Praising PJ in the Daytime
Just when I thought Scott Walker and Lee Hazlewood were my two favorite male singers of the 1960s, I've lately been reassessing the work of PJ Proby whom I once dismissed as a light-weight equal to Bobby Sherman. But this amazing clip -- from German or Dutch TV (not clear from the mumbled intros) -- proves the range of Texan. From Motown to crooner, PJ and the visuals here give us mid- and late 1960s converging in a glorious way.
PJ was always more popular in Europe than the US, and maybe that's because you wouldn't expect someone who looks the way his does in this clip moving and sounding like that. To me, at least, that's what makes it so wonderful. That ballad that takes up the second half of the clip is an especially pleasantly bizarre mix for a soup. It as if Charles Manson is channeling Judy at Carnegie Hall with Phil Spector producing the whole beautiful mess.
Besides appearing with the Beatles and the Yardbirds, he was better known for how he managed to pour himself in tight pants that often split on stage as a part of his act.
It reminds me of some back and forth emails this week about entertainers in the 1960s, ranging from Mrs. Miller to Tiny Tim who are easily dismissed as novelty acts but were a wonderful mix of the weird, sublime, silly and prophetic. PJ was certainly more than a novelty act and not typically southern. I'll add him to my list with Scott, Lee and -- of course -- Tony Joe White who forever enriched our culture with "Polk Salad Annie" and the class line "gator got your granny".