How come you here, staffed wayfarer,
Part plunged in what a darkness,
But with remembered joy still singing in the heart?
Whatever happened to What's his name?
Sometimes AOL will put up a picture of some young celebrity of years gone by and tell where they are now. One of the strange things about being a public person is that when no one hears about you or sees you anywhere for a long time they don't believe you have a life. You've either passed along or your sitting like some manikin in a back room somewhere or up on a shelf. Life isn't really about what a celebrity does out in the public eye. Life goes on for them just as it does for everyone else.
Louis Thomas Hardin, better known as Moondog, was a New York fixture for many years. He could be seen standing on the sidewalk, usually on Sixth Avenue, in his Viking garb with a staff. He was a strange sight to see. A blind man, Moondog would listen. He listened to the sounds of the city and from those sounds he made poetry and music.
He was primarily a composer and musician. He wrote simple melodies with complicated rhythms. He played in various clubs around New York and made several record albums. His music was used by many well known recording artists of the day, including Janis Joplin. He was admired and respected by Arturo Toscanini, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker. He also invented musical instruments. One of them, the trimba, is still played today.
And then one day in the 70's he disappeared. "Where's Moondog?" "What happened to Moondog?" "I wonder what became of Moondog." "Who?" "You know, that blind guy who used to stand on the corner in the funny costume." "Oh, yeah. Where did he go?" "I guess he died or something."
There was no more Moondog.
Then 14 years later I was walking down a street in lower Manhattan. I passed an obscure jazz club and out in front was a poster saying that Moondog was going to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic in a concert of his music. He was back in town just for that occasion. He was living in Germany and had been touring all over Europe. So much for "He must have died or something."
Life goes on and the heart still sings, even if no one knows about it.
DB - The Vagabond.