceheads”
By the prototypically Beatific Bard.
Lord Buckley was a revolutionary comic,
Born way ahead of his time,
Pro civil rights, anti-imperialist, and a giant
To whom being without vision was a crime.
“Here’s a torch for the world,” he’d declare,
“We have the blocks to make up the mosaic of life –
“The dream – a beautiful, warm, unendingly delightful
“Schematic of living. This, beloveds, is the truth.”
In Buckley’s retelling of the story of Scrooge,
A series of ghosts in Dickens’ Christmas yarn,
Show the miser how the world likes to stop once a year
To celebrate the Brotherhood of Man.
“The spook shows that the cats who ain’t got nothin’
“Got something anyway and they’re all jumpin’ for joy,
“Singing ‘Merry Christmas’ and the bells is ringin’…
“’Now you’, the Ghost turns on the wretched Scrooge,
“‘You get your self straight and see how things will jump. Now come with me.’
“So they fly over to Cratchet’s place”,
To Scrooge’s hapless clerk who’s allowed just one day off
By his “skinflint boss cat with his big money mind”,
“And here is little Tiny Tim” (poor Cratchit’s sickly kid),
“And it’s Christmas and they looking down at this goose
“About the size of a beat-up re-tarded sparrow
“And everybody is Oohing and Aahing over this little goose
“And they say when are we going to spread it?
“And then Tiny Tim says ‘God Bless everyone,
‘Even up and including old Scroogey Scrooge!
‘God bless everyone.’
“And old Scrooge got red eyes.
“Boom! In comes another spook, a long angular spook.
“He looks like seventeen long angular stove pipes
“Come together with jingle jangle bells all over.
“Boom! – they are in a graveyard – wooooo – a
wild – wooooo – crazy spooky graveyard!
“And old Scrooge is walking around and
“Suddenly something stepped out at him
“Like it was stuck in front of his eyes
“Like with some sort of electronic pitchfork.
“And he reads one of them billboards in thegraveyard.
“It says: ‘This is Scrooge, the baddest cat that ever lived.
“’He ain’t had nothin’, he won’t have nothin’
“’And he ain’t got nothin’ now. Period.”
But then Scrooge gets to see the light:
He has his eyes opened by the three Ghosts.
He’s redeemed by their revelations and is given
A new life of which he makes the most.
“For Buckley’s alchemicalization of the old meanie,
“His Lordship drew the life-enhancing moral:
“You can get with it if you want to: there’s only one way –
“Straight to the road of love.”
Buckley was unique in his early opposition to the H-Bomb
And a Cold War that threatened to leave the world dead:
“Those dirty, lousy, miserable, rotten politicians.
“Those thieving monsters. Those greedheads.
“Look what they’ve done to this beautiful city!
“Look at these streets! Those rotten foul-headfreaks.
“Death to them…” This was what he imagined himself saying
After an Armageddon caused by the State’s geeks. from salon.
“I, in humility, say ‘It is the duty of the humor
“Of any given nation in times of high crisis to attack
“The ca-tastrophe that faces it in such a manner
“That they do not die before they get killed.”
“So I figure I’m going down to the banktomorrow
“With a couple of trucks and take out a few bales
of fifties – “Maybe a billion dollars – and I’m going to start
“A gigantic program over the television, over the radio
“In the newspapers, in the funny papers, call the people
“Who have anything to do with humour and I’m going
“To start a big, elongated eight month campaign
“Against the mother gasser of all time: THE BOMB.
“A great spear of humor against the bomb –
“Rippity-tib-zib-tib and a ring ding ding against the Bomb.
“All kinds, all ways, all slides, all sides against the Bomb.
“A great big, elongated program through the air,
“By the billboards, by little ones, by big ones
“Till eventually you mention H-Bomb to someone
“You say H-Bomb and they say Ha! and Ha! And Ha!
“And you’ll see that you’re laughed out of court.
In Buckley’s routine ‘The Flight of the Saucer’ he becomes
The Flying Saucer Commander Abba Dabba Foo,
Pleading with planet Earth to consider the consequences
Of opening a Pandora’s Box of nuclear goo.
