TINY TIM – “Ever Since You Told Me That You Loved Me (I’m A Nut)”
I can’t take Current 93’s own music in more than short bursts, but I can hardly think of a musician I’d rather have make me a compilation tape than David Tibet. His obsessions, musical and otherwise, are almost always fascinating: step forward the late Tiny Tim, who Tibet befriended, worked with, and deeply respected. Tim is best known as a novelty act, who wowed a giggly crowd at some sixties festival or other and then had a one-off hit with “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”, an old music-hall standard sung in his campy, reedy voice with ukelele accompaniment. A glance at a Tiny Tim discography and you realise how much the man loved his brush with fame, and how keen he and his many labels were to recapture it – he reprised his single hit again and again, with increasing indignity.

But according to those who knew Tiny Tim, this eccentric, polite little man was never much interested in stardom of itself, but was motivated instead by a genuine desire to please and delight his listeners. He seems never to have understood rock, or its myriad attitudes and complexities: he liked playing the old songs, bringing out the joy in them. Listening to “Ever Since…”, that desire comes through powerfully: after a whirling birdsong introduction, the song swings fast and very hard, and after your initial shock at its shrillness you come to love Tim’s deliriously happy, wittily expressive singing, too.

I didn’t know anything about Tiny Tim when I heard this song, and I was surprised at how catchy and enduring it was. So much music from the late 60s seems unreachable now, fossilized by reverence or by its own faded poses: I can appreciate it for certain but it doesn’t really say anything to me, and this does. Tim’s music is gimmicky and unfashionable, and the suspicion lingers that he was a troubled man whose difficulties were exploited by a music business keen to sell freaks to the freaks, as is generally the way with ‘outsider art’. But in ten years of distrusting the idea of ‘sincerity’ in music, I’ve hardly ever had my sour contentions slapped down as emphatically as by Tiny Tim.