Thanks to David Robson for doing a splendid job sharing the story of legendary sleeptalker (and Torpor Vigil recording star) Dion McGregor!
Michael Preston Barr would have been 89 today. Here’s a fine version (by Blossom Dearie) of a wonderful song he wrote with Dion McGregor.
Try Your Wings
Samuel Andreyev’s Tubular West turned one year old and continued to get prime airplay on shows such as Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (BBC6). Jazzology’s Jean Daniel called it “Un magnifique album de pop contemporaine”—took the world’s right out of my mouth!
The Tubular West: https://samuelandreyev.bandcamp.com/album/the-tubular-west
A successful Kickstarter campaign drew funds towards the CD release of Dreaming Like Mad with Dion McGregor, and drew the attention of NPR’s All Things Considered and USA Today’s Pop Candy. Kickstarter’s Sam Hockley-Smith interviewed me about the project: http://kickstarter.tumblr.com/post/80276920042/sleeptalking-will-never-not-be-weird-its-the
The audio version of Christian Bök’s deservedly famous Eunoia, recorded by TVR and released by Coach House Books, was uploaded for streaming on the Torpor Vigil Soundcloud site: https://soundcloud.com/torporvigil/sets/eunoia-by-christian-b-k-1
Dreaming Like Mad with Dion McGregor was released on July 20th, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first McGregor album from Decca: https://dionmcgregor.bandcamp.com/album/dreaming-like-mad-with-dion-mcgregor
The TVR remastering of that original 1964 album—The Dream World of Dion McGregor—was subsequently released as a free download: https://dionmcgregor.bandcamp.com/album/the-dream-world-of-dion-mcgregor-he-talks-in-his-sleep-remastered-free
The Torporwear department of Torpor Vigil Industries was revived with the release of new t-shirt and tank top designs featuring art by Kerry Zentner and Richard A. Kirk: http://www.torporvigil.com/012TVR/SectorPages/Store.html
Some of the first signs that Dreaming Like Mad would be well-received came in the form of spirited endorsements by Gotye on Twitter and Facebook:
Enthusiastic reviews from USA Today, The Equal Ground, Media Funhouse, Bang the Bore, and The Sound Projector followed.
With all that’s been happening at the label this year, I didn’t really begin flogging the manuscript of my book about Dion’s dream world until this past month. I’m going about it the old-fashioned way: one publisher at a time. After a brief search for an agent, I decided just to push the work (which will include, depending on the edit, up to 200 new transcripts of Dion’s dreams) all by myself. I suspect its future in print will depend on my finding that particular publisher—out there somewhere—who will get a supreme charge off the subject matter (where most might simply raise an eyebrow and/or scratch a noggin). Meanwhile, those of you wishing to find Mr. McGregor in print will have to dish out for rare copies of the 1964 book from Bernard Geis Associates:
My own copy of the Dream World book (to bring these year-end observations full circle) was a gift received long ago from Samuel Andreyev. When Pippa Lambert and I visited Michael Barr at his modest Hollywood apartment in 2005, I got Mike to sign it. Though he hadn’t spoken or transcribed the words, they would never have been captured without him and his tape recorder.
Mike would have been ecstatic to see all the attention this anniversary year has yielded those recordings he made of his old roommate and songwriting partner Dion McGregor. With those two fine gents in mind, and with much gratitude for all the interest and support lavished on my little label these past twelve months, I wish you all a wonderful 2015!
Michael Barr’s dear friend Patrick Ramsey just tweeted this track from Mike’s MySpace page. “The Hate Song”—music by Michael Barr, words by Dion McGregor—is a song I love. Ceil Cabot and Bill Hinnant perform it brilliantly on the 1960 original off-Broadway cast recording of Dressed to the Nines (from Julius Monk’s revue Upstairs at the Downstairs). This came out early on in the somniloquy-recording era of Barr-McGregor, which likely began in 1959, contrary to previous reports.*
* I had stated that Barr’s recording of McGregor’s sleeptalking likely started in 1961. As I recall, Phil Milstein mentioned 1960 as a probably initiation of that phase. While listening yet again to the interview with Dion on the Long John Nebel Show, I heard him say that the recording of his dreams had already been going on for around five years prior to the 1964 release of the Dream World album and book. Mike Barr was never quite sure, during the last decade of his life, exactly when he began recording his roommate and songwriting partner; but given the fact that he and Dion were already sharing a space in the late fifties, it seems probably that the earlier date is closer to historical accuracy.