Tag Archives: Folk

Leaving

This is the second video I’ve posted to YouTube. Like the first, it is a music video I made using public domain footage. I use public domain footage because I do not have access to video recording equipment and like the idea of pairing my music with a visual expression. I chose WWII footage because it seems to convey the message of the song in a way that I had not originally intended. When I first wrote the song it was out of emotional anger, a response to a personal relationship. However, as I listen to the song now and watch the WWII footage I get the impression that it could communicate the complicated emotions of a soldier dying in battle, thinking back on his life regretfully.

Perhaps you will interpret it differently.

“Leaving” by Stephen Joseph

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Jim Sullivan: A Tattered Testimonial Drifting Across the Aural Landscape

In March 1975 a musician named Jim Sullivan left Los Angeles and headed toward Nashville with the hope of developing a successful music career. He never made it past Santa Rosa, NM.

Sullivan’s VW Bug was found 26 miles away from a motel he had checked into.

Some think he wandered into the desert and got lost. Some think he developed a relationship that went sour with a local family allegedly tied to the mafia. And others think aliens abducted him.

What is known is that Jim Sullivan was never seen again.

The alien abduction theory is must likely connected to Sullivan’s 1969 debut album titled U.F.O. It featured cryptic lyrics about the highway, the desert and aliens.

Throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Jim Sullivan performed nightly at a Malibu, CA bar. His gift for musical storytelling earned him a cult like status on the West Coast.

Sullivan was on the cusp of fame – hanging out with movie stars and performing on the Jose Feliciano show. He even had a cameo appearance in the epic hippie film, Easy Rider.

Sullivan’s career certainly seemed to be steadily gaining traction. Phil Spector’s legendary sessioneers, The Wrecking Crew, even loaned their talent to creating the U.F.O. album.

But U.F.O. was largely different than the performance Sullivan gave on stage. Rather than a one-man-and-a-guitar sound, the album was a full realization of instrumentation and imagination. It was a folk-rock record with a head full of astral dust.

Sullivan’s voice is deep and full on the recording. His phrasings unravel like incantations. The album is brimming with unhappy pop songs scraped from the smog filled lethargy of Los Angeles.

Yet, the album failed to gain critical attention.

Sullivan released another unsuccessful album in 1972. And by 1975, with his marriage falling apart, Sullivan left for Nashville hoping to etch out a new life as a sessioneer on Country and Western albums.

At this point in Sullivan’s story the few facts that remain are comingled with assumptions and wild exaggerations.

What has been documented is that the police pulled Sullivan over about 15 hours after he set off from LA. He was taken to a police station, passed sobriety tests, and instructed to stay the night at a local La Mesa motel to get some rest. He complied.

Sometime afterwards, the Genetti family, suspected to have mafia ties, spotted his car on their ranch and confronted him about his business there. The following day his abandoned car was found 26 miles down the road.

Sullivan’s guitar, wallet, clothes and several copies of his second album were found in his car and at his hotel room. There was no note and no Jim. He had disappeared.

The missing person search that followed uncovered no sign of Sullivan’s body.

Fortunately, his music has survived – thanks to Light In The Attic Records.

Sullivan’s album, U.F.O., was once nearly impossible to find – a record so rare that you could scour the Internet or independent record stores without finding a trace of it.

The Seattle based record label, Light In The Attic Records, however, made it their mission to uncover this long forgotten treasure. After hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, letters, faxes, private detectives, telepathy, palm readings and meetings with Jim’s wife, Light In The Attic Records has produced an excellent digital mastering of the original recording.

U.F.O. is a psychedelic-folk masterpiece. Beyond the mystery, Jim Sullivan’s music remains, available now to a broader, new audience – echoing like a cosmic, tattered testimonial in the transcendental aural landscape.

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