In 1989—not so long after he starred in River’s Edge, tried to kick David Letterman in the face and published his first book Rat Catching—Crispin Glover released an album. More than a mere new wave or spoken word record, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be presented itself as a riddle. On the back cover, above a collage of nine items including photos of Hitler, Charles Manson, unidentified clowns, and Glover as Jesus crucified, these lines of text dared listeners to reach out and touch someone:
“All words and lyrics point toward THE BIG PROBLEM. The solution lay within the title: LET IT BE. Crispin Hellion Glover wants to know what you think these nine things all have in common. Call (213) 464-5053.”
(It was rumored that Glover sometimes picked up, but every time I dialed this number I got the answering machine of his press, Volcanic Eruptions.)
Recorded with Barnes & Barnes of “Fish Heads” fame, the album included readings from Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot; indelible interpretations of “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”; and originals that ranged from a ballad about hygiene (“The New Clean Song”) to a rap about masturbation (“Auto-Manipulator”). Promotion (*cough*) seems to have been limited to a video for “Clowny Clown Clown,” whose lyrics referred obliquely to Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, in the excellent cult comedy Rubin and Ed. At the time, the reference was all the more oblique because the straight-to-video movie did not come out until 1991, two years after the release of The Big Problem. In the video, Glover appears dressed as “Mr. Farr” at the appropriate moment in the song.
The entire album is now up at UbuWeb. Wikipedia and UbuWeb both report that the phone number printed on the sleeve has been disconnected. However, they fail to mention that Glover’s—or that of Volcanic Eruptions—current number, (310) 391-4154 is posted on his website. Why don’t you give him a call? The nine items on the back cover of The Big Problem are:
I. The killing and maiming of defenseless animals?
III. Indignant, righteous, self manipulation, with discrimination against others?
V. Getting out of bed?
VII. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, who might just as easily be called a gloating woman seducer?
VIII. Charles Manson never saying “Never” to always?
IX. Oak Mot?
A. Adry Long circa 1868?
B. Adolf Hitler circa 1932?
C. Adry/Hitler in the minds of history forevermore?
What do these things have in common? If you find out, let us know.
The video for “Clowny Clown Clown”