Lord Buckley’s stage costume of a tan pith helmet,
Curly ended slippers hung with silver bells,
Black swallowtail coat and waxed moustache like Dali
Turned him into a Pied Piper leading America out of hell.
He railed against the spread of supermarkets saying,
“I wish I had the nerve to be a great thief.”
“We have gotta knock out the greed heads!”
To him consumer slavery beggared belief.
The needle-sharp points of his white moustache
Were like antennae seeking out the outrageous.
“There ain’t NO problem that LOVE can’t solve.” was his motto
And his emanations of wellbeing were contagious.
He believed that life was subject to divine intervention,
Proved by the flare of the senses in a kiss,
And his advice to every citizen of the world,
From two to toothless, was “Follow your bliss.”
“Once you catch the theme of the beam of the invisible edge
“Then, beloveds, you hit total simplicity,
“And all of the feral truths that carry on way beyond
“The parallel of your practiced credulity!”
After a night under the stars exploring inner space,
Aboard what he called ‘The Good Ship Lovely Soul Detonator’,
Buckley concluded that, “the sky showed a shifting, revealing infinity”
And that “one message came to me with great positivity:
“That there’s only one way to live. That is, live in a house of love.
“That’s right, the universe is a house of love
“You can’t walk out of a love house with a sword or a gun
“There’s none in there to come out with.
“You have to come with a flower.
“If attacked, defend yourself with a rose.
“There’s no other way to live –
“The stars beamed it into me – except by love.
“The star-flashed message stayed with me
And buoyed up my soul
“As I came down from the sky.”
He’d re-enter the world after a toke on God’s stash
Eager for the world to share in his high.
But Buckley’s great love wasn’t limited to human beings
As is evidenced by his party piece, God’s Own Drunk:
In which the man described as “a Fred Astaire of the tongue dance”
Speaks instead in mind-blowing grunts.
“I’d like to do a little creative wig bubble for you
“Called ‘God’s Own Drunk.”
“When asked to guard my brother-in-law’s illegal still
“My claim to be a non-drinker got sunk:
“That big old yellow moon was a hanging out there
“And God’s lanterns were hanging in the sky.
“My curiosity got the better of me and that yellow whiskey –
“That moonshine – went down like honeydew, and made me fly!
“I felt a revolution going through my body
“Like there was great neon signs a-goin’ up
“An’ sayin’ There’s a Great Life a Comin’ –
“Suddenly I’d fallen in love with everything
“In God’s sweet world that moved, lived, didn’tlive,
Animate, inanimate, black, blue, green, pink, and slam dunk!
Mountains, fountains, and golden double-good sunshine,
“I was in love with life, ‘cause I was DRUNK!!
“I wasn’t fallin’ down, slippin’ slidin’ drunk.
“I was GOD’S OWN DRUNK! A fearless man.”
And as a result Lord Buckley bonds with a bear
In an ecstatic, trans-species communication.
“I walked right on up to that bear, because
“I was God’s Own Drunk and I loved everything
“In this world. And he’s a sniffin’. He’s tryin’ to
“Smell some fear. But he can’t do because I’m
“God’s Own Drunk and I’m a fearless man.
“He expects me to do two things: flip or flee.
“I don’t do either. Hangs him up. I told him,
“I said, ‘I’m God’s Own Drunk and I love every hair
“’On your twenty-seven acre body.
“’I’m a fearless man!’ I reached up
“And took the bear by the hand.
“I said Mr. Bear, we’re both beasts when it
comes right down to it.”
“Took him right by his big, old, shaggy man island sized paw
“And said “You’re going to be my buddy, Buddy Bear.
“And pretty soon he started to sniff and snort.
“Tapped his foot. And he got up and started to do the Bear Dance.
“Two sniffs, three snorts, a half-turn and one grunt.
“We was dancin’ and a yellin’ and finally, my love –
“It upped and got so strong that I laid back on that sweet green hill
“With that big, old buddy Bear’s paw right in
mine and I went to sleep.”
In Buckley’s pantheistic world, “Everything isalive.
“Everything has an embodied soul. Everything is of worth.
“Everything is beautiful. Everything is God.
“Everything is you – and you’re the king of the earth.”
