The song begins with an inspirational message from Moulty himself, the guy who the song was named after.
I remember the days
When things were real bad for me
It was right after my accident
When I lost my hand
Moulty doesn’t sing so much as he talks those lines. After all, he was the Barbarian’s drummer, not their lead singer. But his sincerity comes through quite strongly.
The song is a message for the underdog, for anyone who feels different, or strange. If Moulty can become rock star drummer with just one hand, you can also make your dreams come true.
"Moulty!” the backup singers scream. “Don’t turn away!"
The inspirational message continues through the second verse, and the second chorus. And then we hit the third verse. And the song takes a starry-eyed turn. Moulty’s living his dream, but he’s still missing one thing: Love.
Now there’s just one thing that I need
Not sympathy and I don’t want no pity
But a girl, a real girl
One that really loves me
And then I’ll be the complete man
So I’m gonna tell you right now, listen
And the chorus hits, and the song fades out, and — that’s it. We don’t know what happens to Moulty. Does he get the real girl? The one that really loves him?
So I got Moulty’s number and gave him a call. He was pretty chatty over the phone. A little cocksure, but friendly. Then I asked about love, and he shot me down. He told me that he doesn’t discuss his private life in interviews.
But I figured I could get something out of him. So we met up.
Moulty grew up in Provincetown, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Today, it’s a popular resort town, but when Moulty was growing up, he says it was wild, and he was the oddest and wildest boy in town.
Moulty was a troublemaker. He grew his hair long and built homemade bombs with his friends. And then one day, he was putting a bomb together, and it blew up in his hand.
Moulty was hurt very badly, but he survived the accident. Still, it was a lot for a teenage boy to handle. But he figured out how to pick himself up. He invented a way to fix his hook to a drum stick, and he focused his energy on drumming.
He learned how to play with a hook, and practiced non-stop. Eventually, he started the Barbarians, and one thing led to another and they signed to a label. They even shared a stage with the Rolling Stones, James Brown, the Beach Boys, and lots of other household names in a live concert film, The TAMI Show.
But Moulty had more in mind than just the music. Like a consummate rock star, he also had an interest in women, and he dated a lot.
In 1965, a year after the TAMI show, the Barbarians released “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl?” It hit number 55 on the Billboard chart, which was a huge success for them. But there was pressure to release another hit.
“Moulty” charted shortly after that, which meant even more attention from the ladies.
But even though he dated a lot when the song came out, he eventually settled down and got married — twice, actually. He’s been with second wife for over 35 years, and he talks about his kids and granddaughter with a lot of love. So it kind of threw me when he didn’t answer my questions about finding a real girl. He continued to dodge my questions about finding true love.
The Barbarians broke up in 1967, just a year after “Moulty” was released. Moulty lives outside of Boston now. He still plays music for fun, but he makes his money from his carpet and upholstery cleaning company. He seems pretty happy, and 50 years after he wrote the song, the mystery of Moulty’s true love remains alive.
This story was premiered by POP CANDY FROM USA TODAY. It was originally produced for the Transom Story Workshop, and was featured on HOWSOUND, along with an interview with Alex. Many thanks to everyone involved in those three organizations, and specially, the best radio teacher on the damn planet, Rob Rosenthal.