Thank you, commenter M.J., for inadvertently reminding me of where I picked up the phrase “metaphysical distress.” It was from Ed Sanders’ introduction to a recording of the Fugs’ “Swinburne Stomp” from their 1965 debut album, to wit:
“In the key of metaphysical distress, the Swinburne Stomp!”
Be sure to listen to the whole performance, which features an amazing ending. (Here, by the way, is Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Wikipedia page. I imagine he experienced a great deal of this condition.)
At any rate, in early 1965 I was burning with desire to have this album. An older beatnik friend urged me to write to the record company (ESP Disk) in New York City and order a copy. That’s what you had to do back then, because such records were never found in Austin record stores! He had a tiny little ad he’d clipped out of the Village Voice—I doubt you have any idea how hard it was to come by that publication in Central Texas at the time—so that’s exactly what I did, of course, and I still have it in the storage unit somewhere. I soon became a huge Fugs fan and collected a number of their LPs. My favorite song was probably “Kill for Peace“—this and many others definitely NSFW—although there are so many gems.
The Fugs figured in my life in other strange ways. When I was a Wharton County Junior College instructor in Texas during the first Nixon administration, I learned that the Fugs’ drummer, Ken Weaver, had attended the place a few years before. How I found out is lost to me, but I even discovered his name carved into a wooden desk in my classroom. What an astounding “coincidence.” I actually wrote to him through the record company and he wrote back, expressing deepest sympathy for my Vietnam War exile in that ghastly place and promising to “smoke a bowl of dope” for me. (Made my year and saved my life, by God—just ask my ex-wife, if you can find her.) Many years later in Maryland, I met a woman who’d gone to school in Vermont and attended a number of Fugs gigs in sleazy college bars in Massachusetts. Oh, man. Driving through the snow on LSD, drunken lunacy, and fight the system. I wasn’t there but might as well have been.
The point of this, believe it or not, is changing the world by living your own truth. By accepting that you are different and it’s all right…