In the early 1990s, I became obsessed with Crispin Hellion Glover.
It was not so much his legendary appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, when he (or his alter-ego, Rubin Farr) came close to kicking Dave in the face with his black stacked boots. No, my interest was piqued by both his performance as Layne, the speed-freak in “The River’s Edge,” and his album, “The Big Problem ? The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be.”
The album features spoken word readings from his books “Rat Catching” and “Oak Mot,” but also songs – covers of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Books Are Made For Walking” and Charles Manson’s trippy “Never Say Never To Always,” along with original compositions. It was one such tune that captured my attention and imagination. “Clowny, Clown Clown.” With its carny organ sound, the song and accompanying video which shows a scantily clad woman in a clown mask dancing, then down on all fours, vomiting, the song is disturbing in a David Lynch kind of way. Crispin’s lyrics, nothing special really, stayed with me for years:
“I hate you clown.
Your ugly frown.
Think I’ll clip you across the nose, clown.”
Glover invokes his nemesis, Mr. Farr in the song. He appears in the video as well, high upon a hilltop, long, stringy hair and dressed in his usual bell-bottoms and boots.
What can be made from this disturbing song? Surely it’s a key piece of information in solving “The Big Problem,” a string that supposedly runs through all the songs on the album and that add up to “The Solution.” As the years went by, work, kids and family came and I found I had less time to ponder The Big Problem. That’s probably a good thing.
Epilogue: I once bought some books and a tshirt from Crispin Glover’s publishing company, Volcanic Eruptions. Still in my irresponsible stage, the check I sent bounced. I was home one night in the early evening, when I received a call from the company, alerting me of my errant payment. The caller? Crispin Glover’s mom.
Todd McGovern is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY.