ARENA | Archive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film
In September 2013 — the month The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign launched — Campaign founder John Lumea discovered Temple Beautiful, Chuck Prophet’s 2012 album of songs about San Francisco, co-written with Prophet’s longtime collaborator, the poet Kurt Lipschutz. John was especially drawn to the album’s haunting final track, “Emperor Norton in the Last Year of His Life (1880).”
Upon hearing this song, John began to wonder…
Are there other “Emperor songs” — songs about, or in some way inspired by, Emperor Norton?
Thus began a 2-year quest — a quest that ended in an answer: Yes! Yes, there a quite a few Emperor songs.
Enough really good ones, in fact, to fill a compilation album of 16 tracks — 14 songs and 2 spoken-word pieces.
A KICKSTARTER IS COMING!
For the last few years, we’ve been developing this album, titled
IMAGINARY MAJESTY: SONGS & STORIES OF EMPEROR NORTON
We will produce the album in a limited edition of 300 — a vinyl LP of 8-10 tracks packaged together with a digital download code for an “extended album” mp3 of all 16 tracks.
To enhance the appeal of the album as a collectible “get,” the vinyl will be 180g, in lavender. The record will be presented in an old-school 4-panel gatefold cover. Each album will be hand-numbered “[x] of 300.”
We’re delighted that all the musicians, performers and writers we’ve asked to contribute to the album — a Norton anthology, if you will — generously have made their works available gratis. Tapping veins of rock, pop, folk, blues and musical theater — even punk, emo, Americana and Twilight Zone noir — these artists find a variety of expression that has resulted in a collection of songs and stories that is as wonderfully idiosyncratic as the Emperor himself.
The album will feature recordings by:
- Chuck Prophet
- John Kander & Fred Ebb
- Matthew Edwards
- Original Cast of Emperor Norton: The Musical
- Sons of Emperor Norton
- The Short Wave Mystery
- Ragged Claws
- Ron Tintner & Z.Mulls
- Brian Gorman (with the rockers of Rock Band Land)
- Sir Deja Doog
- Rainbow Party for Self-Defense
- Steve Crowley
- The Absinthe Glow
- The Ghetto Defendants
- Sur Lawrence Trupo