My most recent musical nirvana. Rodd Keith was a song-poet in the late 60’s who effortlessly channeled multi-genre melodies and had songwriting chops that would have made Scott Walker or Joe Meek blush. Rodd Keith seemed to single-handedly and simultaneously embrace and shirk the notoriously gritty and sleazy connotations of the song-poem business long known as song sharking where people would respond to want ads in the back of newspapers requesting you send in your poem to be set to music. Once your music was sent in they often sent letters asking for more money to cut the 45 and usually implied that there were labels interesting in releasing it. What made Rodd Keith stand out was his ability to take the lyrics sent in and create surreal songs that transcended the pastiches found throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s L.A. music scene. His conservative upbringing and subsequent move to L.A. where he fell into the rougher aspects of the music scene doing psychedelic and amphetamine drugs eventually leading to his increasingly alluring yet bizarre musical output til the end with his mysterious death after jumping off a freeway overpass in the early 70s in L.A.
With his output being so diverse it’s hard to say where the best place to start is. Try these songs for a first taste:
The chamberlain (early mellotron found on a lot of his recordings) solo in this song is so effortlessly cool. Not to mention how Keith is able to transform the bizarre lyrics into the no sleep for a week half drunk crooned masterpiece it is.
A musical menagerie of everything L.A. late 60’s, but done so much better. Love the chopped up self-backup vocals Keith employs on the song.
Another smoggy psychedelic morning in L.A.
I feel way cooler than I actually am driving around to this song. Not sure who it is that lends the female vocals to this track, but they work so well.
Pretty John Maus-y. A cheesier/dirtier Serge Ganisbergesque (if that’s possible?) tune.