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Andy Warhol Chronology

Andy Warhol's Messy Lives

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From Andy Warhol Screen Tests: The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One (Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné) by Callie Angell:

"In 1964 the writer Joe LeSueur, who had been the roommate of the poet Frank O'Hara since the mid-1950s, collaborated with Warhol on an idea for a feature film to be called Messy Lives. LeSueur had the idea of using 'a dozen screen writers who'll use roughly the same sets of characters, each writer setting up a different story,' and invited a number of downtown poets including O'Hara, Diane di Prima, Edwin Denby, and Ron Padgett to write dialogue. In January 1965 Le Sueur wrote to Warhol suggesting they postpone production for a month or two, since he was now busy with a full-time job. No footage for Messy Lives was apparently ever shot, and the project was eventually abandoned, although some parts of the script were completed, including sections by Denby and Padgett. Frank O'Hara and Frank Lima also wrote a piece called 'Love on the Hoof' for the Messy Lives project, later published in O'Hara's collection of selected plays, Amorous Nightmares of Delay. LeSueur said later that he doubted that Warhol was ever serious about the film, 'although it was hard to tell with him.'" (AD117)

From The Party's Over Now by John Gruen:

"Self-destructive during the last years of his life, Frank still [O'Hara] still seemed indestructible. His death came as an enormous shock to all of us gathered under the great elms at The Springs cemetery. Larry Rivers spoke, giving a description of Frank in his hospital bed two or three days before he died. It was a hair-raising evocation of broken bones, blue skin, and horrible wounds. During the speech Frank's sister fainted and had to be carried to her car... As I stood in the cemetery, part of the large semicircle around Frank's grave, I recalled my own last meeting with Frank, which had occurred some two months earlier.

There had been a plan afoot to make an underground movie, the script of which would be written by Frank [O'Hara]'s writer friends. I believe it was Joe Le Sueur who dreamed up the idea for the film, which was to be called Messy Lives. Frank, John Ashbery, Arnold Weinstein, Kenneth Koch, and a dozen other writers and poets would contribute scenes. It was to have starred the people who wrote the various scenes as well as all of our painter friends. I was asked to write a song which would open the movie and which would be a parody on all of those Hollywood films that start out with a song under the credit titles. The words were to be supplied by Frank, and so he came over to our apartment one evening ready to write the lyrics for a song called 'Messy Lives.' He came without any idea of what he would write, deciding to make up his poem on the spur of the moment, as I would also make up the music.

I handed Frank some blank paper an da pencil, while I began to find an appropriate melody to launch the song. In a few minutes we had the first line: 'We lead such messy lives.' From then on it became smooth sailing, as Frank wrote stanza after stanza, and I invented new musical phrases. When it was all finished, I dragged out my tape recorder. We must have taped the song ten or twelve times, refining it here and there, although Frank never altered his lyrics. As I stood in the tiny cemetery of The Springs the melody of that silly song and Frank's voice singing it came vividly into my head." (PO152-4)

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