Some Quick Thoughts On Peter Ivers

A few days ago I started reading “In Heaven Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre,” by Josh Frank and Charlie Buckholtz (Free Press, $25). I had read something a couple of weeks ago that piqued my interest about Ivers and this book, although admittedly, I really knew nothing about him other than being peripherally aware of New Wave Theatre.

There are a couple of things that so far have really made an impression on me: First is the incredible wealth of talent that came Harvard during that era (the late 1960’s). Ivers’ classmates and friends included Harold Ramis, Stockard Channing. Doug Kenney, and Tommy Lee Jones. And those are just the bigger names that I was immediately familiar with.

The other thing that absolutely stunned me was a title bestowed on Ivers by none other than Muddy Waters. One night in 1968, Ivers and then-girlfriend Channing were at the Cambridge Blues Club in Boston, watching Waters perform. “At one point between songs, Muddy Waters gestured to Peter and began to speak about him,” the authors write. Waters tells the crowd about his previous encounters with Ivers, including times the two had played together. “Looking out over the small but devoted audience in the smoky room, Waters referred to Peter as ‘the greatest harp player alive.’”

A white kid from Harvard was “the greatest harp player alive”? No doubt about it, I wanted to hear this. Ivers’ music is sort of hard to find, even on the Internet. eMusic has a couple of his later albums, but they’re mistitled as being by “Pete Rivers.” After some digging, though, I managed to find a couple of things I wanted to share here. Both of Ivers’ songs here display his harmonica talent, which is quite amazing.

The other two songs are versions of “In Heaven (Everything is Fine),” the song that lent its name to the book I’m reading. David Lynch asked Ivers to write a song for the 1977 movie Eraserhead and “In Heaven” was what he came up with. The first version is the original from the movie; the other is the Pixie’s version, from a BBC broadcast.

I’ve Got a Sex Crush.mp3
Harmonica Solo.mp3
In Heaven (Everything is Fine).mp3
In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song).mp3

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