For the last forty-four years Larry “Ratso” Sloman has forged an impressive career as a writer of books, lyrics and most recently screenplays. Credited with writing features on Lou Reed, George Harrison and Leonard Cohen for Rolling Stone, Sloman was also personally invited by Bob Dylan to join his 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue as the tour's official scribe, which led to Ratso's first book On The Road With Bob Dylan (dubbed by Dylan as "The War and Peace of Rock and Roll”). On tour he was given the moniker “Ratso” by Joan Baez for his disheveled appearance. Ratso has collaborated with Howard Stern, Anthony Kiedis, David Blaine, and Mike Tyson on their best-selling memoirs. He was asked by Leonard Cohen to preface On Tour with Leonard Cohen and Ratso's biography of Houdini will soon be a major-motion picture.
Ratso has paid his dues in the tower of song, having written the lyrics for over thirty tracks with Rick Derringer (McCoys) and ex-Velvet Underground founder John Cale, including "Dying on the Vine," which became Cale’s signature solo song (inspiring not one, but two novels). Ratso has also acted in films as diverse as the award-winning short The Black Balloon, the horror film Satan’s Little Helper and has a large role in Martin Scorsese's upcoming Netflix documentary on Dylan's Rolling Thunder tour, out in April.
What hasn’t Ratso done? His own album. At 70, Ratso is releasing debut album Stubborn Heart, produced by his close friend Vin Cacchione (of Soft Black and Caged Animals) at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Stubborn Heart blends a classic songwriting approach with a contemporary sophistication. The album features Ratso singing on eight originals (including songs that were co-written with John Cale) and what he describes as an “audacious” Bob Dylan cover, along with the generous talents of his friends Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Sharon Robinson (Leonard Cohen’s co-writer, producer and back-up singer), Yasmine Hamdan, Imani Coppolla and more.
Reminiscing on the album Ratso says, “Everything about this project was fun. And it was always about the songs. They had been lying dormant since 1984. They deserved a life.” Each track carries a significant and often astonishing history. For instance, the John Cale collaboration "Dying On The Vine," was originally conceived in hotel room off Sunset Blvd. whilst trading lines with Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss, whereas Sharon Robinson was convinced to sing on the record in exchange for Ratso writing the aforementioned Leonard Cohen preface for free, described by Ratso as an “old school barter.”
Stubborn Heart is an album that is fittingly autobiographical, harking back to various stages of Ratso’s accomplished career and life, sung by a guy who witnessed the counter-cultural explosion of 1970's NYC and birthed forty years later within the DIY confines of Brooklyn. His Rolling Stones fan club card long gone, Ratso’s now a card-carrying member of the American Association of Retired Persons but he’s determined to ride this new career wherever it takes him. “Maybe I can be the Jewish Susan Boyle,” he muses. “The oldest best new artist ever and if that doesn’t pan out, I can always perform on subway platforms. Hey, I can get in for half-price!”