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Have You Heard This Man?

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Over his career, Thomas has inspired musicians to try things they might not have thought possible. As Gonzales, a Paris-based musician whose new album, Soft Power, comes out this spring from Mercury/Universal, says, Thomas “has the balls” to combine a “slick cocktail instrument ensemble with his decidedly unslick voice.”

His popularity is necessarily bound up in obscurity. People like to think of him as their find. Still, Thomas has not abandoned hope that his music will earn him a bit of money and perhaps even real fame. “People tell me almost all the big ones got famous outside the U.S. [first]. My friends say, ‘You’re going up the ladder,’ and they don’t mean to heaven, either.” When success comes, Thomas believes it may—at last—bring marriage. “I’ll be meeting more people and one of them will probably want to hook up for love or companionship. It’s more than possible.”

Thomas’s new album is a collaboration with musician Taylor Savvy, a Canadian living in Berlin. In many ways, Savvy could not be more different from Thomas. His specialty is electro-rock, and, as he puts it, “I like to wear makeup and stage-dive and do all that shit.” Yet Savvy and his friends became fascinated with Thomas’s music in the nineties (the first bootleg Savvy heard can be traced to an album Thomas gave to a teenager named Eric Columbus who lived on West 76th) and spent a lot of time speculating on who he was. “We thought that Gordon Thomas might have saved the life of a child of some record-company CEO—like the child was drowning and he just jumped into the lake—and the CEO repaid him with studio time.”

The two musicians were eventually introduced by Canadian filmmakers Stacey DeWolfe and Malcolm Fraser, who, after hearing Thomas’s music, went on to make a documentary about him. Thomas calls his collaborator a “musical genius” but, oddly enough, insists that Savvy in no way changed his sound. The album will be sold via his new Website, GordonThomas.com, created by the filmmakers. No one, it seems, can stay off the grid forever. Besides, Thomas says, he has decided to stop giving away his work for free on the street. “Things are finally starting to take off. It’s time to start selling some albums.”


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