Outsider music is a bit of a catchall category for avant garde music that doesn’t fit into other genre descriptions. Some would say that it doesn’t even count as music.
I’ve heard that a good book inspires a reader, and that a bad book inspires a writer. The same may be true of music, since there are some bands that I love listening to despite their flaws. Or maybe because of their flaws.
This list is shorter than most, since although there are many good outsider musicians out there, there aren’t that many that I have several favorite songs from.
These are “my” bands. The bands that helped shape who I am, roughly in order of how much they mean to me.
- The Shaggs
- Known For: My Pal Foot Foot
- Memories: Often dubbed “the worst band in the history of the world,” this quintessential cacophonous family still has its charm. They have a cult following, and a number of famous musicians even cite these ladies as the inspirations and include their albums in their top ten lists. I find their unpretentious energy and passion to be exhilirating.
- Favorite Songs: Wheels, It’s Halloween, The Philosophy of the World
- Wild Man Fischer
- Known For: Merry-Go-Round
- Memories: Like the Shaggs, Wild Man Fischer may have more fun than he has sense. Also like the Shaggs, he was discovered and popularized by Frank Zappa. Fischer’s songs are often little more than shouting along some some melody (or without a melody), but I do find him highly amusing. His is probably my favorite homeless asylum escapee music.
- Favorite Songs: I Got a Camera, I’m a Christmas Tree, It’s a Hard Business (with Rosemary Clooney), Flaming Carrot Theme Song
- Runners Up: Stump, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, That 1 Guy, Hawaiian Pups, Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Tiny Tim