The Nomi Song (2004)

Up until two years ago, the name Klaus Nomi meant nothing to me. After a quick first impression he still meant nothing more to me than a cool logo and a falsetto coverer of Elvis songs. But I was promised if I watched Andrew Horn’s documentary The Nomi Song that would change. It definitely did.
My first thought after watching The Nomi Song was: how did I not know this guy existed? Perhaps Nomi’s musical career was too short-lived and strange to stand the test of time. Heck, he wasn’t more than a blip on the New Wave scene during his heyday. Still, one would think an operatic New Waver from space in a rubber suit with giant shoulder pads wouldn’t easily be forgotten.nomi1
Okay, Nomi wasn’t actually from space. He was from Germany. He loved baking pastries and singing opera, and dreamt that one day he’d be able to sing it for a living. He first found his niche in New York City, performing in the New Wave Vaudeville in 1978 (yes, that’s a thing that happened!). As described in the documentary, his earnest arias mixed with space-themed aesthetics captivated the crowd; though I think it would be going a little too far to say a star was born. After that event, though, the word spread about Nomi and he began playing shows, writing songs with friends, and cultivating an out-of-this-world image that somehow landed him as a back-up singer on stage with David Bowie for a Saturday Nite Live performance.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games for Nomi. He had an incredibly difficult time getting a record label to put out his music, and when he finally found one that would, certain of his collaborators (namely Kristian Hoffman of The Mumps) didn’t get the credit (or the money) they deserved. Plenty of bridges were burned, and when Nomi ended up sick with AIDS, a disease no one knew anything about in the early 1980’s, he was abandoned by most of his close friends and died alone in 1983.nomi2
Well, I never said it was an uplifting documentary. His story is incredibly sad, and not only a reminder of what a beast the music industry can be, but also how terribly lonely it must have been to be one of the first victims of AIDS. It made me wish he was still around. It made me want to listen to his records. It made me want to try one of his pastry recipes (a special feature on the dvd) to celebrate his memory. This documentary is definitely worth a watch. Check it out.

2 Responses to “The Nomi Song (2004)”

  1. January 25, 2014 at 1:14 am

    My band gigged with Klaus a few shows in ’80 when he played the mid-west. I liked him very much. And he always packed them in. Sadly, we lost touch and I only found out about his illness after it was too late. When I first watched The Nomi Song I was reminded of how poisonous the underground music scene had become as larger labels took more interest in the new music. I was also reminded of the chilling effect AIDS had on the whole scene. That film was just as much a story of that whole era of underground music as it was the tragic story of one of the most innovative artists of the period.

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