Years before the band existed, my girlfriend showed me a tiny little pen knife, maybe 2″ long. It was a salesman’s sample, with BARLOW SAMPLE X24 etched on the blade. I grabbed the blade and declared myself “Barlow Sample, agent X24”.
A few times at our local bar, I pulled it out and, threatening no one in particular, lisped “My name is Barlow Thample, baby! I have a blade with my name on it. Mess with me and I’ll cut you”. People laughed. Before long, it became a bit of a thing and folks started calling me Barlow and demanded to be “threatened” with the puny weapon.
Like most silly jokes, it ran its course.
Fast forward a couple of years. I’m in a new band. We’re struggling to come up with the perfect name. We try out ‘the Fontaine Brothers’ and other non-starters before unanimously agreeing that the name needs to be one word. Yes, one word! Absolutely. Definitely! But which word? My partner comes up with Pudenda, which stuck for maybe 11 hours.
One night, we’re sitting with a couple of our best buddies, perhaps under the influence of a certain herbal combustible, when I blurt out, “Barlow”. The four us laugh our asses off. And then, one by one, they giggle, “THAT’S THE NAME!”
And we solemnly agreed. The band shall be Barlow.
We couldn’t wait for the next day’s rehearsal to tell our band mates what we were calling this new destined-for-glory outfit.
When the glee settled down, I said,
“But in my heart, it will always be the Barlow Sample Band” (again, pronounced Thample)
My partner said, “Yeah, but we agreed that it would be one word – Barlow”
I responded, “Yes. Agreed. Totally. It’s Barlow. End of story. I’m just saying… IN MY HEART, it will be the Barlow Thample Band”.
Partner: Enough already, We agreed. It’s Barlow. One freakin’ word!
Me: Yes. It’s Barlow. No argument. I’m just saying that, in my heart….
This actually went back and forth for several more minutes.
Finally, I gave up in frustration. I stood up and snarled, “Tomorrow, I’m showing up at rehearsal with a t-shirt that says, “the Barlow Sample Band, Baby!” and you’ll all be begging me for one” and I left.
I went home and designed and printed one shirt.
The next day, I walked into rehearsal with my new ‘the Barlow Sample Band, Baby! shirt’. On first sight, my band mates all said, “THAT is the name of the band”. I unconvincingly replied, “But we all agreed it would be a one word name”.
Over the years, I printed that logo dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Each print used different combos and swirls of silkscreen paint. No two shirts were alike, “and for the coup-de-gras” I handed one to Walter Becker at a street festival we played in Lower Manhattan (with Patti Smith).
That was “outrageous, oh honey, let me tell you” 🤣
The knife? I still have it! Actually, I now have TWO. Found another one on eBay several years back. And, just today, I saw another one on eBay. Am I supposed to not buy it?
*This post contains lyrics from Steely Dan’s Showbiz Kids, written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker