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April 13th, 2007

The Original Freak Folk


Charles Manson, known more so for his murderous direction of his followers, than for his musical career and connection to The Beach Boys Dennis Wilson. What finer a day than Friday the 13th to put on your favorite Manson Family album? Today I have two tracks from his now infamous demo tape recorded in 1968 by Phil Kaufman and more commonly known as Lie. What’s most unsettling about them I think occurs after one listens to them. The songs have a sense of hope and sincerity to them and without knowing what was to follow their recording, one could easily mistake them for any other endearing folk artist. Play them for a friend without first telling them who they’re by and I’m sure you’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t think they have nice melodies to them. Having read about the Manson Family murders beforehand, it actually took me a little bit of time before I worked up enough courage to listen to them and once I did I was (begrudgingly) pleasantly surprised. I would never try to make light of the murders he was involved with but try to cast all of that aside for just a moment to give the songs a listen. I find the psychological aspects and deep history to it all fascinating. It’s difficult to say what would of happened if he had been signed instead of rejected by the music industry. To read more about Charles Manson before – and after “The Manson Family” head over to Check out these two tracks from Charles Manson’s album Lie: The Love & Terror Cult

Charles Manson – Home is Where You’re Happy

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Charles Manson – Look at Your Game Girl

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  1. your blog is beautifully written and the selections of music you share are perfect.

    so nice to stumble upon something new and refreshing.

    and… yes, such a good idea to trick friends with the music of manson. strange and say to say, but his music really could have been loved.

    Comment by musicisart — May 1, 2007 @ 5:03 pm
  2. Thanks for sharing the mp3s to the world. I wrote up about your entry in my blog.

    Comment by dementia — May 5, 2007 @ 4:40 pm
  3. Edvard,

    Thank Dementia for directing me here via her Blog, Coffin Conversations…

    I’ll write to you what I wrote to her about Manson:

    What a sad tragic waste of a life full of potential, creativity and raw talent …

    David …

    Comment by David — May 5, 2007 @ 6:08 pm
  4. Dementia is a treasure.

    Comment by Damo — May 6, 2007 @ 12:46 am
  5. mansons a darker leary.. and i love it. and i think devendra looks so much like charles

    Comment by electric I — June 4, 2007 @ 6:36 pm
  6. Being sober about it, the campfire style folk songs are pretty plain and sparsely written. He does have a raw folksy talent but the poverty of too many years in prison has stymied and disfigured it channeling it all into narrowband. His muddy guitar playing really shows a lack of development, a lack of training and practice, and a lack of any serious musical ability beyond family-night karoke around the campfire. I think what shocks people is that given his notorious reputation he can do this at all. But don’t be too generous as its really mediocre. Apparently Hollywood wasn’t impressed either as these recordings are absolutely impoverished and barely audible with zero tonal quality. Didn’t they have tape recorders and tube amplifiers in Hollywood in the late 1960’s? The recordings sound worse and more ameuteurish than if a highschool kid with a pocket tape recorder did them. Heck for the kind of money the family was spending to get high it seems they could have gotten it together to purchase a decent used tape recorder and a few microphones and put a little effort into it. If they were even slightly serious they could have done so much better. They lived with Dennis Wilson and how hard would it have been to use some of his simple home entertainment equipment laying around to do their own recordings. Over all they were totally dysfunctional in the music world, so I have no idea why they blaimed others for their own abysmal efforts. What they have here is no effort, a retarded residue some generously call product, and a musical vacuum. They had no belief in their product and it shows. So why should we? Its a scam.

    Comment by Brian Stewart — July 23, 2007 @ 3:23 am
  7. I think that the songs are interesting and from what I have read the music industry passed on him more for his bizarre and violent behavior than anything else. If he had actually been signed they probably would have propped him up with some studio musicians, but this just wouldn’t have worked out. There would have been fights and violence in the studio (kind of like with the WHO only with a higher body count and less music to show for the grief).

    I guess character is destiny.

    Comment by Ig Glue — November 10, 2007 @ 3:28 am
  8. fucking crazies

    Comment by Lee — February 24, 2008 @ 11:03 pm
  9. “Apparently Hollywood wasn’t impressed either as these recordings are absolutely impoverished and barely audible with zero tonal quality. Didn’t they have tape recorders and tube amplifiers in Hollywood in the late 1960’s?”

    i think mr. stewart altogether misses the intentions, conventions, and tenets of the folk music genre and what it’s all about. some of the most beautiful music is laid down on a single track, spur of the moment. Mr. stewart, really, how many of your favorite musicians are truly ‘talented’? how many ham-fistedly masturbate on their guitars?

    i’m not sayin manson was a great musician, or even a good one, and i’m not neccessarily saying i really enjoy the songs posted above (they are ‘nice’ though). i’m just saying you have missed the point altogether in your myopic rush to discredit this dude.

