The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Bobby Edwards, the Troubadour of Greenwich Village (8)

January 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments


We had a look earlier at Bodenheim’s fictional portrayal of Edwards.  There’s a more flattering assessment in this putative memoir from 1954, published soon after Bodenheim’s murder.  Since the book was actually written by Samuel Roth and David George Kin, from Bodenheim’s unfinished notes, it’s hard to say who’s responsible for what follows.

At any rate, the book opens with two pages of Bobby:

“During the middle and late twenties in Greenwich Village, many unique characters flourished.  Among them was jaunty, bald, string-bean Bobby Edwards and his cigar-box ukeleles which he made and painted in gaudy abstract designs.  When he was not being impish or professionally clowning, Bobby had a personality so shy that it almost flirted with diffidence.  His alcoholic imbibing was limited to a very occasional glass of beer or wine.”

After a few anecdotes about Edwards’ verbal sparring with hecklers and other Villagers, and an excerpt from his song “The Sultan’s Wives,” the portrait concludes with his response to an admiring (and drunk) young woman, who had staggered onstage to paw him.

“‘Thanks a million,’ Bobby replied.  ‘I’d like to tell you how I feel toward you too, darling, but I could only make such a confession privately.’

“‘Privately?  Why, honey?’

“‘Because the words I would use regarding the exhibition that you’re putting on would be so sore and off color that I couldn’t possibly say them in front of an audience,’ Bobby replied, with his invariable, nicely-balanced and coolly self-possessed grin.

“The tuxedo-clad escort of the girl, who had followed her and was watching close behind with clenched fists, relaxed and hauled his tipsy lady off the floor and back to their table.

“It must not be surmised that Bobby had spoken as he did from any fear of the close-by male.  Men who were deceived by Bobby’s subdued manners and gentlemanly poise and strove to insult, push, or annoy him, promptly felt the hefty sting of his right uppercut or left jab.”

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Bobby Edwards · Ukulele

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mamie // Jan 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Nice cover art!

  • 2 Angela // Jan 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

    The more layers you add to this jaunty gent, the more I adore him.

    Ullage Event: The Ullage Does the Village

    Uke songs, Bodenheim poems, Readings from the Quill, now if you could only get Ratso to play the part of Tiny Tim.

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