From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Digging Infinity! with Lord Buckley

_Dig Infinity!: The Life and Art of Lord Buckley_ by Oliver Trager (NY: Welcome Rain Publishers, 2001 ISBN 1-56649-157-6) (

I recently read a biography of Lord Buckley, the declaimer of "The Nazz," known as a comedian, because I knew "The Nazz" from the late 60s and early 70s and was interested in discovering what else Lord Buckley did. The book comes complete with CD of some of his proto-Beat, hipster raps like "Subconscious Mind" and "Black Cross," a little of "Knock Me Your Lobes," Shakespeare in jive, and, of course, "The Nazz," his hip Gospel.

Turns out Richard "Lord" Buckley was a traveling showman from California who worked Depression Era dance marathons and walk-athons as an emcee and comic and the nightclub and Vaudeville and burlesque circuit in Chicago, Las Vegas, NY, LA, and SF. A self-made aristocrat, he gave himself his own title and gathered a Royal Court around him filled with people he dubbed Prince, Princess, Count, Earl, Sir, Lady...

Lord Buckley believed, "We have to spread love. We've got to. People of this nation have got to learn to be kinder, more gracious. They must rehearse kindness and graciousness with other people. They must do that. They must be more generous. The people who have things who are living next to people who haven't got things should give them some of the things that they have. We have to learn to give more. We have to learn to tighten, to magnetize this nation by love in this coming fight that we're in. We've _got_ to do that. We must do it. We _absolutely_ must. The government cannot do everything. The people must help. And they can help it by rehearsing love for each other."

"Rehearsing love for each other" where "love is the international understanding that each and every one of us have exactly the same problems to fight," and where God is love, as well as people:

"I went out looking for God the other day and I couldn't pin him. So I figure if I couldn't find him I'd look for his stash: his Great Lake of Love that holds the whole world in gear. And when I finally found it I had the great pleasure of finding that people were the guardians of it. Dig that. So, with my two times two is four, I figured that if people were guarding the stash of love known as God then, when people swing in beauty, they become little Gods and Goddesses. And I know a couple of them myself personally and I know you do too."

Buckley not only spun the Gospel his own way but he also told other Bible stories like "Jonah and the Whale," some of Aesop's fables, and the biographies of such people as Einstein and Gandhi. He was a pioneer monologuist and helped develop the comedy record.

He also dramatized the memoirs of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, _The Power Within_. De Vaca was a Spanish explorer who was shipwrecked in Florida and walked through the plains of the Americas for eight years until finally reaching Mexico. De Vaca and his companions survived because of his reputation as a healer. De Vaca wrote, "There is a great power within that when used in beauty, in Immaculate Conception and complete purity can cure and heal and cause miracles.... When you use it, it spreads like a magic garden, and when you do not use it, it recedes from you." Reportedly, De Vaca healed by laying on hands.

Buckley believed that everybody had access to this ability - if they swung in beauty. "All over this world in the alleys and valleys, on the plains, on the mesa, and the mountain top on the plateaus to the sands to the Gulf through the whole scene of this world - black, green, blue, yellow, and pink - there's loaded with _beautiful_ people that we never hear a thing about. We only hear about the winners and the losers and the others. But they're there. And those people are the protectors and progressers of the vaults of love which is known as 'God.' And when you appeal, when you go up a ladder, you go up the ladder and you go up so that you may get your vibrational points spread out so they go round-wise, electronic-wise, and you contact these people and you see their beauty and you hear the voices of the children and you see the sweet swing and the mighty power that's going ahead for greater perfection - for greater individual protection, for greater individual understanding, for greater presentation of the powers of the Garden of Love and contact with these people and - thack! - you could feel burning right in your hand."

One of Lord Buckley's most powerful pieces was "Black Cross" a poem by Joseph Newman, uncle of Paul Newman, about Hezikiah Jones, a black subsistence farmer, who runs afoul of the white man's preacher. He is accused of believing in nothing and responds:

Ah be'lieve that a man should be beholding to his neighbah
Widout the hope of Heaven or de fear o' Hell's fiah."
"But you don't understand," said the white man's preacher,
"There's a lot of good ways for a man to be wicked!"
And they _hung_ Hezikiah 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!"

Can you say son-of-a-bitch on primetime network TV these days?

Buckley thought that religion would be replaced because "the steeples of the churches are too high for holes in the pants of the poor. And the drunk, the sickest and squarest of all, lies too long outside the closed doors without the arms of love to give him or her or it or they surcease, as it is written in every page of The Book." He said, "according to the study of the science of the cycle of design, that there must have been, and is working now, a whole new movement in great public beauty and therapy to take over the delinquencies of the church at _just_ the propitious moment. 

And I found that that is _music_, ladies and gentlemen... music."

Buckley advised fighting injustice with humor: "It is the duty of any given nation in time of high crisis to attack the catastrophe that faces it in such a manner as to cause the people to laugh at it in such a way that they do not die before they get killed." At the same time, "he dug that it made no difference who be in the driver's seat since, no matter who, he be bound to square up - since square be the shape of all driver's seats."

Swing in beauty, cats and kitties, treat each other as the Lords and Ladies we all are, our noblest natures, all "created level in front."

Richard, Lord Buckley always has the last word:

"Well, I would like to say that in my feelings for the people everywhere I've worked, that their wonderful attention, their divine concentration, their precious presence and their attitude to _each_ and _every_ performer on the stage only goes to prove more and more: that the flowers, the beautiful magical flowers are _not_ the flowers of life. That _people... people_ are the true and wonderful flowers of life and it is always a great honor and a great privilege and a rare pleasure to even temporarily stroll into the gardens of their attentions. God swing them and God love them."

Further information at

Labels: , ,