Famed New Orleans Music Producer Mark Bingham Discusses His Songs and Collaborations: A Nakedly Examined Music Conversation (#136)

You’re most like­ly to know Mark’s work from the string intro­duc­tion to REM’s “Shiny Hap­py Peo­ple,” but he’s been a sta­ple of the New Orleans record­ing scene since he moved there in 1982, pro­duc­ing groups like Flat Duo Jets, Glenn Bran­ca, John Scofield, Mar­i­anne Faith­ful, and the Rebirth Brass Band. He and his stu­dio were also fea­tured on the HBO show Treme. He had a whole life­time of musi­cal devel­op­ment before then, though, first get­ting signed as a teenag­er in Los Ange­les and record­ing a sin­gle as a solo artist. He then left to study music in Indi­ana where he was one of two gui­tarists and sev­er­al singers for the very adven­tur­ous, the­atri­cal Scream­ing Gyp­sy Ban­dits, who released their one album, In the Eye, in 1973. Fol­low­ing the times, he eschewed pro­gres­sive rock for a more min­i­mal­ist but still very arty style in New York City with a band called Social Climbers. He’s released two albums since then under his own name in between pro­duc­tion work: A jazz-rock inflect­ed singer-song­writer album called I Passed for Human in 1989, and then a more root­sy endeav­or called Psalms Of Vengeance in 2009. He is due for a sig­nif­i­cant archive release with­in the next year with some­thing like ten albums of addi­tion­al com­po­si­tions.

In this episode of Naked­ly Exam­ined Music, we pick four of his songs to play in full and dis­cuss. After a short intro­duc­tion over the song “Flies R All Around Me” by Scream­ing Gyp­sy Ban­dits from Back to Dog­head (1970, but not released until 2009), the first full dis­cus­sion cov­ers “Pissoffgod.com” (fea­tured in the video link in this post) from Psalms of Vengeance (2009). We then turn to “Ash Wednes­day and Lent” by Ed Sanders (music by Mark Bing­ham) from Ed’s album Poems for New Orleans (2007). We then look back to “That’s Why” by Social Climbers from their self-titled album (1981). We con­clude with “Blood Moon,” a group impro­vi­sa­tion by Michot’s Melody Mak­ers from Cos­mic Cajuns from Sat­urn (2020). This is a band that plays most­ly tra­di­tion­al cajun music that Mark was pro­duc­ing and has now for two albums joined as their gui­tarist.

Want more? Lis­ten to “Flies” in fullHear the whole Social Climbers album (1981). Mark’s first solo album fea­tured this Coltrane clas­sicLis­ten to Mark back­ing Aaron Neville and John­ny Adams on a Hal Will­ner album of Kurt Weil tunes. Expe­ri­ence one of the tunes he wrote for Allen Gins­berg to read poet­ry over. Watch him live with Michot’s Melody Mak­ers.

Naked­ly Exam­ined Music is a pod­cast host­ed by Mark Lin­sen­may­er, who also hosts The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life Phi­los­o­phy Pod­cast and Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast. He releas­es music under the name Mark Lint.

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