    Comment by BNDN — March 16, 2008 @ 5:12 pm
  10. Very pleasant tone to his voice. But then again, what did I expect, guttural, angry screams?

    Comment by Charles — March 17, 2008 @ 7:52 pm
  11. marilyn manson used his last name,or I made a mastake?

    Comment by no name — April 11, 2008 @ 3:09 pm
  12. Yes, Marilyn Manson used his last name. When he created his band, he had the members use the first name of a female actress or stripper and the last name of a killer. Thus, Marilyn (Monroe) + (Charles) Manson = Marilyn Manson.

    Comment by Charlotte — April 15, 2008 @ 1:03 pm
  13. charles manson is god

    Comment by doodie — May 28, 2008 @ 5:54 pm
  14. I think the guitar playing is a little rough but that is what makes folk music so beautiful. (example) if bob dylan played like eddie van halen he would no longer be a folk musician right? its not about playing guitar its about writing and singing what you believe in. Now I dont think he should ever get out of prison but the songs are mysterious and kinda scary…but

    Comment by Jason GOGOGOGOGOGOG — January 6, 2009 @ 12:01 am
  15. I read somewhere that Terry Melcher paid a visit to Charlie and the Family at Spahn Ranch when he still had some mild but reluctant interest as a record producer in hearing and getting Charlie’s music recorded because of Dennis Wilson’s endorsement and pressuring. This was at a point in time after earlier attempts at getting Manson’s songs on tape in a recording studio proved futile because the sessions were so undisciplined and shambolic. Charlie was ill at ease about being recorded with just his voice and guitar in the sterile environment of the studio with a mike in his face and so on some songs he insisted on having Family members sit in and accompany him with their voices and other instruments. He felt more confident and comfortable in the campfire singalong atmosphere with all his girls giggling and joints being passed around. He didn’t listen to suggestions from the recording engineer nor did he listen to Bobby Beausoleil telling him that overdubbing could spiff and polish up the songs afterward. The recording engineer then suggested to Melcher that if they couldn’t get the music down on tape then maybe they should get it down on film. So that was why Melcher visited the Family at Spahn’s because of this secondary idea floating around about making a documentary film. He was there to scope out the place for this project and get a feel for what the Family was all about on their own home turf. While he was at Spahn’s he witnessed Charlie get into a violent altercation with a drunken stuntman/ranch hand. Apparently Charlie beat and kicked this guy to the ground. Melcher was so put off by seeing a side of Charlie he hadn’t seen before, a hairtrigger tempered and physically violent Manson that he cut the visit short and left. After that incident Melcher didn’t want to have anything further to do with Manson. At a second proposed visit where the Family girls cleaned house and baked cookies in anticipation of Melcher arriving, he failed to show up. It is said that Manson didn’t take the rejection very well and was angry at Melcher for failing to deliver on the promise of a recording contract. Melcher, however, says that he never made such a promise nor had a recording contract ever been discussed. One gets the feeling that Melcher’s brief involvement with Manson was just to appease Dennis Wilson and give the diminutive scruffy hippie guru a hearing and a chance but that overall he wasn’t all that impressed with what he had seen or heard. Not long after this first and only Spahn ranch visit Melcher moved out of the Cielo Drive residence he rented from Rudy Altobelli and Roman Polanski and wife Sharon Tate moved in.

    Comment by Henry — June 11, 2009 @ 4:57 am
  16. […] songs like Home Is Where You’re Happy and Look At Your Game Girl (You can listen to them here) The only problem? Brown acid and years of mental illness, and going in and out of jails since he […]

  17. Good information. Tweeted about it. I’ll bookmark this post too.

    Comment by Jana Obhof — February 13, 2010 @ 7:36 pm
  18. HE IS CRAZY but is an ok singer i guess

    Comment by Ann — March 3, 2010 @ 12:05 am
  19. Charles Manson is responsible for killing many people.
    His crimes are beyond horrible.
    He is an idiot who is not in the real world.
    He acts like a jackass and he makes a complete fool of himself.
    Manson is a con artist and he has always used people.
    It is amazing that some people still buy his BS.
    It is a shame that he could not be put to death.
    If any person deserves to die, it is Charles Manson.

    George Vreeland Hill

    Comment by George Vreeland Hill — March 19, 2012 @ 3:44 am
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