Thursday, July 09, 2015

"IF YOU SEE KAY" A fuckin' tasty treat from SWEETPIE

I don't know how much money he made off me, but in my disc jockey days, I did play SWEETPIE's "If You See Kay" quite a bit.

One of the rules at the radio station was "you can't curse. It's ok if an ARTIST says it on VINYL, but not YOU."

Naturally I took every opportunity to play snippets of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, and regularly offered Zappa's "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" with the happy shout at the end, "You hot little bitch!" Ah, "Prince of Blends" that I was, I segued that line into "Bitch" by the Rolling Stones.

When I had a spare minute to shake the listeners up, I played an oddity called "If You See Kay." I discovered it surreptitiously tucked into the grooves of a Warner Bros."loss leader" album. No, Sweetpie, who sang the thing, wasn't officially on their label, but they mixed it in just the same. There were some very cool people at Warners in those days, and for a disc jockey wanting to play a wide variety of music, the Warners "loss leader" sampler albums made it seem like I had a much more monumental record collection than I did back then.

Since Warners was not promoting him, I had no idea who Sweetpie was. I figured he was some old black blues man, but it turned out that he was a white hippie weirdo. His 1972 album on The Fugs' ESP label is "Pleasure Pudding LIVE AT FAT CITY." Among the hippie-dippie tracks: "Let's Boogie," "This Bitter Earth" "Too Drunk to Ball," "Vermont - A Lazy Man's Colorado" and "Kay." Through the 70's, Sweetpie shocked and annoyed East Coast audiences (especially in Massachusetts)

Sweetpie (Paul Winer) is still alive and well, and lives in Quartzite, Arizona where he runs a funky-lookin' bookstore and, as always, sports wild hair, a wild beard, and is more prone to wear more on his head than anywhere else. The nudist-pianist certainly has good reason not to wear much in Arizona, so a single whats-it around his genitalia suffices. One tooth in his lower jaw apparently suffices, too, and might warn people against too much sweet pie.

Happily, you can find plenty of Sweetpie on YouTube, thanks to Todd Anderson who got him to both sing and recall his greatest hits. Aside from "If You See Kay," Sweetpie is known for the sing-along "Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke," which was popularized by Bette Midler. Just what is original, what is legend, what is owed to Memphis Slim, or what was just part of the R.Crumb Boogie subculture of the day…most people are way too baked and/or old to recall with any certainty.

Below, a live rendition of "If You See Kay" from Our Hippie in Arizona. The 1972 album? You can download it at the espdisk.com website (yes, they expect payment). F.U.C.K. to the greedheads, Zinfarts and Hans Diverticulitis slobs who never drop some money in a singer's cup. And if you're in Quartzite, Arizona, and female, go pay homage to Sweetpie's cup. It's all he wears. Everyone else, buy something, there's a lot of odd stuff in the store that might be considered priceless.

SweetPie If You See Kay

3 comments:

Brian Prebble said...

Interesting piece of eccentric oddballness! I'd love to have seen the looks on your listeners faces when you played this. The line about removing the tongue from the arse had me laughing out loud. I know nobody would get away with playing this on the radio in the sinking nation known as Britain these days but I get the feeling John Peel may had slipped it into one of his late night shows back in the day since this would had appealed to his sense of humour... after all he championed the likes of Vivian Stanshall, Ivor Cutler and was one of the only British DJ's who dared to play The Fugs.

Those old "loss leader" albums... they were a great inexpensive way to discover or sample a host of talents and some of those stand up well as good compilations. Island put out some of the best ones in the UK showcasing their eclectic catalog of talents and that was the beauty of those times - labels had their own identity yet managed to have an interesting range of talent and Warners certainly took quite a few chances even though Sweetpie wasn't one of their acts... no surprise that ESP had him on their books since this does sit nicely alongside some of The Fugs' more crazier moments.

Phillip Ford said...

Songwriter/composer Alec Wilder wrote a little ditty yclept "If You See Kay" in, I believe, the late 40s. He had a, to be generous, jaundiced view of the commercial recording industry.

Rev. bIGhIG said...

Saw Sweet Pie live many years ago in a joint where my (then) girlfriend waitressed.
This was in Tyngsboro MA of all places. The joint is long-gone, that girlfriend is long-gone, and Tyngsboro may as well be too.
SP was having a slow night, so wasn't adverse to a chat. Seemed like a pleasant cat.

Just discovered your site, and it looks like it's gonna be fun.