A B O U T
:

An underrated and overlooked artist … who continues to peak people’s interest through, voice, story, song, and his mere miraculous existence that has defied science,
complimented the human spirit,
and perplexed the entertainment industry.

From Roswell to Midland …
From directing to death …
From Spielberg to Play Me …
From Signature Place to Thriller-Baby.
 

    While it has often been said that some things are better left unsaid, the opposite could not ring more true for Joshua Crawford; one of America’s most prolific, if not enigmatic storytellers whose bundle of more than 300 original songs and 2 epic novels, have graced the underground of counterculture for almost two decades, just as it has flown over the heads of those that have the power to shed a brighter light on his work for a broader audience, other than just the deep thinkers of society; the entertainment industry.

            Though it may seem to the average Joe, who happens to stumble across either “Play Me” or “Signature Place” or the ever-catchy word “Thriller-Baby” while surfing the Net for odds and ends, that Crawford obviously must be some sort of cult artist who must’ve slipped the average listener’s or reader’s mind due to his non-commercialization, much is linked and credited to the crooner with the mint green eyes who has played the piano by ear since the age of 3, written songs since the age of 18 (he quit keeping count at 300), composed 2 epic-novels (beginning his first at age 15) that detail the critical coming-of-age years for those of his latchkey generation who often grew up parentless, (due to the Baby-Boomers being the 1st generation to thrust the divorce-rate into an all-time high in the late 1970s ¾ spitting out his own name for this generation; “ThrillerBaby”), Crawford’s gradual rise to a very unusual caliber of fame for merely not being famous yet … has often been hard to ignore, whether part of the entertainment industry, or not, given that such a unique artist could ever manage to exist in the hindsight of the art world … all without having ever graced the cover of Rolling Stone, sold a single major marketed CD, toured the world endlessly, published a #1 bestseller for the New York Times, or even portrayed an Oscar-winning role in a classic genre-defining motion picture.

But that may not be too far off in the future for the 30-something old Crawford who has, over the course of several years, re-defined what the word “true artist” actually means.

            All on his own, and with virtually not a cent to his name yet (much less the support of the entertainment industry who has deemed his work too obtuse and obscure to be marketable to a target audience), he has helped redefine the common writing style by contributing a style of his own which has come to be known as Crawfordesque, in which the plots in his novels are heavily aided by real-life pre-existing pop culture references such as lyrics for songs, or printed dialogue snippets for certain motion pictures, that he literally takes the time to study from source, and then ‘prints’ out in visual text in order to cushion a desired period of time in which he aims to document; thus making his writings (and the style in which he administers them) quite authentic for the reader, who often gets just as acquainted with the story’s timeframe of pop-culture-ish songs and movies, as they do with the story itself; educating them with 3 levels (or layers) of storytelling in one! Pushing the envelope of a human’s ability to comprehend such massive layers of storytelling so far, that most of today’s older generation (which run the publishing industry) perhaps find his writing style (or ‘prose’) too eccentric to believably comprehended by a mass audience.

            Although some early short stories are rumored to exist, so far, the majority of his two epic-novels known on the underground (True and Signature Place: the latter having been bubbling under the nation’s radar for quite sometime, allegedly making its way all the way to the White House) are written in this fashion and take place in in the 1980s; the decade in which he came of age, and one in which most of his characters do too.

             Holding the unheard of reputation for having “the most passed around demo in the entire history of the music business” since the year 1993 (when his “Play Me” demo first started to circulate on the underground; beginning with Arista Records), then having more than 2,000 literary agents and book publishers continually turn down his pioneering “Gone With The Wind”-for-kids 3-part epic novel (which took him 8 years to write) about the 1st generation of latchkey kids in the 1980s (“SIGNATURE PLACE”), it seems Crawford is no more closer to achieving mass superstardom … than the millions of other thirsty aspiring actors, singers, directors, and writers in the ever conglomerated world of the entertainment community which doesn’t always have a place for a true artist’s line of work because its opportunities are so limited, and the ones who aspire to fulfill those opportunities are so numerous.

There is a strong catch though:

Joshua Crawford has achieved something far more interesting and rewarding than perhaps many of those who stole his spotlight before he could ever grab hold of it himself; respect.

             He has gradually gained a reputation as being a Dylanesque-like spokesperson for his entire ThrillerBaby generation, due to his massive devotion (under many astronomical odds and personal difficulties) to shed light on the subject of how the divorce of a parent (or even their death), can affect an entire generation (beginning in massive doses with his very own) and the future evolution of mankind.

