Enter the name for this tabbed section: NOT AVAILABLE
Stacks Image 1824

First Release
LP - 1978 - Ralph Records - RR1174 - US
Singing Simple Melodies That No One Ever Heard (Not Available)
October 12, 1978

Not Available is the album The Residents have been teasing for years. They said they’d release it only after they forgot it existed, but as far as I can tell they never stopped talking about it. Perhaps their definition of “forget” differs from mine. It’s actually their second album, recorded between Meet The Residents and The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, and that’s why I’ve hoped it never gets released. Those albums are immature, and do more to shock than to impress. Fingerprince is where they first glimpsed what they should be doing, and their last two releases have shown promise of things to come. So why take the time now to revisit the past?
Because it’s incredible, that’s why.
I am absolutely floored by this album. It is melancholy and beautiful, and there is no reason to have hidden it away. The music is alien but inviting. It feels like returning to the womb, in that there is something very natural in its strangeness. Sounds and voices blend in wholly unexpected yet perfectly obvious ways. This is truly a masterwork. I can’t believe that The Residents had this album on one shelf and The Third Reich ‘n’ Roll on the other, and they chose to suppress the former and release the latter.
But I must believe it, because that is what happened. So all I can do is speculate why. The most realistic reason is that this album is too revealing. Although there are no specific details that could identify anyone, this album feels deeply personal. It is reenacting somebody’s personal anguish, though in a coded fashion.
The story – at least what I can make of it – tells of a young couple who feels their love is pure and special, but as time goes on difficulties arise in the form of questioning just how unique their situation is. The boy is making these realizations, the girl believes he is rejecting her and in defense she rejects him first. Her belief is understandable to us, the mature objective listener, but the boy is thrown into sadness and despair. Though presented as an ensemble piece, the story is clearly from his point of view (we don’t hear from the girl beyond Part One), and we follow his confusion and anguish, his failed attempts to fix the situation, and his eventual realization that this “one true love” was really just an early, intense infatuation. While his feelings were true, their intensity was an unfortunate side effect of being young and discovering physical passion before the mind matures to comprehend it.
Basically the exact same “unique” story that everyone experiences. The artwork is aware of this: the figure, beautifully rendered in three-dimensional shading, is, indeed, a simple line drawing.  Content-wise nothing is new, and told in a straightforward manner it would be incredibly dull. But the almost impenetrable wall of inside jokes and personal references (the Porcupine, Catbird, and Enigmatic Foe clearly have meaning for the author) keeps the audience from dismissing the album entirely as the pathetic whining of some rock and roll star. But at the same time the lyrics are not so dense that they devolve into bad surrealism – the audience can extract meaning, and identify with portions of it.
It may be that I am entirely wrong with my understanding of the story, and am only projecting my own first experience of “one true love” coming out of high school and into college – but that is precisely what any great story is supposed to do. I tell my students this whenever I can: to make your stories universally appealing, do not make your details vague, but rather use very specific details that just hint at ambiguity. It’s an easy concept to understand, more difficult to master, and The Residents have done it. Not Available tells my story. It tells your story. We’re both thrilled to hear it. Interestingly, only the person who wrote it – who actually lived this particular series of events – will find it boring.

This is a post from
Gio's blog.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: credits - tracks
with guests:
S. Lewis
R. Paulsen
• Part One: Edweena
• Part Two: The Making of a Soul
• Part Three: Ship's A Goin' Down
• Part Four: Never Known Questions
• Epilogue
Enter the name for this tabbed section: additional notes
Note: Although this album was recorded in 1974 and was The Residents' second full length recording, they decided to put it in storage and not release it until they forgot it existed in 1978.

Enter the name for this tabbed section: lyrics
Part One: Edweena
Coming into column nation is a gracious thing
A stirring and a whirring and a broken widow(er)'s pain;
It's causing easy ought to just leave a lust alone
But when a friend has shrunken skin where do you throw the bone?
(The matter that's been spoken to's a fragrant little thing
It's open and was known to need a token diamond ring.)

Young Girl:
Investing space without a place;
Confusing grace with outer space.

To please the breeze you freeze the seize,
Combat disease and bend the knees;
And if explicit matters naught,
Extend the grin -- but don't get caught.
Now Uncle Remus, Uncle Remus, where have you been we say
(We saw the end of Uncle mend and turn into into today).
But now they say there's room no more for such a friendly friendly whore

Uncle Remus:
Yes, Easter Island isn't my land coming home once more.

But a sentence existing inside of a rhyme
Is only just a token left spoken in time

Uncle Remus:
Can tomorrow be more than the end of today?

Young Girl:
Or do posies just bloom for the feel of a may?
Investing space without a place;
Confusing grace with outer space.

The way is a never for severing two,
(For) beginnings are endings for all but a few.

Part Two: The Making of a Soul
Edweena went to calumet and left from there to college;
She took along a porcupine whose name was known as knowledge;
Now their relationship was fraught with pangs of loving hunger.
The Porcupine could question all, but all she new was slumber.

