Songs in the Key of Z  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Songs in the Key of Z is the title of a book and two compilation albums written and compiled by Irwin Chusid. The book and albums explore the field of what Chusid coined as "outsider music". Chusid defines outsider music as; "crackpot and visionary music, where all trails lead essentially one place: over the edge." Chusid's work has brought the music of several leading performers in the outsider genre to wider attention. These include Daniel Johnston, Joe Meek, Jandek and Wesley Willis. In addition, his CDs feature some recordings by artists who produced very little work but placed their recordings firmly in the outsider area. Notable amongst these are nursing home resident Jack Mudurian who sings snatches of several dozen songs in a garbled collection known as Downloading the Repertoire and the obscure and extreme scat singer Shooby Tayler AKA 'The Human Horn.'


The compilation albums

Songs in the Key of Z - the Curious Universe of Outsider Music, the companion compilation albums to Chusid's book were released on Which? Records, the first volume originally in 2000, with the two volumes later combined together and released by Cherry Red. The collections, compiled by Irwin Chusid, include performances by gay country singer Peter Grudzien, African-American schoolteacher B. J. Snowden, and Swedish Elvis-impersonator Eilert Pilarm, along with better-known artists such as Daniel Johnston, The Shaggs, Joe Meek, and Captain Beefheart. The collections have drawn criticism from some quarters, with Alvin Dahn's wife unhappy with his inclusion in an 'outsider music' compilation, and B. J. Snowden also unhappy with the categorization.

Track listing

Vol. 1

1. Philosophy of the World - The Shaggs
2. Walking the Cow - Daniel Johnston
3. Walking On The Moon - Lucia Pamela
4. Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere - Peter Grudzien
5. Downloading the Repertoire (Excerpt) - Jack Mudurian
6. Stout-Hearted Men - Shooby Taylor, The Human Horn
7. In Canada - B.J. Snowden
8. Jailhouse Rock - Eilert Pilarm
9. Virgin Child of the Universe - Song Poem
10. Rock N' Roll McDonalds - Wesley Willis
11. Telstar (Demo) - Joe Meek
12. At the Grass Roots - Sri Darwin Gross
13. Cousin Mosquito #1 - Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker
14. El Touchy - Luie Luie
15. Standing in a Trash Can (Thinking About You) - Legendary Stardust Cowboy
16. Vampire Suite - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
17. Butterfly Mind - Arcesia
18. They Told Me I Was a Fool - Jandek
19. Baby, Your Love's in Town - "Dusty Roads" Rowe
20. True Love - Tiny Tim With Miss Sue

Vol. 2

1. Lift Every Voice & Sing - Shooby Taylor
2. You're Out of the Computer - Bingo Gazingo & My Robot Friend
3. America - B.J. Snowden
4. You're Driving Me Mad - Alvin Dahn
5. Cousin Mosquito # 2 - Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker
6. I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) - The Space Lady
7. Touch of Light - Luie Luie
8. Curly Toes - Unknown
9. Stepping High Dance - Eddie Murray
10. 5 Ft. 9 1/12 Inches Tall - Dick Kent
11. Recitation About Roy Acuff - Gary Mullis
12. Deep Bosom Woman - Wayne
13. High Speed - Bob Vido
14. Herma, Scene 5; Recitation/An - Thoth
15. Jet Lady - Tangela Tricoli
16. Birthmark Story - Buddy Max
17. Heart of the Heartland - Mark Kennis

Further reading

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Songs in the Key of Z" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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