Some friends threw a birthday party for my older brother this weekend. As a gift, my mom booked legendary Santa Cruz street musician Frank Lima, better known as The Great Morgani!
Lima’s journey from buttoned-up stockbroker to freewheeling busker is quite compelling, and he remains one of my all-time favorite interviewees. (His story is a highlight of Going Coastal, of course.) I hadn’t had the chance to speak at length with him since then, and it was a treat to see him play in a private setting. His banter was entertaining, and he played everything from the theme to Fellini’s Amarcord to Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End of Love.”
(I wish it had occurred to me to ask my mom to suggest some songs when she called him. Lima is famous for learning all sorts of tunes by ear, and it would have been great to floor my brother with something out of left field. Our musical tastes are wildly different, but he did introduce me to the Gap Band. To this day, I’m sure it’s the only music we have in common. “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” a la Morgani would have been pretty cool. Then again, I felt really guilty when I learned the aftermath of one innocent interview question after all this time. I had asked Lima what he does about hecklers who ask him for “Stairway To Heaven” or “Free Bird,” and he had replied that he was working on a French waltz arrangement of “Stairway To Heaven.” He felt committed to it, he said, once he saw his remarks in print. “Stairway” did sound very pretty on Saturday night. Lima even threw in a few polka-style measures of “Free Bird.” That’s dedication, folks!)
For you out-of-towners out there, the following video will get you up to speed on the man, the myth…and the outfits!