The whole idea of art and agency in art is challenged by outsider artists. That is creators who don’t seem to have technical chops but somehow make visuals or sounds that engage anyway.
The Shaggs were a bunch of sisters who formed a band at their father’s direction and made an album in 1969 that went no where, at least partly because it was horribly played.
But, some years later that horrible playing became a virtue, and they were adopted by Frank Zappa and Terry Adams as naifs, making brilliant music without consciousness.
I spent some time tonight with Laura (last name unregistered by my brain), who plays drums in the modern version of the Shaggs, backing up Dot Wiggins, apparently the last remaining sister on tour. Until tonight I didn’t really know the Shaggs’ album, but Laura told a story about Dot’s musical tastes.
“What do you listen to,” Laura asked.
Dot said, “Herman Hermits.” Her tastes were fixed in the 60s.
Lester Bangs said the Shaggs were better than the Beatles, which is one side of the discussion about interesting naivete versus commercial calculation. I didn’t grow up with the Shaggs and didn’t invest myself in their story when Terry Adams and Frank Zappa revived them. For me this is outsider art, if art is what you want to call it.
I’m glad to hear it, I find it hard to give it much credit but enthusiasm.