After having a lengthy discussion about making music with my friend Cory, he recommended that i check out Peter Laughner's solo stuff. So i ebayed and google-searched. But i found nothin. i have no idea how to find this stuff. In fact, i'm not really sure that it was ever released. So i really don't know how you can get this other than finding a friend to make you a copy (thanks Cory)...
To understand his music--or any music for that matter--it helps to understand something about Peter Laughner's life. Music, after all is an expression of some kind of interaction between the world around and the musician.
i only know what i remember Cory telling me after getting wasted at the Bug Jar and from what little i've read on the intergeek. But Peter Laughner grew up in the 60's obsessively listening to The Velvet Underground--basically a worshiper Lou Reed. He was friends with Lester Bangs and wrote about rock'n'roll for Creem Magazine. He played in a sweet punk band called Rocket From the Tombs which was pretty much the precursor to The Dead Boys.
In a lot of ways though, it seems like Peter Laughner was caught in a really tough period. He was witnessing the death of probably the most dynamic period of music in US history and the ushering in of....disco. All he wanted to do was make music and no one ever appreciated anything he did. He was a sweet guitar player but wanted to play punk-driven rock'n'roll. He never got along with any of his bands. And when he tried to perform solo, the only venues really were coffee shops. And of course they hated him because he was basically playing punk music--not exactly complimentary of the latte.
You can see how a situation like this could lead to disaster.
Well, in 1977, Peter Laughner came home to his Cleveland apartment, pressed play on his tape recorder, recorded what is now called Nocturnal Digressions and then died that night of organ failure. Cory calls it suicide and after listening to the album, i think he's right.
Peter Laughner was barely coherent. He even tells us in between songs that it's from all the drugs, alcohol and Lucky Strikes. His voice is raspy from the beginning and deteriorates throughout the course of his recording. It's clear that he's walking himself into the grave.
Then there's the songs that he decides to play. From Television's "Blank Generation" to The Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes", it says a lot about Peter Laughner's life at that time. When you're listening, you can almost see him playing in your head (In fact, you're probably looking similar).
Peter Laughner chooses mostly covers to play. i think this makes a lot of sense given the way his music was received, not to mention what a fan of rock'n'roll he was. He almost seems to be paying his last tributes: Television, Robert Johnson, the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison....etc.
Peter Laughner ends the album with an abbreviated version of "Summer Time Blues" rushing through to finish before the tape cuts off. And it does. And that's the end.
The result is a mix of "i don't give a fuck" punk, folk, and post World War II blues. The recording quality is horrible. His guitar playing is amazing. And he plays the songs beautifully. But more than that, it expresses (maybe better than anything i have ever heard) alienation from the world around you, and alienation from yourself. It expresses being depressed and being pissed off about it. It's what music is about.