BioOver the years, the originality and imagination of Nordine's anomalous creations has become ever more evident. What once was viewed with some beneficence, as a quirky, if entertaining, irrelevance, now is more commonly accorded the status of a timeless classic. He was saluted as a hipster elder by such acolytes as Jerry Garcia and Tom Waits, both of whom participated in Nordine's 1991 (yet another comeback) album, Devout Catalyst," on Grateful Dead Records. The more recognition accorded Nordine, the more his wonderful recording of Shure's little masterpiece was missed.
A world where windshield wipers fall in love and people make a business out of licking lampshades may sound like something Ken Nordine imagined, but his 1967 album Wink was actually Nordine reading a little-known Beat Generation classic somebody else wrote. Robert Shure wrote the strange little poems, published in 1957 by City Lights Books, the San Francisco publishing company operated by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It was a tiny little book, three or four inches across, illustrated with whimsical black and white drawings by Ray Zimmerman. Nordine, whose own cult classic (Word Jazz) was also first released in 1957, stumbled across the tiny gem years later, but instantly recognized a kindred spirit.