“Puce Moment” (dir. Kenneth Anger) with music by Jonathan Halper

The attached clip is legendary underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s short film “Puce Moment” from 1949. While I like the film, the music Anger added to the film in 1966 made a bigger impression on me. The music, composed and sung by Jonathan Halper, are two songs “Leaving My Old Life Behind” and “I Am a Hermit.”  “Life” and “Hermit” are damn good psychedelic folk tunes, but Halper’s sneering vocal is what draws me in every time. Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins should be paying Halper royalties.

On a side note, I had heard about Kenneth Anger for years, but his films were impossible to find in most video stores back in the late 1980s. So I felt like Coronado finding a lost city of gold, when I discovered my college library had an extensive video collection and I was able to catch up on a lot of terrifically obscure films that weren’t available anywhere else. The tape that had this Kenneth Anger film on it, along with Robert Downey Sr.’s “Putney Swope,” were the first ones I watched on that glorious Sunday evening.  The library’s big orange chairs and puny video monitors were this film fanatic’s saving grace in a pre-Netflix era.

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