The hillbilly minimalism of Henry Flynt

I’ve been on a Henry Flynt kick again lately, spurred on this time by the reissue of Graduation, a collection of pieces recorded between 1975 and 1979 for an album that was ultimately shelved until 2001. Give the title track a listen:

I first ran into Flynt’s stuff a few years back when I was collecting materials for my undergrad course on New York’s downtown scenes in the ’60s and ’70s. Flynt — a philosopher and visual artist as well as a musician — fits into a unit on conceptualism, minimalism, Fluxus, Happenings, and the like, and makes an appearance again when we get to a discussion of Arthur Russell’s curatorial stint at The Kitchen, where Flynt played at Russell’s invitation. Here’s a series of interviews in which he recalls his introduction to the proto-Fluxus performances at Yoko Ono’s loft down on Chambers Street, a series curated by La Monte Young. He has quite a bit to say about Young, John Cage, Nam June Paik, the downtown scene in general, and the place of the avant garde in the late 20th century.

You’ll find a killer collection of Flynt materials from the ’60s onward over at, including an interview on one of Kenneth Goldsmith’s WFMU shows, but if you want to hear something Flynt appears on that’s pretty wildly different from the track embedded up top, check this out:

Dinosaur, “Kiss Me Again,” 12-inch, side A, 1978. Composed by Arthur Russell. Remix by Jimmy Simpson.

The personnel for this record blows my mind:

Arthur Russell (cello, organ)
David Byrne (guitar)
Sammy Figueroa (percussion)
Frank Owens (piano)
Henry Flynt (violin)
Peter Gordon (sax)
Larry Saltzman (guitar)
Peter Zummo (trombone)
Myrian Valle (vocals)

Flynt’s performance in the finale is an especially rewarding touch, & it’s kind of thrilling to hear him — and Byrne — on the same record as Russell, Gordon, & Zummo.

Here’s one more, another long one with a terrific ending, to sign off on. Let me know what you think. Jug o’ moonshine, anyone?

3 responses to “The hillbilly minimalism of Henry Flynt”

  1. T-Mo says:

    I love this record and Flynt. He’s such a curious character, a kind of homespun avant gardist. I love to hear him talk, too. I think I’ve seen some other videos of him doing a sort of tour of some key locations in the whole downtown scene of his youth.

  2. Bryan says:

    The conversation on WFMU (linked above) is really great too. Yeah, I just like listening to him talk. Seems half crazy, but in a good way, and it’s fun to hear someone pick bones with Cage, Ono, Young, and company. And the records are terrific. I only recently heard the late 60s one on ubu, w/ all the terrific anti Vietnam stuff. Kind of a missing link between the Fugs and the Velvets.

  3. T-Mo says:

    Just checked out some of that ’60s record. Walter De Maria on drums! Kooky.