Squaresville Meets Kooksville: Jim Lowe and Michael J Pollard
Today I bring you a very groovy novelty 45.
Those of you under a certain age will likely be unfamiliar with Michael J Pollard, and those of you under a certain (older) age, who didn’t live in the New York area will most certainly not know Jim Lowe.
The intersection of these two characters makes for one of the weirdest 45s/stories in the annals of Iron Leg.
We’ll start with Lowe, who was, during my 60s and 70s childhood a fixture on the huge adult contemporary radio station in NY, WNEW-AM (alongside William B Williams).
Lowe was a journeyman DJ, but he also has a lucrative sideline as a recording artist, having hit Number One in 1956 with the original version of ‘Green Door’ (later waxed instrumentally by Esquerita) and a string of pop songs and novelties into the 70s.
Michael J Pollard was for a time – say 1964 to 1971 – the quirky face of young/unusual/hip Hollywood. Kind of the original ‘indie darling’, though he worked consistently in mainstream TV (Lost In Space, Star Trek) and movies (Bonnie and Clyde, Little Fauss and Big Halsy). He had a unique look, a quirky personality and the ability to portray everything from simple naivete to quiet menace.
I don’t know exactly how Jim Lowe decided to build this song around Pollard, but the basic concept, i.e. a “gag” candidacy was already in the air with Pat Paulsen (of the Smothers Brothers Show) throwing his hat into the ring.
The song namechecks all the mainstream candidates (though the line ‘I don’t see Dick’ seems a little odd…), then with a circus calliope and a chorus, he suggests ‘Michael J Pollard for President’.
My guess – and this seems likely – is that Pollard represented a kind of lost, anchor-less youth (he is referred to in the song as a ‘hippy’) that would probably appeal to kids but bring nothing but eye-rolls and derision from their parents.
Pollard himself doesn’t appear on the record, other than in an impression by Lowe in the last ten second of the song.
The music is pretty groovy, in a ‘mainstream studio guys go au-go-go’ and the conceit is pretty wild.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.