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Robert Crumb

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For a while I was most well known for that [the Janis Joplin album cover], and for “Keep on Truckin’.” That was a drawing that came out of LSD trips, and the words came from a Blind Boy Fuller song from 1935. I drew it in my sketchbook and then for Zap. It sort of caught the popular imagination. It became a horrible popular thing.
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"R. Crumb, The Art of Comics No. 1", The Paris Review, Summer 2010, No. 193.

 
Robert Crumb

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War is not popular. It may seem popular in the short run, when there appears to be an immediate victory and everyone is gloating but war is not popular.War is not popular. People get killed, and body bags end up coming back. War is very unpopular, and it is not the politically smart thing to do.

 
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I took some bad acid in November of 1965, and the after effect left me crazy and helpless for six months. My mind would drift into a place that was very electrical and crackly, filled with harsh, abrasive, low grade, cartoony, tawdry carnival visions. There was a nightmarish mechanical aspect to everyday life. My ego was so shattered, so fragmented that it didn't get in the way during what was the most unself-conscious period of my life. I was kind of on automatic pilot and was still constantly drawing. Most of my popular characters—Mr. Natural, Flaky Foont, Angelfood McSpade, Eggs Ackley, The Snoid, The Vulture Demonesses, Av' n' Gar, Shuman the Human, the Truckin' guys, Devil Girl—all suddenly appeared in the drawings in my sketchbook in this period, early 1966. Amazing! I was relieved when it was finally over, but I also immediately missed the egoless state of that strange interlude. LSD put me somewhere else. I wasn't sure where. All I know is, it was a strange place. Psychedelic drugs broke me out of my social programming. It was a good thing for me, traumatic though, and I may have been permanently damaged by the whole thing, I'm not sure. I see LSD as a positive, important life experience for me, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.

 
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Ever since I was a little boy, I would study composition. And it was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky that influenced me the most. If you take an album like Nutcracker Suite, every song is killer, every one. So I said to myself, 'Why can't there be a pop album where every...' — People used to do an album where you'd get one good song, and the rest were like B-sides, they'd call them "album songs" — and I'd say to myself 'Why can't every one be like a hit song? Why can't every song be so great that people would want to buy it if you could release it as a single?. So I always tried to strive for that. That was the purpose for the next album.

 
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Well, I think it is accidental. It’s just something I started doing naturally and it had a lot to do with reading. I think that Dylan Thomas, his prose and poetry, was a big influence on me. Just his use of words… He would use so many odd words: like these three- and four-syllable words that you just don’t normally hear. And they’re not used in a manner that sets the text apart from the reader. Rather they’re drawing the reader in. It’s entirely based on the alliteration of the word itself—onomatopoeia and things like that. I feel like a lot of the words I use don’t stick out in the song because they keep the feel of the song in mind. The rhythm—that’s the primary thing. They’re put in there for rhythm and alliteration as much as they are for meaning. And as long as they are not used extraneously, they’re real lightning rods for people listening to the lyrics. If the words are really helping out the rhythm of the song then all they’re going to do is draw the listener in even more

 
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I have no program, I have no five-year plan. ... It doesn’t mean that you shouldn't have one! I just move from hotel to hotel, and from bar to bar, and by the grace of the One above occasionally a song comes, and I remember sitting at this particularly obnoxious Polynesian restaurant where they served a kind of coconut drink that was particularly lethal and sinister which contained no alcohol but a certain chemical that demoralized you entirely. And I remember writing on one of their very badly designed napkins, "I remember you well at the Chelsea Hotel..." so I dedicate this song to one of the great singers, Janis Joplin.

 
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