As Wreckless Eric he needs little introduction — he wrote and recorded the classic Whole Wide World and had a hit with it back in 1977. Since then it’s been a hit for countless other artists including The Monkees, Cage The Elephant and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. Eric’s version featured in the 2022 Expedia / Superbowl / Ewan MacGregor travel ad, and the Cage The Elephant version is the new theme tune for the podcast Smartless. As Eric Goulden it’s a little more complicated – a musician, artist, writer, recording engineer and producer, he didn’t like either the music business, the mechanics of fame, or the name he’d been given to hide behind, so he crawled out of the spotlight and disappeared into the underground. He went on to release twenty something albums in forty something years under various names – The Len Bright Combo, Le Beat Group Electrique, The Donovan Of Trash, The Hitsville House Band, and with his wife as one half of Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, finally realising he was stuck with the name Wreckless Eric.
This new album, Leisureland, marks a return to his more ramshackle world of recording – guitars and temperamentally unpredictable analogue keyboards, beatboxes and loops in conjunction with a real drummer, Sam Shepherd, who he met in a local coffee shop in Catskill, New York. He was delighted to find that Sam lived around the corner and could easily drop by to put drums on newly recorded tracks. The recording methodology may have been Contemporary American but the subject matter is almost entirely British. It also contains more instrumentals than any of his previous albums.
In our conversation, Eric talks about the process of making Leisureland, which came about during the Covid lockdown and his near death experience. In his dead-pan, yet jocular way, Eric recounts how he wasn’t aware of his critical state, laying in a hospital bed while everyone around him thought he was about to die. When asked how he is doing, Eric’sretort is, “It’s great to be alive!” You can hear his verve, his reflection on still being here in Leisureland. This is Wreckless Eric recognizing who he is, sharing a lifetime of ideas and observations. Wreckless Eric Is Wreckless Eric, Again.
Frequent Life Elsewhere contributor, Dr. Binoy Kampmark gives his assessment of two controversial, but very different figures who died within days of each other. Daniel Ellsberg was an American political activist, economist, and United States military analyst. While employed by the RAND Corporation, he precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers. In January 1973, Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 along with other charges of theft and conspiracy, carrying a maximum sentence of 115 years. Because of governmental misconduct and illegal evidence-gathering (which were committed by the same people who were later involved in the Watergate Scandal), and his defense by Leonard Boudin and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. dismissed all charges against Ellsberg in May 1973. Ellsberg age 92, died on June 16, 2003. Theodore Kaczynski also known as the Unabomber, was an American mathematician and domestic terrorist. He was a mathematics prodigy, but abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski murdered three individuals and injured 23 others in a nationwide mail bombing campaign against people he believed to be advancing modern technology and the destruction of the natural environment. He authored Industrial Society and Its Future, a 35,000-word manifesto and social critique opposing industrialization, rejecting leftism, and advocating for a nature-centered form of anarchism. In 1971, Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water near Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills to become self-sufficient. In 1995, Kaczynski sent a letter to The New York Times promising to “desist from terrorism” if the Times or The Washington Post published his manifesto, in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary in attracting attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies that require mass organization. The FBI and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno pushed for the publication of the essay, which appeared in The Washington Post in September 1995. Upon reading it, Kaczynski’s brother, David, recognized the prose style and reported his suspicions to the FBI. After his arrest in 1996, Kaczynski—maintaining that he was sane—tried and failed to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wished him to plead insanity to avoid the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to all charges in 1998 and was sentenced to eight consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole. Kaczynski died in prison of a reported suicide on June 10, 2023. Dr. Kampmark also gives his overview of what is happening in Russia and what should be believe from the nonstop, breaking news alerts. Plus, Kampmark provides an update on the status of Julian Assange.