A huge easy cozy wants our kiss to triumph,
But unbelievable admits --
Some questions receive a guarantee to shake you up.
How much marriage urges a windmill to pinch infinity?
Is a magic hid-a-bed the final home of Spanish fire?
Is firm corn merrier under gifts of less important love?
We wonder.
But fantasy moves ahead;
For the iceman just took a turn for the better
And a small object flies from his mouth;
A daring, jewel scales down the belted ear system
And you have the modular optimistic silver original.
Welcome to the offshoots of Jupiter.

Edweena never knowing why her friend would ramble so
She shut him out and left a pout to bleed upon the snow.

Mourning Glories open only after noon begins;
The open and the broken have begun to blend again.
They freeze a shape about the nape
Of nectar and of knee;
They leave a sleeve, they weave a grieve fox
Mourning's never free.

Uncle Remus:
The aching and the breaking are the making of a soul.
(The empties that have been returned relieve us of a goal).

Now who is gone and who is right
And who is left to see
For who is left is just a few
Can two be more than three?

Part Three: Ship's a Goin' Down
Why not live?

The catbird shrilled!

And give a guy a chance!
For soon the moon will sing a tune and I'll be left to dance.

Uncle Remus:
Well, strangers have left on longer trains before.

Yes, shake and shout and cause a spout to be a mockery!
Exist inside a lemon drop and cause no word to be.
If after all this oleo a speck of dust exists,
We'll set aside a common tide 'twixt friend and who he's kissed.

Enigmatic Foe:
He thought the end was overdue, but daybroke him instead,
And consequently what he read was never what he said.
And don't you never,

Said the ever Enigmatic Foe

Enigmatic Foe:
Lose your cool, or after school,
They'll find me home in bed.

What hoe you rake, you fake a taking and a mating moo;
Confuse to lose and quake to break are simple rules to you.
Why send a curly head to bed and know her secrets too?

Enigmatic Foe:
Glue it down you dripping clown, and be not busy, too;
If a needy, if a seedy lets him come on through.
Keys are not thrust open spores, and neither is a broken store!
There are clothes that haven't been worn,
Feet that haven't been shorn,
There's causes that haven't been given a principle.
Need I say more?

Uncle Remus:
The soft spoken edge was a close fit
With the warped open cracks so many.

The quick brain drained the main
And the ships a goin' down me mates,
The ship she's a goin' down.
The ship' she's a goin' down.

Part Four: Never Known Questions
The cloud continues and the spot
Diminishes without even the

Hint of a glow.
Is glowing a continuous process
Or does the spot find its
Way out where it needs to be.
Spot the rot, oh spot the rot,
Oh spot the rot we say.
Spot the rot they tell the
Tot while feeding him some say.
Spot the rot, oh spot the
Rot and then you'll be okay.
Spot the rot, oh spot the
Rot, but still you'd better pray.

When Edweena made me mushrooms,
She ate the grate and ground the groom;
My mother made me eat boysenberries,
But my gracious sakes just ate me first.
Calling cards and polling wards are just to many... See?
Calling cards and winking bards are just a way to see.
Calling cards and winking bards are just the way to be?
Falling guards and winking bards are just a need today.
Falling guards and winking bards are just my needs. Okay? Okay?
Okay! Okay! Okay! Okay! Okay!...
To show or
To be shown
Is a question never, never known not even by many to exist.

The son of the know thing flew into today.
He left in a hurry -- had little to say;
But fore the barking sub side in his wake,
He helped out with vestiges sweeter than cake:

The Son:
Opulent givings are seldom a dread.
They help you relieve all them lies in your head.
But for the giving begets a sure vain,
Leave open a window and let in some rain.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: liner notes

In 1978, the “official” word was that The Residents had stated NOT AVAILABLE could never be released. The group claimed that they had recorded their musical film noir masterpiece in secrecy as a way of exercising their “theory of obscurity” to its fullest, and, In strict accordance with the theory, the work could never be released until its creators no longer recalled its existence.

But those steeped in the lore of The Residents’ milieu have long known that the recording of the album was in realty an exercise in group therapy. The real reason that the band wished to deny its existence was the fact that they felt that the work was too personally revealing. ∫

What is not generally known, though, is that, as part of their therapeutic process, The Residents actually considered the idea of creating an operetta based on NOT AVAILABLE. Casting the primary roles with the actual inhabitants of the group’s internal drama, they then began a series of loosely structured “rehearsals” with those players enacting the principal roles of Edweena, The Porcupine, The Catbird, Uncle Remus and Enigmatic Foe.

By enacting this pseudo drama within a psycho drama, the internal conflict, still not completely understood by all of the participants, became much more clear, as the player/characters instinctively acted out their roles. The love triangle between Edweena, Porcupine and Catbird became obvious (“Can two be more than three?”) as well as Remus’s role as the distant and objective commentator (“The aching and the breaking are the making of a soul.”). The purpose of the Enigmatic Foe was of course still unclea´r when the rehearsals began, but once the Porcupine’s breakdown was known (“He thought the end was overdue, but day broke him instead...”), the role of the noble Foe, as Porcupine’s stand-in for the operetta’s climatic duel scene, became clear.