             An often assumed child-prodigy who grew up in the midst of a bitter divorce between his own parents, Crawford once had dreams of directing motion pictures for Steven Spielberg after seeing Spielberg’s E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial at the age of 7 in 1982 (the last film his parents would see together; as they divorced shortly after the film's release), and being smitten with the middle-kid character of Elliott; E.T.’s surrogate son whom the alienated alien with the big heart makes contact with, and then nearly kills the boy while doing so, then dies, resurrects, and paves a rainbow in the heavens while leaving planet earth after finally having been rescued by his parents whom he had been separated from while wandering in the forest of the world; which turned out to be a child's backyard. Crawford’s personal life, that launched what is now considered an entire body of profound work even though he is still considered a young man, however, is not too far removed from the alien in which he loved so much as a young boy. For due to a massive turning point in his life at the young age of only 14, when it was discovered that he had developed a horrific virus in his heart which had caused it to momentarily swell 5x its normal size within a 3-week range … then shrank back to near-normal size after a modern miracle took place in a Houston, Texas hospital in 1989, the young entertainer’s life abruptly went from having a simple desire to be a storyteller … to telling all sorts of stories in both song and book format; with “Play Me” and its neighboring songs, “Cryin’ Party,” and “Sing Along” often popping up as runner-ups in rather prestigious songwriting competitions.

             Much of this status that his individual songs have achieved all on their own, has been generated because the few studio-produced recordings of Crawford that do exist, have held up extremely well over time, due much in part to their ageless production-value in sound, their deep lyrics that often appear to resemble the mind of an old man, as opposed to just a teenager (he wrote the well known “Play Me” at the age of only 18), and the unique fact that his gradual lack of being exploited by the music industry has generated for his fan base; often causing them to elevate his body of work even further than what he might’ve anticipated since first trying to get a record-deal for his many unrecorded songs and a publishing contract for his books, years ago. For due to his rather profound history of surfacing on the underground under the thumb of Spielberg and so many other public figures, as well as his incredible obstacles with surviving life … and death, the very history of his many attempts to land notoriety, merely for the sake of inspiring the world with his contributions to the arts (and in particular, arts aimed at bridging generations together), have been so gradually documented in the industry and on the horizon of other middle-American writers and musicians, for so long now, that he, himself, has become a forerunner for representing what one man (or artist) can indeed endure in one’s effort to bring their art to the consciousness of the world, all while continually being rejected by the industry who has such power to utilize him and his many diverse gifts, with each passing year.

            Often referred to as the ultimate “POP NOVEL” because of its meticulous emphasis on 1980s pop-culture that was exemplified by the invention of the VCR which raised his ThrillerBaby generation, when many of his generation’s parents were paving the country’s climbing interest with double-incomed families at the time (married or unmarried), Crawford’s “Signature Place” epic-novel “for the kid in every adult, and the adult in every kid” (as the book’s cover states) has been tied to everyone from director Francis Ford Coppola … to even actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop-icon Madonna, and most recently, The White House itself; as the book’s town-setting (Midland, TX) is coincidentally, also the same town that raised a dynasty of presidents, each of whom entered the same war in the middle-east; both of the George Bushes ¾ sparking even further intrigues into Crawford’s writings which many feel were not only autobiographical enough to be novelistic, but downright prophetic and ahead of their time:

            Many of the latch-key children characters in the novel, face a few wars of their own, and they battle a dictatorship that seems to be dominating their neighborhood; their own parent’s abandonment of them. Much less, much of the story revolves around school gangs created by school bullies, long before the repressed youth in America grew so intense on the back-burner of the country’s parental minds, that school-shootings started happening regularly, beginning in the mid 1990s. Such shootings weren’t even heard of in the 1980s (the decade in which the novel takes place), but because of Crawford’s own take on his generation’s fear for the future of mankind, having grown up in a decade where having social-status and money meant everything and defined a man’s (and a woman’s!) success, he wrote about such self-reliant “repressed youth” and “teen-angst” notions, long before it was ever deemed realistic; causing many outsiders to become somewhat fascinated with his mind, feeling him to be very in-tune and in sync with what the country’s youth would eventually resort to … whether he knew he was being so in tune, or not; retaliation for being excluded by “the norm” … leading to a new level of “violence” and a fear in seeking vindication on that very norm that tossed them and their ideas aside, in favor of what was more socially accepted.

