Triumphs & Tragedies: Hits & Misses from 1982-2002
Barry & The Bookbinders: How It Happened, Who's To Blame Barry & The Bookbinders began, literally, as Barry & The Bookbinders. Back in 1978, my youngest brother Fathead (a.k.a. Brad) discovered Peter Criss of the band KISS and had a quasi-religious experience. Fats immediately convinced The Red Tornado and Snazzy Hal (a.k.a. my mom and dad) to buy him a drum set, and he began his long (and ultimately successful) quest to cause the old bag who lived across the street to suffer a myocardial infarction. Shortly thereafter, I discovered KISS and had a quasi-religious experience of my own. However, to me, lead vocals and rhythm guitar were the place to be, so I worshipped the ground upon which Paul Stanley strutted. I blew a huge wad of cash on a guitar, an amp, and a P.A. system. Fatty dragged his drum set into my room, and we began to jam together, much to the chagrin of my parents, the cops, and the old bag who lived across the street. My other brothers, Barney (a.k.a. Brian) and Le Scum (a.k.a. Bruce), were not yet musicians at that time. (To this day, Barnacle Barn still isn't, although Tweedle Scum eventually became quite the bassist/keyboardist). However, in the early days, they were willing to step up to the microphone and vocalize. The first song I ever wrote was a demented pile of crap called 'Dr. Mad.' It was inspired by a haunted house game we used to play where we would try to scare the shit out of each other. In one particular game, someone (I can't remember who) had the brainstorm of trying to make the haunted house lame instead of scary. When everyone walked into the darkened room, this person held a flashlight under his chin and said, 'He's Dr. Mad. If you are good, he'll make you bad. If you are happy, he'll make you sad. He's Dr. Mad.' Needless to say, whoever this person was achieved his goal of being lame. Yet, the song I wrote mocking his lameness was far lamer. As time went on, I wrote a few more demented songs like 'I Can't Sing' (self-explanatory) and '(I've Fallen In Love With My) Right Hand' (equally self-explanatory). I played them for my friend Nyeah! (a.k.a. Elliot Solomon), a keyboardist/aspiring record producer. Lucky for me, he was as twisted as I was, and he convinced me to record my tunes and send them to the undisputed king of all that is warped: DR. DEMENTO. The name 'Barry & The Bookbinders' was coined by my friend Kirsten (nickname unknown). Following one high school party at my parents' house where I had played guitar and Minnesota Fathead had played drums, Kirsten sent a 'Thank You' card to us that had a drum set drawn on the envelope. She wrote the logo, 'Barry & The Bookbinders' on the kick drum head. To this day, I am haunted by my decision to use that name for my Dr. Demento submissions; I can't be anonymous when singing about jerkin' the gherkin, cuttin' the cheese, or a certain body part with the dimensions of a cocktail frank. The first song I ever sent to Dr. Demento was '(I've Fallen In Love With My) Right Hand.' He promptly rejected it. Nevertheless, he was nice enough to send me a letter explaining why he felt the song sucked. So I was inspired to send him a second tune, 'The Old Bag Convention.' It was about wild senior citizen shindigs that were being thrown by my grandmother at my parents' house. Again, Dr. Demento gave it the big thumbs down. But he sent me another letter explaining that he couldn't play it because I urged homicidal violence against the elderly. Picky, picky. Hoping the third time would be the charm, I sent Dr. D the aptly-titled, 'I Can't Sing.' To my delight, he wrote back and said he'd like to play it on his show. My dad heard the song for the first time when it was being played live on Dr. D's show, and after about 30 seconds, he yelled, 'It's just a bunch of screaming!!!' I beamed with pride. Since then, I've sent Dr. Demento songs at the incredibly prolific rate of less than one per year. (Hey, I'm a busy guy. Aw, screw it; I'm lazy). There has never been a steady Barry & The Bookbinders band lineup. Instead, I use whatever musicians are right for the particular song I'm working on. If I need a chick singer, I get a chick singer. If I need someone who plays the harp, I get someone who plays the harp. If I need someone with big knockers to dress up in a nurse's uniform and administer a hot caramel enema, I . . . hey, can anyone out there help me with this one? As 20 years have passed since I sent Dr. D that first song, and I've never released a compilation of my work, I figured it was about time. Hence, if you enjoy this collection, you'll have to live for another 20 years, because that's probably how long it will take me to release the next one. But thanks for listening, sucka! ROCK ON!!! Barry Bookbinder, Esq. 2002.