I remember the days when things were real bad for me
It was right after my accident, when I lost my hand…
* * *
“Moulty” was a song by a Cape Cod garage band called the Barbarians, who in 1964 grew shoulder-length hair, wore sandals, and were fronted by a one-armed drummer with a hook.
Moulty was drummer/singer Victor Moulton, who at the age of 14 had lost his left hand while he was building a pipe bomb, and this 1965 single is a recitation by Moulton (backed not by the other Barbarians, but a cadre of New York session musicians including, allegedly, members of Levon and the Hawks, soon to become the Band) about his accident and how it changed his life. The monologue, written by producer Doug Morris, is sappier than a sugar maple in March, but the combination of the cheesy recitation and the sloppy rock and roll backing, with its drunk-sounding, ragged massed backing vocals, is oddly appealing. The Barbarians didn’t think so, and left Laurie Records soon after the single was released without the band’s consent.
I can’t get enough of this song. It’s so goofy and hilarious, but so earnest. It makes me happy.
If you head over to Rbally, you can listen to a version of Yo La Tengo doing it live with Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith’s guitar player, and the compiler of the original Nuggets collection on which “Moulty” was collected) in 2005. Also, be sure to check out some video of Victor’s one-handed drumming.