The Night I Lost My Baby: A Las Vegas Vignette
Los Angeles, CA: Self-published, 1966.
8vo.; unpaginated; illustrated throughout in black and white; illustrated endpapers; gold boards; no dust-jacket, as issued; slightly bumped corners, else a fine copy.
First edition of 500 copies. Text by Mason Williams, book desig by Ed Ruscha and photography by Patrick Blackwell. Warmly inscribed by Mason Williams to his brother on the first free leaf: To Darrell/ With love/ your brother/ Mason.
Mason Williams and Ed Ruscha left Oklahoma and headed for LA together in 1956. Williams collaborated on books by Ed Ruscha, who designed this volume (he also designed Williams' first book, Bicyclists Dismount). The Night I Lost My Baby is elegant and conceptual with black and white images isolated on one page and juxtaposed with text on the opposing page. The images and text appear to follow a loose narrative about Las Vegas; however, Blackwell’s photographs (another Oklahoma buddy, he also collaborated with Williams and Ruscha on Royal Road Test) only bear an allusive relation to it. The minimal gold boards are a nice prelude to the full-bleed black and white illustrated endpapers that follow as one opens the book.
After kicking around various folk music scenes for about seven years, Williams became phenomenally successful as a television and screenwriter. He achieved his greatest success as the chief writer for the Smothers Brothers, when their variety show was in its heyday--some of the most cutting edge comedy of its day; it received an Emmy nomination in 1967. After that show basically got kicked off the air due do its subversive tone, he went on to write for almost all of the big 60s TV variety shows.