Is there life elsewhere in the galaxy? From the perspective of somebody under four feet tall, the answer might be “yes, on the sun.” That makes complete illogical sense if they are familiar with Gustafer Yellowgold, the creation of New York-based musician/performer/illustrator Morgan Taylor.
Created way back in 2004 in a fit of whimsy, the little “sunling” fell to Earth and began having adventures (with his pet eel, among others) in a series of enchanting multimedia shows (one of which we witnessed at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY in 2007). What was not to like about fanciful children’s music accompanied by lyrics-subtitled videos? Ben (then 6) was singing “I’m From the Sun” pretty much the entire drive home.
From there, Morgan produced a series of CD/DVD releases, a 2017 Grammy-nominated CD (Brighter Side), and now an Audible exclusive children’s audiobook, an origin tale entitled “I’m From the Sun.” The nearly-four-hour story also includes all the songs (13 brand new ones and three reprises, produced by Wilco’s Pat Sansone), which serves as a separate entity altogether.
Judging the music by itself, Gustafer Yellowgold has remained a perennial favorite of Ben’s (it’s perfectly coincidental that Gustafer’s older brother is also named Ben). Despite the age gap between Ben and his younger brother, the kids are both looking forward to bonding over Morgan’s creation at his February 2 performance at Symphony Space (tickets on sale here). The tunes on I’M FROM THE SUN include the title track as well as the War-soundalike “Low Rider” inspired “Hot Malt Eagle,” the trippy “Ellen Lemon,” and the anthemic closer “Feel Your Shine.”
It took my younger son Matt and I quite a while to wade through I’m From the Sun. Thirteen chapters (at one chapter a night, on average) broken up over several weeks, even at 1.25x speed, took some time. The story is a prequel to the “Gustafer on Earth” material, centering on the Yellowgold family’s tenuous finances running a raisin carvery, Gustafer’s secret dislike of raisins, and a climactic race as part of the Tiger Face holiday festival. Along the way, Morgan delivers messages about finding your own voice, bullying, and personal responsibility.
To this point in time, Gustafer Yellowgold has been a one-man operation. While that works well in a stage setting, it was initially challenging to separate the distinct voices of the many characters – all voiced by Morgan. But the story is engaging, the puns are tolerable, and we even listened to the final race and aftermath in one setting, at Matt’s request. So I’m From the Sun clearly hit its demographic in that regard.
Morgan gives himself at “out,” as the audiobook ends with a cliffhanger that will segue into another DVD/CD or a second audiobook. Either way, Gustafer Yellowgold lives to see another day, another incarnation, and to jump on more cakes (it would take too long to explain). The sun has yet to set on the Yellowgold empire and youthful audiences should be prepared for more post-ecliptic epics.
Here is the video for “Hot Malt Eagle” from the new Gustafer Yellowgold audiobook, I’m From the Sun: