Monday, September 18, 2017

Certain Songs #1000: Lucia Pamela – “Walking on the Moon” | Medialoper

Album: Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela
Year: 1969

Well, of course I’m incredibly proud at having cranked out 1000 of these suckers in a little under three years, but for all that, I’m not nearly as proud as Lucia Pamela was of her magnum opus, 1969’s Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela.

And why not? While she’d done enough noteworthy things in her life to rate an obituary in the New York Times and a Tony Kushner play after she passed in 2002 — not to mention a Stereolab song in the mid-1990s — none of it came close to her major achievement: recording an album on the Moon in the city of Moontown.

That’s why, over a dozen years after the album came out, she had several copies on consignment at the Tower Records in Fresno, a city she’d been living in for much of her life, and she would come almost weekly to see if any had sold. This was a part of the story I didn’t know, but Kirk recounted it for me this past weekend — I wondered if she was also getting punk rock single tips from Dale or Gary or Jeff — as his life was forever altered the moment that Andy gave him a copy.

Every time I take a trip
I’m sure to meet my friends
From the sky, they fly high
This is “hello” from them

As I was walking on the moon
I met a little cow-ow-ow
And this is what she said to me

As smart-ass college students, we all fell in love with Into Outer Space With Lucia Pamela, amazed that someone who was able to record an album on the Moon was also living in Fresno. Which was cool, but so was “Walking on the Moon,” which beat The Police to the same subject by over a decade, and unlike most songs about outer space, it made space seem fun in the same way that Deep Purple did in “Space Truckin’

But neither The Police or Deep Purple would have aimed for Lucia’s retro DIY sound, chock full of jaunty drumbeats, jazzy piano and clarinet, and also a melody that was instantly fresh and catchy. Meanwhile, her lyrics that described her encounters with various Moon people not only looked back to “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,” but looked forward to the BOJACK HORSEMAN universe as she’s having discussions not just with the aformentioned cow, but chickens, cats, dogs and the Rooster King.

As Kirk wrote in his liner notes to the reissue of INTO OUTER SPACE WITH LUCIA PAMELA, he got obsessed, and after a radio station contest where the winner would get $5 a year for life — which would be $175 by now! — Kirk finally discovered where she played bingo, and after convincing the bingo caller to let him ask if any of the players were Lucia Pamela, Lucia shouted “Bingo,” and soon, Lucia was all over KFSR.

For the next year or so, there were promos (“When you’re happy, you’re healthy. And when you’re healthy, you … are … happy!”), many interviews, even “Lucia Pamela in Dub,” all of which Lucia happily and delightfully participated in. And why not? By that time, she was in her 70s, and if people were interested in her art — young people! — all the better.

Fast-forward 35 years, and Lucia Pamela is a household name. Well, at least in Kirk’s household, which she once visited as part of a documentary on her life that sadly hasn’t yet come out.

Maybe someday, it will. Until then, I’m pretty sure that people tuned into Lucia’s frequency will continue to discover INTO OUTER SPACE WITH LUCIA PAMELA and go for their own walks on the moon.


No comments: