Jesse Jarnow

charles manson sings (greatest misses #3)

This got recently excised from a magazine because the editor (as I interpret it) didn’t want to be responsible for the residual spreading of Manson’s bad juju. Here ’tis.

[ESP] 3 stars

Original freak-folker shows ’em how it’s done.

Though the Beach Boys covered one of his songs, and Neil Young lobbied for him to be signed, it was simply not to be for a struggling L.A. singer-songwriter named Charlie Manson. Instead, he earned himself a cult following significantly different than most of his acoustic-slinging brethren. Recorded in September 1967, six months after Manson’s previous release from prison and two years before the killings that brought him to notoriety, Manson set down two-dozen of his original compositions. Considered in the wake of Devendra Banhart and others ragged folk-psych revivalists, Charles Manson’s music — originally issued during his 1970 trial — is quite listenable. “Arkansas” is dotted with weirdly barbed guitars, off-kilter harmonies, and hippie agrarianism, while one can hear what appealed to the Beach Boys about the rising chorus of “Cease to Exist” (effectively repurposed by them into 20/20‘s “Never Learn Not To Love”). Too bad he didn’t get signed. Banhart might’ve rediscovered him.


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