About Larry

Larry Gallagher is a man of many interests, skills, and guitars. Click the "Larry's Writing" link on the left for samples of his many magazine articles -- he has made a full or partial living as a journalist for years. Read below for a biographical essay. Call him if you want a deck built or some other carpentry done. Buy the CDs if you like music and especially if you like music with words.

 

A SHORT, BIASED BIOGRAPHY
(by Rob Riddell, friend and sideman)

Larry was born in Ossining, NY in the 1960s, too early to be a Backstreet Boy, and just in time to catch the scent left in the air by the sexual revolution. Undaunted, he took up the saxophone. In high school he played in jazz bands and started writing songs, none of which he can be forced to play at present. Some songs from the Columbian era (ca. 1981-1985) have survived, and they testify to an already-developed satirical sensibility. For at some point, who the hell knows exactly when, he realized he was a funny dude.

This is pure speculation here, but I'm guessing that this was a double revelation: his lightning wit and mordant sense of absurdity were both a desperate defense against a cruel, uncaring world, and a pretty good way of getting chicks. Stir in an unusual sensitivity to language and tireless energy, sprinkle liberally with existential doubt, set oven on "The Reagan Years," and you have the makings of an artist.

While he was always doing something musical, such as playing with and writing horn charts for Joey Cheezhee and the Velveeta Underground in the late 80s, Larry had a wide-ranging and successful career as a magazine journalist. His best gig, at least that I've heard of, was as a staff writer for Details Magazine, back when it was cool: three or four times a year he would go off for a month or two to work some crazy job and then write about it. The first CD cover photo captures Larry when he labored under the Golden Arches (where he reluctantly turned down a promotion); he also manned a fishing boat off Alaska and gutted cows for a meat-packing company. He wrote for Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, and a bunch of others - about the rock scene in LA, yoga in India, and smoking psychedelic toad sweat. A pretty nice match for such a peripatetic and edgy intellect. But not enough, apparently.

In 1996, Larry tossed it all, shaved his head, and joined a Zen Buddhist monastery on a mountaintop just outside of L.A. He stayed for nearly three years, living as a monk, complete with robes and begging bowl. (One of his fellow meditators was a certain famous sex-god Canadian songwriter/poet whom Larry refuses to let me mention by name.) He has jested that all he got out of this experience was a (wise and lovely) girlfriend and his song "I'm Deep (Will You Sleep with Me?)." But I would add something else: a hairstyle. Haha, that was a joke. Fallen monkhood is really too complex a subject to go into here. But it's clear to me and most of his friends that Larry's exploration of the limits of consciousness and discipline has distinctively deepened his outlook and his art. Certainly the songs he's written these last few years have been as touching and masterful as anything he'd done before.

Since '99, Larry's been living in San Francisco, making ends meet with carpentry and writing. Impending stardom continues to impend, but meantime he's still engaged in his myriad passions - including gardening, cooking, reed-organ restoration, fixing everything, and through and above it all, music.

Just underneath that self-deprecating exterior is an amazingly versatile and eclectic musician. His formal training is limited to saxophone in highschool and, recently, classical flute, but Larry's also one of the most tasteful and nimble guitarists I've come across. But it's really his expressive, vulnerable voice and poetic precision that set Larry apart. I've seen him bring a roomful of people to their knees with laughter, and minutes later hold them spellbound with a sad and tender love song.

Along with all of Larry's friends, I've always been irked that his music wasn't as well-known as, say, that of Richard Thompson or Tom Lehrer or Lyle Lovett. He belongs up there with those guys! Well, now that we've squeezed two masterful CDs out of him, we'll see about that.

For me (if we can finally talk about me for a moment?), it has been a rare privilege to befriend and play music with Larry. His honesty, artistry, and courage are, I think, an inspiration to anyone who comes to know him. And after some consideration, I think I've come up with the best thing I can say about his songs: they are so Larry.