My Friend BuzzyPosted: March 3, 2010
UPDATE: Since I wrote the piece below, some of Buzzy’s music has been cleared for sale by download early in the New Year. His health continues to be poor, and he is still in need of help, but he seems a lot happier and has friends close by and his circumstances seem to be a lot more comfortable
3rd of March marks the birthday of my dear friend Buzzy Linhart. If you don’t know who he is watch the above video
Buzzy and I have been close friends since August 2008 when a mutual contact asked me to telephone him. This contact had related to Buzz what a huge fan I was, and reminded him of a previous correspondance that he and I had had around the year Y2K when I had bought some very rare albums from him direct, as I could get them nowhere else.
Buzzy and I hit it off spectacularly well; not that surprising really, as I had been a major fan since I was 17 years old and recalled his music even from when I was about ten.
We ended up talking every day for about a year until the proxy dialler I had been using stopped working on his line and I could no longer afford to call so often. Even so, when I do call it’s still just as wonderful, none of the warmth has disappeared from the friendship.
What can I say about Buzz? Well, probably a lot more than some would like me to say. I see a dear friend suffering daily in pain from his severe glaucoma and degenerated leg joints, who has barely minimal resources to support him in old age and ill health, who has suffered separation from family and friends, who has been robbed and cheated and taken every advantage of.
Much of his catalogue of great songs has been as good as stolen from him, and now others reap the rewards of his labours. The rights were lost when Buddah Records went out of business and now a lot of the assets of that company moulder, pretty much forgotten, in the vaults of Sony BMG, amongst others
Linhart is a national treasure. His wealth of crazy stories are like a Who’s Who of the 60’s counter culture. He knew everybody, Hendrix, Dylan, Carly Simon.. everyone, seriously..and now he is passed over and forgotten; an old near-blind and disabled man, frightened in his own home, wondering if the next person knocking at the door will help him or attack him and steal from him.
All the same, Buzz is still a crazy character and just listening to him makes me think that if only he had more reliable people around him he could make so much more of his somewhat beleaguered situation through public speaking etc. I tried to talk to our mutual contact about my concerns about Buzzy’s health and well-being and was pretty much asked to mind my own business. Buzzy however was of the opinion that this person was not particularly interested in his well being, just in preserving the legend rather than the man himself
I think Buzzy’s lyrics are remarkably prescient of his hardships and suffering, and yet at the same time, they are searingly innocent and optimistic in many ways. There is the distinct ghost of the carefree hippy era present. The music speaks for itself, in a big way. I hope you have time enough to really listen. It’s mostly a happy vibe. My friend is a forgotten genius, and I personally don’t feel that is hyperbole.
I asked Buzz once what was his favourite song he had written, and he chose one of my own favourites “There It Goes Again” which, he told me was written at the height of the campaign against Draft dodgers when NYC Subway employees used to delight in misdirecting any long-haired hippy types off in the wrong direction and sending them off into the ghettoes, potentially to get mugged and beaten.
Buzz said he wrote the song after this had happened to him several times already that day, and he sat weeping on the station platform. He was an invalid veteran, not a dodger, which makes it even more poignant. Hearing this story certainly added a spectacular new dimension to a song I have personally delighted in for the last twenty-six years.
I know he is still a darling of the Medical Marijuana brigade, and he is very interested and vocal in a lot of issues about food and nutrition. Buzz is a sublimely eccentric and off the wall character, and I am sure to a lot of people he may seem like a complete flake, and an inconveniently awkward old bugger.
But I fucking love that guy so much, and it makes me happy to say I’m pretty certain he likes me right back..
And who wouldnt be proud of a friend like this??