I remember reading quite a bit about Tiny Tim, and for years the only song I'd ever heard of his was "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," his only hit song. It's usually thought of as a novelty tune, which I assume is because of his falsetto, the ukulele, and the tongue-popping solo in the middle of the song. I've always been a fan of novelty music, so of course I loved the song, but when I started reading more about him the "joke" aspect of it wore off, and I started hearing it as just a great song. Then, while doing research, I found out that his "Live at Royal Albert Hall" album was for sale, so I made one of my impulse buys and purchased it. When I finally got it in the mail and listened to it I liked every song on it, and I became a fan.
When people hear Tiny Tim they have to ask why anyone would seriously be a fan of his. First of all, I like his delivery on the songs he sings. He doesn't sing everything in a falsetto, and his style of singing is different from the way that everyone else sings. To me, that means a lot. Second, the songs he performs span all the decades of popular music, and he had no problem playing an obscure song from the 20's next to "Stairway to Heaven." And he wasn't ironic about it. He loved all these songs equally and played whatever he felt like, and unlike the Nirvana's and Radiohead's of the world, he would play his major hit anytime someone requested it, which goes into my third reason: he legitimately loved music and performing, and would bust out his ukulele and go to town at the drop of a hat. According to his official website "Tiny made hundreds or perhaps thousands of homemade recordings for people," all without asking for money. Performing meant so much to him that even after his career fizzled he joined a circus to perform, and eventually, as seen on an old Howard Stern New Year's Eve special...he could even be hired to play at birthday parties, wedding receptions, and bar mitzvahs.
One more thing about Tiny Tim...when you listen to his music, you KNOW that he loves what he's doing. You can hear it in him, that he's thrilled to actually be in a studio, doing something that he loves. I heard this kind of enthusiasm in early rock 'n' roll songs, I heard it in the Nuggets box set, and I hear it in Tiny Tim. Go ahead and call the comparison ridiculous. I stand by it. When I listen to his music I can't help but smile because he seems so goddamn happy to be performing for us. I can't say the same about much of my other music, no matter how good it is.
I hate going to concerts, but I'm sad that I never got the chance to see him sing. Beck's my favorite musician, but I have zero desire to ever speak to him. I don't know why, but the vast majority of musicians that I love I never want to meet in person. Tiny Tim is one of the few exceptions. I would have loved to have met him. I don't know what I would have said to him, but I think I would have wanted to just give him a hug and tell him "thanks." For some reason, he's probably the only musician who would welcome that.
God bless Tiny Tim.
God bless Tiny Tim.