* Many of his pre-teen children characters all have strong individualities that set them apart from society’s norm; particularly their self-taught intellect (highly inspired by what the author has called the 3 famous M’s of his times: Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Mtv) and the fact that all their parents are too busy working, to take notice of their offspring’s recent ostracization from society; as the 600-page story’s leading anti-hero character, is none other than a nine year old boy who’s been deemed a “child-prodigy” by his teachers and single-parent dad (the book opens with his mother and grandmother having just died from a mysterious cause that isn’t revealed until the shocking final pages of part 3 in the 3-part trilogy), but perhaps too prodigal and intelligent to ever be part of his peers and their popular mainstream world. The orphaned boy soon not only joins a gang of other latchkey kids in the neighborhood, but inadvertently becomes its new leader with a few ideas of his own; one of them apparently to raise the bar in each and every war that his gang has with another opposing gang that threatens his neighborhood and the entire destiny of the generation that he, himself, has willingly become a father to ¾ beginning with another “parentless because of working parents” boy, who is all of 3 years old, and is so traumatized by society’s new approach to popularize divorce, that he has grown mute and still wears a diaper; speaking only to the nine year old and even then, only when they’re alone.

            The irony of the situation at hand, is the powerful revelation that the nine-year-old’s working father (whose job requires his removal from the household), manages what would, by most accounts, be considered a child’s haven; the town’s local Toys R Us! Having no clue what is going on with his child’s private homelife whom he has left up to the town’s neighborhood and school to raise, because neither he, nor his son, want to confront their own grief in the loss over the death of each of their mothers; his wife and mother/the boy’s mother and grandmother; which this revelation in itself, is the one strong coincidence that the “two widowed men” (as the author states) have in common. So a wall of silence is credulously established on the very first page of BOOK ONE at both of their mothers’ funerals, to prep the reader for the distance that this generation of orphans (the thriller babies) must overcome, in order to change society’s new fascination with propelling all their parents to divorce as a new way for them to gain personal liberation and freedom from all the previous generations’ repression and conservativism! Signature Place’s canvas seems to dwell on a younger generation’s attempt at creating establishment … for a generation of anti-establishers; the hippy-ish babyboomers and all their self-absorbent methods to live life on the edge in order to experience the alleged biggest high of their lives. The thriller-babies work ever so hard to not only bring organization into their own unmapped new latchkey lifestyles (that at this point in history, had not fully been realized yet in society to this kind of magnitude until this generation came along), but to bring some sort of organization to all of their parents' lives as well … even though quite often, they don’t always succeed. (Some separated parents in the novel eventually get back together … others die of overdoses … while others just abandon their spouses and kids all together, never to be heard from again.)

            Though his last name shares the exact name of the Texas town that George W. Bush and Laura Bush often resort to, some have misinterpreted Crawford, himself, as being one of the offspring of the town’s forefathers; an easy confusion to make since Joshua lives in Midland, which yielded the Bush Presidencies and Signature Place takes place there. He, of course, has stated that he never has, nor had, any affiliation with the town at all while writing the novel, thus his last name and the town’s name is strictly a bizarre coincidence. (Most of those who get confused over the matter, are those that live outside of the Texas region and continue to hear about the President’s ‘Crawford, Texas’ on their evening news.)

            Because of the book being given a recent second-glance by society at analyzing a town in which raised two U.S. presidents who entered the same war, even more intrigue has been fueled for Crawford’s stories, as well as his music and personal struggles in life that prompted such profound contributions to the arts. Whether he ever intended this to be his selling point, or not, has become somewhat beside the point; as his novel and large body of music has gradually started to popularize itself, based solely on its own unique merit of documenting his generation and the minds of that generation that now run the current America; with most thriller-babies currently being in the prime of their life; their 30s. Making Crawford’s attempts a strong focus for his peers who want to explain their own complex childhoods to their own children, who are now reaching the age that the thrillerbabies were in the novel; their pre-teens. Leading the world to ponder that perhaps Crawford’s delay in receiving publication for the book, was due to a lack of perfect timing, which now seems to finally be rising upon him, speculating much buzz from those that are aware of the novel, and have been awaiting its worldwide launch for quite some time with great expectation.

            Many parents and children alike, as well as several historians of the decade, have begun to hold “Signature Place” with such ultra high regard for being a very accurate and meticulously researched story about the 1980s and early latchkey life, that more and more people who catch wind of the novel and its interesting commercial unavailability, are starting to talk about its historical importance for defining key moments in the formation of how a child thinks when under enormous amounts of pressures and foreign surroundings (as well as their powerful coping skills!), much less the ThrillerBaby generation itself, and its birth of what is now common everyday child-rearing, consisting of double-incomed parenting; speculating an eventual major publication of the novel which would delight fans of not only the book, but Crawford’s music buffs as well; as both mediums in which he’s skilled in, seem to always compliment the other while virtually introducing the other:

