The Music of Norma Lyon

December 13, 2009


On a recent thrifting day this turned up. The cover and liner notes seemed appealing but the track listing really sold it. Hard to resist a self released custom record with original composition titles like Flight of the Spirit Geese, Phantom Cathedral of the Sea and especially Dirge of the Sea Gods. Our Norma Lyon is not to be confused with the more famous Norma Lyon, a dairy farmer from Iowa who gained some fame sculpting various large items everything from Harleys, John Wayne to the Last Supper and Obama out of butter. Her most famous work being a 600 pound cow sculpted for the Iowa State Fair.

Our Norma Lyon is an accomplished composer and illustrator. She spent many years living in a small cabin in Hauser around the coastal dunes of Oregon which provided the inspiration for the first side of the record: Dune Sketches. The liner notes detail a series of setbacks for Ms. Lyon including contracting polio and a 1943 car accident which “resulted in the loss of a middle finger and the the thumb above the first joint. Plastic surgery enabled her to regain use of her thumb.” The second side Sea Sketches was inspired by living the last seventeen years in her studio overlooking the sea in Coos Bay.

Google newspapers is a strange wealth of obscure information here:,1306145,3708299,5651007

I recommend this article. It outlines some interesting album and biographical facts. The album had a press run of 1000 copies was probably released in 1968 and Ms. Lyon was hoping that the proceeds from the album would help pay off her mortgage. Ms. Lyons was 58 at the time of the albums release and living with her twin sister. She has a cat named Franz and a dog named Bobby. She was at the time of the article (August 1968) working on a childrens record and book whose narrative was some sort of underwater puppet adventure where “happiness triumphs over tragedy.”

Price: Fifty Cents
Location: McCoughlin Thrift Store

Listen: Dirge of the Sea Gods