Gargoyles, Grotesques & Chimeras: Listening to The Anatomy of Melancholy


Inside “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras”

Back in the late 1980’s when I was in school in Boston, I frequently visited a place on Newbury Street called “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras.”

Part store and part museum, it was a mysterious space full of beautiful artwork, crumbling masonry and religious relics.

Dry leaves that crunched underfoot were always scattered across the floor.

And always in the background, a recording of a haunting piano melody played over and over. No beginning and no end.  It was composed and performed by the owner of the store, Louis Gordon.  Read on to get a free copy of the song.

All of the items were for sale, but nothing had a price tag.   If you inquired about purchasing an item, Lou would ask “What is it worth to you?”  He also loved to talk with visitors about the history and background of all the artwork.

Louis Gordon, the owner of "Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras"

Lou, the owner of “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras,” in a PBS documentary about gargoyles back in 1999. Click to watch the video.

While passing through Boston on my way to visit my family this holiday season, memories of this special place suddenly floated up in my mind.  Sadly, I learned the store closed in 2008.

Inside the store "Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras"

Inside the store “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras”

I found many wonderful reviews from other people who had also been deeply touched by this meditative place.  It’s amazing to me how many people loved it.

Inside "Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras"

Inside “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras”

One of the artists featured in the store was Duncan Chrystal, who’s current work can be found online.  I bought a couple of his pieces for myself and my family over the years.

Art by Duncan Chrystal inside the store.

Art by Duncan Chrystal inside the store

When I returned home to Montreal, I dimly remembered buying a CD recording of that special piano music from Lou many years ago.  I also remembered making an mp3 from the CD the same day I bought it so that I would never lose it (my physical CDs have a tendency to break or disappear).

After some digging through my digital archives, I finally found the file last night.  It’s a real relic from the past, with a file creation date of October 16, 2001.  It is hard for me to believe it has been over a decade since I bought it.

Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras is now only a memory and, sadly, I cannot find any current contact information for Lou .  Since I can’t find his piano song available for purchase anywhere, and since I also know many people like myself would love to hear it again, I think Lou would be happy for me to share it freely.

Listen to “The Anatomy of Melancholy – No Beginning and No End” :

Download mp3 (right-click the link below and select Save Link):
“The Anatomy of Melancholy – No Beginning and No End”

Lou, wherever you are, thank you for creating a sacred space and inviting so many of us to share it for so many years.  You used to say “Only those who are meant to come in, come in.”  Please know that all of us who did will never forget.

No beginning. No end.

The 262 Newbury Street entrance for “Gargoyles Grotesques & Chimeras”

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

P.S. (edited 2/3/2013) Here are some of my own favorite pieces that I acquired from the store.  If you have any pictures of your own treasured items from Gargoyles, please share them in the comments if you wish.

This winged lion used to sit on a column inside the store next to one of the front windows.

This brass winged lion used to sit on a column inside the store next to one of the front windows.

I used to have many of these pewter angel coins.  This is the last one.

I used to have many of these pewter angel coins. This last one is tarnished and treasured.

One of Duncan's paintings that I bought for my mom many years ago.

One of Duncan’s paintings that I bought for my mom many years ago.

My mom was thrilled when she discovered the hidden painting on the back.

My mom was thrilled when she discovered the hidden painting on the back.

P.P.S. (edited 5/2 2014)

I was listening to this today and noticed there was no cover art displayed my WinAmp player, so I made a very simple one.  It makes me happier now to see the store while listening to the music. Please feel free to download and use it if you wish.

grotesqves cover

Cover Art for The Anatomy of Melancholy

I used the same unique spelling and color of the word “Grotesqves” as it was painted on the window of the store (see pic below).  Here’s the free font I used: Chanticleer Roman

gargoyle store window

The beautiful Dawn Chorus intro to WGBH’s “Morning Pro Musica” classical music radio show

I grew up in New England in the 80’s, and my first exposure to classical music was listening to WGBH on the radio.  My favorite classical music show was Robert J. Lurtsema’s Morning Pro Musica.

Listening to Morning Pro Musica as a kid was what first kindled my deep love of classical music, and my clock radio was always set to go off at the exact start of the show.  It began with the sounds of birds for about 5 minutes, then a slow crossfade into a specific piece of classical music.  I remember there was different music for each day of the week, but the piece I loved the most was Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.”

For years, I happily woke to the sounds of birds and Handel.  And last night as I was fiddling with my alarm app on my tablet, I suddenly remembered those sounds and longed to wake up to them again.

I searched online but couldn’t find any digital copy of the show’s intro.  Happily, I found a recording of the exact bird sounds that Robert J. used for his show (from the LP “Dawn Chorus: The Birds of Morning Pro Musica”).  From there it was easy enough to take one of those tracks and crossfade it into Handel.


Download: morning pro musica intro birds and music (mp3)

Robert J. Lurtsema passed away years ago, but I will never forget how he inspired me each morning and opened my eyes to a new world of music.  Thank you, Robert J.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester