Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Discovering the best worst band ever

I read a discussion on a mommy blog somewhere about whether or not parents should force children to go to college.

Personally, I think forcing an adultish child to go to college is a bit fruitless. But what about other endeavors? Say, would you force your children to start a band?

What about if your superstitious mother had a premonition that you would have daughters that were in a band? Then would make your kids quit high school and start taking voice and instrument lessons?

Yeah, me neither. But that's exactly what Austin Wiggin Jr. did in the late 1960s.

In order to fulfill his mother's prophecy, he took three of his daughters, Dot, Betty and Helen, out of school and insisted they spend their days and nights practicing music and doing calisthenics.

They wrote songs and played gigs at the town hall and local nursing home for several years. Austin even used the family's savings to have the girls record an album titled “Philosophy of the World.”

When Frank Zappa heard that record, he claimed they were better than the Beatles. And even Kurt Cobain listed this girl-band as a major influence on his music.

So who was this band?

The Shaggs, of course.

Yeah, I had never heard of them either until this week when I saw this pictures:

I was immediately intrigued by this girl band from the 1960s of which I’d never heard, but served as inspiration to some serious musicians. Upon doing some web research, I came upon this article by Susan Orlean. It’s a thorough history of the three sisters from Fremont, New Hampshire.

I find the story compelling, not just because when I listen to their music, I find it atonal, awkward and well, … just plain bad, but because many who are involved with outsider music, they find the off-beat, tone-deaf sounds of the three young girls to be epic.

Being in a girl band (uh, I mean, a mostly, all-girl band), I am always looking to be inspired by other female musicians. I believed since I could do it, anyone could. Then l I listened to The Shaggs’ Who Are Parents?

Knowing that these girls practiced day in and day out, playing Saturday-night, town-hall gig after Saturday-night, town-hall gig and yet they could never synch the drums and guitar makes me believe that some prophecies are better left unfulfilled.

1 comment:

Becky said...

That's an awfully depressing story. Very interesting though.