|Tom Hull's Old Rock Critic Writings|
Ain't Hirth Martinez Wonderful!
I'd heard Hirth Martinez waz a talent. Like John Hiatt, like Kevin Coyne, he waz one of a pack of weirdos my munificent editor dumped on me to sort out. And I did the album had merit -- at least there waz nothin like it in my collection, and sometimez nothin hitz the spot like the totally unique. Still, Hirth From Earth waz kinda weird; not bad weird, nor even unsettling weird, but just kinda alien and elusive. Till the one night I waz lying stoned on the attic floor, stacking queer records in the dark, when the second side of Hirth happened by. And I laughed out loud, and I knew then and there that all waz true, that Hirth From Earth waz easily the second best album of 1975.
Which surprized me no small bit, still I loved it. Though I make no bones about not knowin what sign I waz born under -- I'm proud of it even, and if someone'z so rude az to so inform me I instantly forget -- and I don't buy none of them UFOz either. But I do remember them psychotic gibbonz in the St. Louis zoo tryin to piss on passers-by. And I recall how Linda dug those dayz I walked around with nothin on and not a thing waz hid. Sometimez a little relevance goez a long way.
I've no such tales yet of Hirth's new Big Bright Street album. Which, save "The Star" -- celestial raunch if ever there waz -- took all of three listenings to woo me over. Which goez to show there'z enough rough and uncanny development to force me to adjust a little, and there'z a plentiful helping of Hirth'z inimitable craziness to stay me through.
In fact, craziness is Hirth's schtick, which iz not so much madhouse craziness az hip-inverted sanity, or testing the funky limits thereof. A jazz cop, sorta, and there'z a nice jazzy streak to Hirth, like in the roly-poly swing to Earth'z "Saturday Night," where Hirth iz definitely in the dive. And Big Bright Street is jam packed with crazyz, from "Sometimez ev'rything turns crazy" and "In the middle of the crazy places" to "I believe him but I know he's crazy" and "He waz always driven crazy she waz always callin him a fool." Sometimez it even gets exhortatory: "Lock up the door cause it'z time to get crazy."
But sine the world-is-a-madhouse cliché stuck Hirth'z redundant and almost quaint pet term iz naive and worldly altogether. When he quipz, "I'll bet that the mothman is happy just messin with his flame," he addz, "Then we started laughing like foolz." Hirth dabblez in the trivial az if it were revelatory. Elsewhere he sings, "I take the good and bad and weave them into smilez." Which soundz a bit polyannish, but what could be more blessedly foolish? And what'z more lovely than a madman in the night?
Which leavez Hirth without a moral rebuke, but then he hardly needz one, happy asz he iz just messin with his life. And happy, because he'z uncovered a magic in the music that allowz him to turn hiz own ordinary life into objects of wonder. And, following hiz scenario from "Only in America, Jim," likely hiz luck's gonna change, keeping him rolling along, "Turnin ev'ry song into money." It'z really all quite wonderful. And when you too learn to face the music, you too can start writing like thiss.
This was retyped from a clean manuscript, so it's missing final edits, and I don't have the publication date. Wonder where the clipping is?