A few months back you may recall Earl Sweatshirt's medley performance on Kimmel (and Fallon) which—as Stereogum put it—ended with Earl "introducing 'Gary,' a middle-aged white man in a trash bag and a bathrobe who duct-taped a wig to his own head. Sure!"
"We got duct tape," says Earl. The essentials. Phewf.
Thing is Gary isn't just a middle-aged dude in a trash bag. He's Gary-fucking-Wilson and his back catalogue may be slim, but it's also brilliantly bonkers, and includes oddball lounge pop like "When You Walk Into My Dreams" off his seminal 77 album, You Think You Really Know Me. Meanwhile, his story is stranger than fiction.
Here are some salient points about Mr. Wilson:
1. He was born in New York state and quickly developed a sonic obsession which manifested itself in many ways, firstly, by teaching himself to play guitar, bass, drums, piano, and cello before he'd hit double digits.
2. When he was in his teens he became obsessed with John Cage. Wilson wrote Cage a letter expressing his thoughts and feelings about his music and Cage responded by inviting him over to talk music. Like, what?! Shit like that never happens anymore!
3. His career has been eclectic to say the least, retiring from music initially in 1988, before returning, having spent a stint as working in an adult theater, to the stage in 2002. At one point Motel Records was so keen to find the recluse that they hired a private detective to track him down.
4. Back in the day his live shows were so peculiar and the crowd so flummoxed that if he played a small town sometimes Wilson would need a police escort to extract him from the ensuing melee. Once he performed an entire set with his head against a wall standing upside down.
5. How he presents himself—in videos and press shots—is almost as wonderful as his music. For instance he was fucking with mannequin heads way before Makonnen, and duct tape appears to be a recurring accessory.
6. He's been praised by everyone from Ariel Pink to The Roots to Animal Collective. In 1996 Beck started namedropping the hell out of him, specifically in "Where It's At." Trust Beck—impeccable taste.
7. He has a song called funky-sexy-strange song called "6.4 = Make Out." And if you think the song is bizzarro then check the video.
Anyway! Wilson is back and making sweet, sweet music. Premiering below is "I Really Dig Your Smile"—a kind of wonky alt-pop that'll have you mincing around your living room in no time. Honestly, hip wiggling and mincing is the move.
Wilson had this to say about the song: "It takes me back to those wonderful, carefree summers with three of my favorite girlfriends Linda, Karen, and Cindy. I can still hear the sounds of the merry-go-round in the park behind my parent's home."
Alone With Gary Wilson is out this September via Cleopatra.
Kim Taylor Bennett is now completely obsessed with Gary Wilson. She's on Twitter.