By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Necessarily reborn as Glen Glenn, he and Lambert began cutting some uniformly superior rockabilly. With “One Cup of Coffee” and “Blue Jeans and a Boy’s Shirt,” Glenn demonstrated a masterly absorption of the idiom’s requirements. He was innovative, with an extravagantly knocked-out manner of exaggerated phrasing: He would flatten the “a” in “date” to rhyme it with “yet,” or yank it down, like Sinatra, to make “dancin’” into “dahn-cin’”; then follow that hint of sophistication with a low-down “eggzackly.”
His lyrics displayed unusual sensitivity; in “One Cup,” Glenn’s “gonna cry if she don’t show up,” where most rockabilly swains would “die” and still make the rhyme; with Lambert’s coolly cutting guitar, the songs were redolent with a calculated, R&B tinged sloppiness that elevated their music to the psycho-acoustic dimension where sound not only seemed to produce corporeal sensations, it demanded a physical response on the dance floor.
His first release was “Kathleen,” a mushy girl-song with tremendous commercial potential, but Glenn would not reap the reward; he carelessly left the demo at Imperial Records, and it was reborn as Ricky Nelson hit “Poor Little Fool.” But he had an ace in the hole. “Porter Wagoner said, ‘Why don’t you come back to Missouri? I’ll take you on the road.’ I did several tours with him in ’57, more or less as front man. But Porter hated rockabilly, he hated Elvis, and they’d worked together quite a bit. He’d say, ‘That’s not music — why don’t you just do country?’ He’d tease me like crazy and really didn’t want me to do them songs, but he couldn’t say nothing, because I was tearing the house down for him.”
Between Porter Wagoner’s road shows and Fred Maddox’s perpetual nightclub hustling, the career accelerated steadily. In California, they were regulars on used-car titan Cal Worthington’s live Cal’s Corral TV show, which provided invaluable opportunities to plug their own club dates. In the studio, things just got tighter and brighter; with the cult-prized masterpiece “Everybody’s Movin’,” a song with a devastatingly simple, frosty and unforgettable two-note guitar pattern that carried it from deadpan lulls to shatteringly intense peaks, Glenn and Lambert achieved a measure of rockabilly immortality. Once they added the song to their show, everyone in town recognized it. “Eddie Cochran wanted to cut “Everybody’s Movin’,” Glenn said, “but I wouldn’t let him.”
Naturally, such a measure of explosive rockabilly expression could not go unpunished. In January 1958, just weeks after recording “Everybody’s Movin’,” Glenn was drafted; Lambert enlisted so the pair could stay together, and they were assigned to Special Services together. After completing basic training, the duo returned to Los Angeles and recorded “Laurie Ann,” another calculatedly commercial softcore girl-song. “Lew Bedell at Era Records fell in love with ‘Laurie Ann,’ thought it was the greatest, but I was in the service,” Glenn said. “It was pick of the week on American Bandstand, but Gary and I were stationed in Hawaii, and they wouldn’t even let us play. It was getting airplay on KFWB in Hollywood, and Dick Clark sent a telegram to Lew Bedell asking me to be on Bandstand, but the Army said, ‘You can’t do that, you’re a soldier.’”
The moment passed as quickly as it had come, never to be reclaimed. By the time he was discharged, rigor mortis had set in on rockabilly. Glenn kept working, singing country, working for Maddox, who now operated his own minicircuit of four nightclubs, scattered from Pomona to Carpinteria, and occasionally toured with Wagoner. By the mid-60s, Glenn settled in Ontario, California, married and started a family, and just let his musical career evaporate. The late-20th-century rockabilly revival brought him back onstage, and, almost 50 years later, “Everybody’s Movin’” remains an open-ended invitation to tour the world. The song is also familiar to rock & roll royalty: Bob Dylan has frequently performed “Everybody’s Movin’,” and even used Glenn as his warm-up act at the Hollywood Palladium in 1992. “Dylan told me that he, George Harrison and Paul McCartney got together and jammed on it one night,” Glenn said. “I don’t really care for any of those guys’ music much, but I wish I had a tape of that one.”
Glen Glenn performs with Mac Curtis, the Phil Friendly Trio and Captain Jeffrey and the Chumbuckets at Safari Sam’s on Saturday, May 17.