The greatest legend you’ve never heard of

Strange weekend here at acme eclectic.  I hadn’t intended for it to be a book review weekend, but sometimes these things just happen.

As an added bonus, I can’t even take credit for this particular recommendation.  That actually goes to one Mr. Ed Vedder (courtesy of this post on pearljam.com).

What book is it that spurred Vedder’s interest in passing along the good word to his fans and followers?  Not one of the variety that you might think.  The book in question is The Old Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend, authored by Dan DeLuca. 

And here’s why you should care.  The Leatherman is one of those characters that make up the fabric of America.  His legend may be of the regional variety – his old stomping grounds in the Northeast – but the mystery of the man that attracted the people of his day to immortalize Leatherman continues to reverberate.  The study of his soul allows us just a little more insight into the human spirit.

And, if that sounds deep, well I guess it is. 

Leatherman

Leatherman, circa 1885

For more on Leatherman, check out this short documentary (Part I, Part II, & Part III) from 1984.  Originally shown on Connecticut Public Television, and posted to YouTube by Motion Inc., the production might be a little dated but does a great job of whetting the appetite to learn more about Leatherman.

So, you’ve got the book.  You’ve got the documentary.  And, as a bonus, you’ve also got a blistering live performance of Pearl Jam’s ode to Leatherman here.

Here are the lyrics to Pearl Jam’s “Leatherman”, available as a very obscure b-side befitting the very obscure subject of the song:

I heard about a man to whom I may be related. He’s Leatherman.
Died a long time ago in the 1880’s. Leatherman. Leatherman.
Covered with leather but it wasn’t tight. Underneath a moon in the woods at night.
Making the rounds ten miles a day. Once a month they’d spot him and here’s what they’d say:

“Here he comes. He’s a man of the land. He’s Leatherman
Smile on his face. Axe in his pack.
He’s Leatherman. Leatherman. Leatherman.”

Comes out of the caves once a day to be fed.
He wasn’t known to say much but, “Thanks for the bread.”

So, modern day I walk my way with my jacket faded just like a man of leather whom I may be related.
Rolled cigarette for which he’d ask for a light.
Appear to be an animal. Yet, so polite.
Making the rounds ten miles a day. Once a month they’d spot him and here’s what they’d say:

“Here he comes he’s a man of the land. He’s Leatherman.
Smile on his face. Axe in his pack.
He’s Leatherman. Leatherman. Leatherman.”

Leatherman. Leatherman.
Shake his hand. He’s Leatherman. Bake some bread. He’s Leatherman.
Shame he’s dead. I saw his bed.
It’s all that’s left of Leatherman. Leatherman.
Give me some skin. He’s Leatherman.

Hope you find Leatherman’s legacy as interesting as we do here.  Stories like these are the ones worth exploring.

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~ by acm213 on November 8, 2009.

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