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Friday, March 27, 2009

Theme Time Radio Hour Roundup Day

A lot of highlights in this week's Theme Time Radio Hour, which was either titled "(We Climb Aboard) Noah's Ark" or "Animals: Part 1" dependent on which teaser from Pierre Mancini you want to use.

Stand-out for the show for me had to be Bonnie Raitt's stunning version of Baby, Mine.  The song was originally sung as a lullaby to Dumbo the elephant by his Mom in the Disney cartoon. Raitt turns it into a torchy love song that, as Mr. D. says, sounds as if she's singing it to the man she loves. In fact, Our Host seems so awed by Raitt's version that he uses that exact same phrase in both introducing and closing the song.

A little searching uncovered that Baby Mine appears on Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films a compilation from 19 and 88 that immediately went into my Amazon shopping cart.  The song's arrangement was by Don Was, of Was (Not Was), and impressed Bonnie Raitt so much that she recruited Was to produce her next album.

One of the fun - sometimes frustrating - games to play with TTRH is "Name That Tune" or sometimes "Name That Clip," identifying the various snippets from song, film and T.V. that are used as bed music and underscores throughout the show.  I'm still trying to figure out the name of the jazzy piano piece used underneath this episode's "Nighttime in the Big City" intro, as Ellen Barkin re-appears and relates to her audience that, "a burly man sells factory-second tube socks out of his car's trunk."

There's also a great bossa nova version of the theme from The Monkees playing as Mr. D.'s explores the social organization of bonobo monkeys, which have "large sexual repertoires" according to Wikipedia, and sadly relates that he misses the `60s.

I immediately recognized the clip from Cool Coz's wonderful "Noah" routine, which appeared on his first album, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow Right! recorded live at The Bitter End club in Greenwich Village way back in 19 and 63.  If your only knowledge of Bill Cosby is as the Huxtable patriarch, check out the video above and recordings of his early work.

It's possible that Mr. D. saw Cosby do "Noah" live.  They were both working the same clubs, and Suze Rotolo mentions in A Freewheelin' Time that Dylan and The Coz "bonded in ambition early on."

Other show highlights included "Cousin Emmy" opening with one of her signature tunes, Groundhog and Tex Ritter doing one of the many variations of Froggy Went a-Courtin', with Our Host, as always, avoiding mention of the fact that it's a song he's covered himself. Cousin Emmy, by the way, deserves a Dreamtime post of her own, and I'm going to hold off saying anything more about her until I get around to doing it.  I should also take a look at The Monkey Speaks His Mind, which, as Mr. D. notes, has a much longer history before Dave Bartholomew put it to music.  I'm pretty sure that song originated from the Black oral  tradition of "toasts."

Mr. D. tells a dreadful joke about giraffes, which he's told us before. There's a lengthy phone call from a "Tempest Foxx," who's working in a, uh, club, in Australia and who tells us more than any of us probably needed to know about the oeuvre of Grizzly Adams.

Tempest seems to share the same confusion about songs of The Beatles as the caller from the "Money" show, Carol, did as she asks for I Am The Walrus by The Who.  Unlike Carol, though, Tempest is willing to accept Mr. D.'s correction, noting that all those English bands sound alike to her anyway, and changes her request to a song about kangaroos.  Mr. D. complies with Rolf Harris' Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, and solos - he claims - on the didgeridoo after the song. I kept on hoping for a didgeridoo version of Blowin' in the Wind, but no joy.

Our Host closed the show noting that he had decided 20 minutes into it that he was going to have to do a second show on the subject, not having time to play among others, Memphis Minnie's Mean Red Spider. So we'll have "Animals: Part 2" to look forward to next week.

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