The Marquis’ Intimate Diary


Do you wanna be my friend? You’ll have to pass a simple test first.

I use “The Shaggs” as a litmus test when I meet new people who desire my company. It is a very effective, quick and painless screening tool.

It goes like this: If you get “The Shaggs”, I will be your friend. You don’t necessarily have to like “The Shaggs”, but you have to get “The Shaggs.”

Niki and Portia get it and like it. That’s good.

Michele and Patrick get it, and yet flee the room when it’s on. That’s okay too.

A brief history as I understand it: In the late 60’s, three homely sisters in New Hampshire with “Shagg” haircuts and hideous homemade green checked gingham ensembles were bullied by their doting, loving father to drop out of school and start recording their highly original and thought-provoking compositions and bizarre choices of cover tunes. The father fancied himself a Jackson’s type manager I think, and dreamed of fame and fortune at the dextrous fingers of his three progeny — and it might have worked if even one of the treasured fruits of his loins had a soupçon of musical talent in her.

None of the dippy ladies did, however, and their first album “Philosophy of the World”, recorded in something like 2 hours in 1968, is argued to be either the worst album ever recorded, or, by some, the best. I’m torn. I think it’s the best of the worst. Zappa allegedly once commented that “The Shaggs are better than The Beatles.” Bonnie Raitt declares they are “on a musical island with themselves.” Another reviewer opines that they “bring my mind to a screeching halt.”

To me, they have quite the opposite effect. My mind whirls and reels when I listen to them in a veritable frenzy of thoughts, hues and emotions. One word questions flutter by my retinas as their dulcet tones fill the room: “Why…”, “How…”, “What…”, “Umm…”, “Help…”, to name but a few.

One of their “hits” is the tremendously moving ode, “My Pal Foot Foot” about losing their precious double-amputated cat when he ran off — which creates quite a vivid visual. (If the cat had had all four paws, would he have been named FootFootFootFoot? Just another poignant question brought up by "The Shaggs".)

My pal’s name is FootFoot
He always likes to roam.
My pal’s name is FootFoot
I never find him home.
I go to his house
Knock at the door
People come out and say,
“FootFoot don’t live here no more.”

Bad grammar notwithstanding, the earnestness and pathos of The Shaggs is legendary. Their innocence is almost inconceivably honest. I can actually believe these horsey girls would go to a neighbour’s house to play with the cat.

So. If you can dissert intelligently and offer stunning insight into the creed and credo of “The Shaggs”, then I love you. We will have a lovely marriage and get many, many blenders.