As the faux piece reached its peak, the trio - two holding pistols while the third hid in a bush - came to the realization that the lovely young Edweena had eloped with the independently wealthy and no longer uninvolved Uncle Remus. At this point, the tension, previously thicker than frozen mayonnaise, was shattered by the Porcupine, emerging from the shrubbery to paraphrase Shakespeare (“To show or to be shown...”).

With illusions of love shattered, the three were then able to forgive, embrace and even welcome the traitorous Remus back to the fold, once he had returned from his unexpected honeymoon.


Not Available was not meant to be released. It was an attempt to take N. Senada's Theory of Obscurity to its logical conclusion. Senada maintained that an artist does his or her best work in isolation, free froms the influence of an audience. If the artist is modifying his or her ideas to suit the tastes of the audience the work is being corrupted.
This album was not to be released until the band themselves had forgotten completely about its existence, so that there would be no potential audience to influence its development. The idea worked well -- the music in Not Available, a mini-opera made up of four "acts" with an epilogue, is excellent and very distinctive.
The eventual publication of Not Available came about as the result of a problem with the band. In 1978, The Residents were working on Eskimo, a much-touted major release. However, after a disagreement with The Cryptic Corporation, the band disappeared to England with the Eskimo master tapes. Needing something to release, the Cryptics pulled "some old tapes" off the shelves and released them as Not Available, complete with ads in the UK music press announcing "Now It Can Be Sold." The Residents weren't bothered much by this deviation from their plan, however, since the 1978 decision by someone else to release the album couldn't affect the philosophical conditions under which it was recorded in 1974.


This, the second album recorded by the Residents, is perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful of all their albums. Its was bounded by the “Theory of Obscurity” and “could only be released when the creators themselves had completely forgotten about its existence.”

For whatever reasons, the album was eventually released four years later. Some have complained that this release was blasphemous and that the theory should have been respected. Let me assure you that no crime was committed. The lyrics are heavily veiled in an acoustic and linguistic gauze. Sometimes there is rhyme, and sometimes there is reason. There are times at which we catch glimpses of these lyrics through the veil, however their meaning tends to speak more directly to the soul, and for the most part are not available to the analytical mind. When listening to this album, one realizes that its obscurity remains fully intact.

The music is full of many rich and varied themes. Its juxtaposition of the sad, the beautiful, and the unusual, creates deep emotional currents that with proper navigation will lead you to interesting places. There is an innocence about this album that lays aside all pretense and bears open their soul.

We hear a hypnotic mesh of percussion, strings, horns, and voices. We find ourselves carried upon waves of unfamiliarity which lead us to seductive places where female voices and pianos sweetly wonder about the blooming of posies. There are also places of loneliness as felt in these words:

The sentence existing inside of a rhyme, is only just a token left spoken in time.

In “The Making of a Soul” there exists a most beautiful and delicately played piano passage. It sounds as though they were playing on their grandmother’s seldom used piano in the basement while she was away. Later, lamenting strings join in with the piano, and a peculiar person shows up with some questions that are guaranteed to shake you up.

We make our way through the turbulent “Ship’s A’Going Down”, spiraling ever downward, descending into the whimpering depths from which there appears to be no return, until at last we find ourselves with “Never Known Questions”. A lush resting place.

When you look into the emotions contained in the music on this album, they speak clearly, and there is no question of obscurity. This album is simultaneously sad, happy, and beautiful. Particularly as found in its climactic conclusion. Grandma’s sad and innocent piano reappears and after a valiant attempt at trying to communicate the passage of calling cards and winking bards and falling guards, there is a certain feeling of resignation as we find ourselves, along with The Residents, throwing up our hands and saying “OK”.

An angelic farewell march fades in and takes over while the singing continues in time with the new music. “OK, OK”. There is a sense of finality and acceptance. As the march continues to play, another refrain emerges.

To exist to show, or to be shown? Is a question never, never known.

As the music slowly fades out, so do the lyrics. They leave us, receding faintly, with the words “to exist ... to exist”. The music is sad because it is time to say farewell, as we all must do someday. It is happy, for having had the chance to exist. And it is beautiful, because it is.

- David Willenbrink

 CD Liner Notes

While there are a million stories about The Residents, one of the more intriguing concerns the recording of their second LP, Not Available. Early in the career of the band, the "theory of obscurity" was introduced to them by the German avant-guardist, N. Senada. The plan called for the creation of complete projects that were literally not intended to be heard by anyone other than its creators. The Residents realized the truth in this ideal: that music really was difficult to record without considering the audience. They thought the experience gained by completing such a project would prove worthwhile toward achieving an independent attitude toward music. N. Senada had also been quick to point out that such a project reduces the amount of artistic clutter that is quickly swallowing the planet.
Not Available was completed in 1974 and stored. Several years later, in 1978, The Residents were severely over schedule on their opus, Eskimo. The final release deadline set by the record company arrived only to find that The Residents had fled to Europe and taken Eskimo with them. In desperation, the record company pulled Not Available from the masters room and released it. Surprisingly, The Residents were not upset by this fact since it in no way violated their original intent. Eventually Eskimo was retrieved from the bank vault in London but, ...well... that's another story.