Gary Wilson - This is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown EP
Gary Wilson self-released the 1983 This is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown EP in extremely limited supply, so we consider ourselves fortunate to have finally found a quality copy of this treasure. Perhaps "fortunate" is overstating our case, since we've vigilantly been searching for this remarkably odd and compelling DIY masterpiece for some time. In any event, the 7-inch vinyl artifact is exceedingly difficult to find*, so we are grateful our efforts have been rewarded, and excited to share it with you.
And just what is it that so interests us in This Is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown? As with all things Gary Wilson, first and foremost it is the unique music that captures our imagination, of course. The two-sided 45 offers four characteristic Wilson tracks, which are all as eccentric as they are brilliant: "Your Smile Was All I Needed" and "Chrome Lover" are found on side A, while the flip side rewards the adventurous listener with "Gary's Theme" and "I Want to Take You on a Sea Cruise".
WMF readers may recognize that we've written about these songs before. The aforementioned songs - with the exception of "Your Smile Was All I Needed" - are included in the 2003 Forgotten Lovers compilation released by the now-defunct Motel Records. Similarly, all four Wilson gems are included in the 1993 self-released Live at CBGB's 45 set, since that rare DIY contribution to the Gary Wilson canon consists of the actual Invasion of Privacy (1980) and Wedding Gown EPs, with new DIY cover art for the ad hoc combo. It's understandable if the reader is a bit confused at this point, but we've written at length explaining some of these iterations here. Lastly, Stones Throw included "Chrome Lover" on the B side of their 2004 vinyl 45 release, which also featured the original demo of the Wilson classic "6.4 = Make Out".**
Also, to avoid confusion (or to further add to it, as the case may be), it should be noted that "Gary's Theme" is the same track as "New York Surf", which Gary has used as an instrumental live set opener since the 1970s. Gary confirmed for WMF that "'New York Surf' was the original title. Wedding Gown was printed years after the original recording and [I had] started using "New York Surf" in my lives shows - thus 'Gary's Theme'".
The cover of This is Why I Wear My Wedding Gown - made through the aid of a typewriter, colored paper, and a photocopier - is Gary's work. The credits offer interesting informational tidbits, including identifying Endicott as the recording location. Though Gary didn't release these tracks until 1983 (by which time he was five years into his "extended vacation" in San Diego that continues as of 2018), he confirmed in 2018 for WMF that "the tracks were recorded in Endicott around 1975, before You Think You Really Know Me.
It is noteworthy that "Bernie Allen" (Bernadette Allen, Gary's partner and sometimes artistic collaborator for thirty-two years until her passing in 2011) is credited for the cover photo, and Gary's childhood home address in Endicott is also included.
In 2018, Gary spoke with WMF and recalled the following about the EP's art and packaging:
"The Wedding Gown EP was a funny one, because when they were originally pressed, they just came back in white sleeves. I had to make my own covers. Back then it was more difficult, because you had to do stuff manually, and I didn't have a computer until around 2004....A lot of those old covers....were done with a copy machine and colored paper."
The back cover also includes four original poems by Gary, echoing the EP's wedding motif (filtered through a weird Wilson lens, of course). Gary himself commented that "those were good" when discussing the poems with WMF in 2018, and confirmed that he authored them.
Despite the characteristically experimental nature of this release, its content has had brief brushes with mainstream pop culture, perhaps most notably when Gary performed an excerpt of "Chrome Lover" on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2010 with the Roots providing musical support (Questlove is a long-time Wilson fan and supporter, even playing Gary's underground classic "Soul Travel" at the 2017 Golden Globes).
*An extensive article about Wilson's catalog in the June 2017 edition of Record Collector Magazine confirms the record's scarcity
**The tracks also appear on the CD version of Mary Had Brown Hair