            Some hear “Play Me”, for example, on an iPod or college or Internet radio station, and then dig up Crawford’s name … which links them to his miraculous life, and then his loose autobiographical novel that has been so continually rejected for publication, and get intrigued with him for this alone, in addition to his strong perseverance over a two-decade range to get his stories into the mainstream. (Much of his determination has often been credited to the fact that he, a child of divorce himself, hopes the book will give hope and encouragement to other children of divided families. One of the children in the novel, for example, falls prey to suicidal tendencies due to their own belief that they’ve caused their parent’s codependency on drugs, until another child saves the child’s life and conveys to them that this merely isn’t true.) Others, and those associated with 1980s nostalgia and counterculture, have known about Crawford’s books for years, which will eventually lead them to uncover his music; begging for more of it, other than just the 3 studio-produced songs which, for the most part, have been the only available audio material of Crawford’s on the mainstream circuit for the last 15 years (as life has not afforded him the opportunity to record any more pieces), even though it’s well known that he’s composed nearly half-a-thousand melodic compositions, all by ear; as he can not read a single note of music, and hasn’t since first starting to play piano by ear at the age of 3. (His parents made him take lessons 3 different times in his youth, but finally gave up on his training, and figured he’d only play as a hobby. Only years later, once he decided not to direct motion pictures under and/or with Spielberg, and instead, opted for songwriting, would they turn out to be wrong.)

“Hobby”, however, doesn’t seem to be a word one will hear Crawford use too often.

For his work … is his life.

A life that was almost taken from him, several times over.

            In addition to surviving the virus that attacked his heart (and miraculously without having to get a required transplant that some of the most respected doctors in the world deemed was “necessary” or he would “immediately die”), he has allegedly been pronounced “dead” and with no pulse for at least five minutes, at least twice in his youth. And the story of how he got to a position of being “so well known for not being known”, is quite frankly, just as fascinating and intriguing as the novels and songs themselves; sometimes even more so; lending much allure to what his novels and songs indeed are perhaps trying to say, perhaps even to his own unawareness. Do they hold more meaning beyond their own obvious intentions? Some believe, the answer ... is a very strong “yes!” As he has, in a rather unique way, proven himself not only a survivor of the most incredible odds with life and the many misfortunes that have been tossed his way (he was hit by a car in 2003 which almost destroyed him), but he seems to have survived the industry itself, and its continual misplacement of him, all without having officially entered it; with life occasionally throwing a gracious bone his way; beginning with a visit to Spielberg’s in 1992 which served as his 18th birthday present and placed his destiny on an entirely new landscape that he most likely, could not have foreseen when first entering the director's door.

            Originating from the now world-famous Roswell, New Mexico (the UFO capital of the entire planet) which is his birth place, appropriately, someone once referred to him as “one of Roswell’s most interesting aliens.” Given that he has made a dent in the way in which true art is not only discovered, but uncovered and manifested in an age where true art seems to be projecting itself in the form of overly-sexed wannabe-famous thrill-seekers who were raised on reality-TV, all while being on the outside of the industry looking in, the name has unarguably stuck; as has Mr. Green Eyes … since he is¾ for obvious reasons¾ so well known for this feature alone. Quite even more interesting, is the fact that Steven Spielberg would be the man responsible for popularizing UFOs to the world with the likes of his films Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and E.T. , yet the kid who would perhaps be the most influenced by such films, would be from Roswell itself, who would then grow up to write about an entire generation of aliened children … which of course, as of current time, no one has bothered to publish, and would write this novel full force, all because of an alleged record-deal between him and Spielberg’s now defunct “DreamWorks Records” that never came to pass; with Spielberg, himself, yet to comment on the specifications of the arrangement, nor the often guessed theory that Spielberg has received “Signature Place” and if so, why he hasn’t done something with it when it obviously has such a built-in target audience with its strong appeal to three different generations and beyond, and is considered such a ray of hope for lost children, as well as a gap-bridger from one generation to the next. 

            Gradually, however, since its 1st limited print-run in 2001, Crawford’s book has indeed found an audience, person by person, … with its designated target audience; usually anyone who reads it or becomes aware of it and attempts to get it; babyboomer, thrillerbaby, big-bander, or the new up and coming generation yet to be named. And his music either trails the book’s tracks, or the book rides the appeal of his music. Both, however, eventually lead to a jaw-dropping study of how one man’s very young-but-remarkable life, has either gone largely unnoticed by all around him (including his two hometowns who seem unaware that they birthed such a man with the exception of only small blurbs about him in their local newspapers), or affected an entire generation of generations … in which time has not yet caught up with.

( the biography of Mr. Green Eyes continues by clicking on  EARLY  LIFE )