“The problem of humanity, of progress, is to be beautiful;
“To be more gracious, more sweet, more divine.
“And when you balance yourself, the truth is that the world’s a family –
“Then love will hit you. Love is swinging. Love is fine.”
Before Buckley finally stepped off the stage
He uttered a last benediction:
“It has been a most precious pleasure to have temporarily
“Strolled in the garden of your affection.”
For his re-routing American culture (and not paying police bribes)
Buckley had his cabaret licence withdrawn
Which meant that, thanks to the NYPD, he couldn’t work
And thus his end was undeservedly forlorn.
His sad fate led to a public campaign against the police
For their depriving him of his cabaret card:
They were seen as having destroyed a clown prince
And were roundly condemned as fucktards.
To Buckley the dives he worked in were, “atomic age cathedrals”
Built on the “seashores of Bohemia”
Where all malice was transcended with moral miracles in jive slang
And his advice to fans, “You have courage, great warrior!”
Joseph Jablonski, who took a trip with Buckley,
Described “the spirit of the sixties as preexisting
“In Lord Buckley’s aggressive, optimistic humour,
“Optimism being a colourless way of describing
“The brilliant dialectical gold rays the one and only
“Lord of Swing could direct to the blind apostles
“Of nineteen fifties-style miserabilism.”
Beside Lord Buckley, America was a fossil.
Was he mysteriously be-twinkled by timetraveling goblins
From the utopian sixties?
The tutelary spirit of idealistic and free-loving
Hippy, peacenik pixies?
Both Allen Ginsberg and Quincy Jones loved Buckley
For the purity of his attitude,
And for establishing the idiom for both rap and the Beats –
At their best, both quests for beatitude.
His daughter spoke of his saintliness,
And of his “insights into lives and souls.
“He had kindness and compassion and never put people down.
“I might look at someone and say ‘what an asshole’
“But my father would always soften my prejudice by saying,
“ ‘Well, he’s just not himself today’!
“Sure, he could identify the negative in people,
“Though to use it against them? – no way.”
“Did I say all?” asks Buckley in ‘Desolation Angels’
Just before dying, according to Kerouac
Who’s bewailing, “This modern America of crew-cuts
“And sullen faces in Pontiacs.”2
“No matter what people tell you,” said Robin Williams,
“Words and ideas can change the world. It’s true.
“There was an old crazy dude who used to live a long time ago.
“His name was Buckley. My Lord, my love goes with you.”
The deck may have been stacked against Buckley
In his card game with the cops
Yet his legacy’s avoided capture, and without his hip
There’d never have been any hip-hop.
He showed the mind could be expanded by
Words that give you a buzz and a blast
And prompt what he describes as “wig bubbles”,
Buckley’s hip phrase for thoughts.
Lord Buckley’s obituarist wrote that “The Lord of Flip Manor,
“Prophet of the Hip and Royal Holiness of the Far Out, has gone
“To his reward. It probably won’t be as swinging as his life,
“But Valhalla will have a hard time keeping him down.”
“It is difficult”, the writer adds, “for anyone who knew Buckley
“To think of him as dead and gone.
“It is more like he has been on an extended engagement in Reno
“And he can’t get back to town.”
When interviewed by Studs Terkel in Chicago
Shortly before Lord Buckley died,
Terkel was concerned that the audience
Who’d tuned in were fully prepared:
“Just remember,” Terkel said, “what he has to say makes sense
“In it’s own strange and unique way.”
“Take it easy but take it! That’s my sign off.”
Were Buckley’s last words after having his say. Lord Buckley
Lord Buckley is still audible through the aether
Where this mercurial comic’s vitalizing words
Are forever impregnated with his fairy-tale humor –
Mightier than both the pen, and the sword.
~ ~ ~
With grateful acknowledgments to Oliver Trager; David Amram; Jim Burns, ‘Beat Scene’; Albert Goldman; Wavy Gravy; Timothy White; Paul Krassner; Joseph Jablonski; City Lights Books; Jack Foley; Malcolm Ritchie; Ian A. Anderson; Chris Radant; Douglas Cruickshank, and to P. St. G. who first introduced me to this non pareil.