Gary Wilson "You Think You
Really Know Me"
a recent NYTimes Magazine article may have just started
to clue the 'burbs in on "outsider" music, touching
upon the naif magic of Langley School and Daniel
Johnson, as well as plugging the Shaggs movie in the process,
they never once strayed beyond the surface to some of the
true outsiders like Otto Muehl, Cromagnon, Jean Dubuffet
(who contributed to outsider art as well), Jandek, and one
of the catchiest of them all, Gary Wilson.
Of college radio oddities, Wilson's 6.4=Make Out
is a classic, almost reclining on a loungey sound-bed, and
yet the vocal delivery, with its croaky smoothness, does
little to hide the simmering agitation in Wilson's voice.
The juxtaposition scarcely makes any sense, especially when
the noise juts up, and Gary rends cries of "She's real!
God She's so real!" from the blackest part of his head.
It is a frightening experience, delivered with a spastic
sincerity that repeatedly crosses the line between harmless
and deranged. It is a line that the record, You Think
You Really Know Me runs back and forth over repeatedly.
You Think You Really Know Me was originally pressed
in an edition of 200, most of which were given to radio
station drives or were smashed over Wilson's head during
live performances, leaving very few around. It is a record
often whispered or name-dropped by those in the know. And
thanks to Motel Records' lovely reissue, we can understand
why it was always in a low voice.
While a track like "6.4" can elicit a nervous
laughing off, others like "Loneliness," which
wrenches a strangulated whisper of "Sometimes I wish
I was dead," proceeding from there with keyboard stabs
and a very long bit of pouring water and a disconnected
phone, the operator chiming in, the entire mood clenches
up, reaching a rare strain of pop psychosis. It's not the
type of thing you would just throw on for anybody. But then
it wanders aimlessly into Lonnie Liston Smith's room, or
Steely Dan's dirty little closet.
Even after repeated listens (a guilty pleasure for sure)
I remain far from nailing this thing, folks. (This epiphany
is waaay before even entering into the utterly lost trinity
of "You Think You Really Know Me," "Chromium
Bitch," and closer "And Then I Kissed Your Lips.")
As even the most eloquent and vocal of record geeks have
just wound up muttering, defeatedly, "I dunno, it's
just fucked, man."
It is, but the best part is now you can bust out the Saran
Wrap and flour (to mention nothing of sports jackets and
shades) and go see Gary step outside of his daytime lounge
gig (his other job is at a porno shop) for a night at Joe's
Pub on May 15th. This is not to say he never played out.
In fact, the notes to the disc feature an old CBGB flier
from back in Wilson's heyday. Presumably, this rare appearance
has to do with the excellent job Motel Records did of exhuming
Gary Wilson's only record, and putting him back into some
sort of light once thought lost. What it'll reveal decades
later, I'm not sure if I really want to know.