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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dreamtime's 2nd 3rd Annual Halloween Encore Special




As we've said before, what's good enough for Mr. D. and Eddie G. is good enough for Dreamtime too, and so it's time again for our traditional rebroadcast of  one of our favorite shows. First released in October, 2007, Episode 44 - The 2nd 3rd Annual Dreamtime Halloween Show.

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Welcome to your other home for Halloween schemes, ghostly themes, and Kandy-Korn dreams. It's Dreamtime's 2nd 3rd Annual Halloween Show, the one time of the year where we get to let down our hair and pretend to be our favorite monster, superhero, actor, or deejay...

... and we all know who that would be, don't we?

Playing in the background, Haunted House, from Leon Redbone's first album. A dead man's party is where we're headed to first on tonight's musical Halloween tour. Here's Oingo Boingo with Dead Man's Party. See you on the other side, and make sure to leave your body at the door.

[Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo]


Oingo Boingo was founded in 1972 as the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, later changing their name to Oingo Boingo, and then to Boingo. If the band had stayed together they might have shortened it down even further to just Boing, but they broke up in 19 and 95.

The original Oingo Boingo appeared on Chuck Barris' The Gong Show in 19 and 76, getting a score of 24 points out of a possible 30 with an act that featured both a rocket ship and a dragon, and winning them $500 to boot. You can see that appearance on YouTube. Go check it out. As Chuck Barris says, "[They're] an act who may first shock you, but once you get to know them, they'll boggle your mind."

We all know Lord Invader from TTRH. Well, there was another calypso lord - Lord Intruder - who wrote a song called Jumbie Jamberee back in 19 and 53. "Jumbies" were spirits in the song who danced "back to back, belly to belly" in a Trinidad graveyard. Intruder published Jumbie Jamberee, but it would take some other groups to make the song popular in the United States. And they changed "jumbies" to "zombies" and the graveyard location to New York along the way. The Kingston Trio had a big hit with Zombie Jamboree in the mid-'50s, and Harry Belafonte liked the song so much he recorded it three times during the `60s and `70s. One of those versions is what we're going to listen to right now: Harry Belafonte and Zombie Jamboree.

[Zombie Jamboree - Harry Belafonte]



Did you hear that line about Bridget Bardot? Back in the '60s she probably been voted as the girl you'd most want to dance belly-to-belly with. At least, I would have voted for her.

You're listening to the Dreamtime podcast - where every show we do is an encore for somebody somewhere.

If you're a regular Dreamtime listener you already know our love of all things witchy, and what better time to do some more witch songs than our Halloween Special?



Kip Tyler and the Flips recorded She's My Witch way back in November of 19 and 58. Although you don't hear much about Kip these days, he and the Flips were a major California rockabilly force and the pride of the legendary El Monte Legion Stadium rock shows back in the `50s. Kip never made it to the big time, but members of The Flips would later work with Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, and the Beach Boys. Spooky, sexy, and pure rockabilly: Kip Tyler and the Flips with She's My Witch.

[She's My Witch - Kip Tyler & The Flips]

Louis Armstrong had his first big movie break with this Johnny Burke tune from 19 and 36 we're going to play next. Satchmo originally recorded it with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, and he and the song were featured in a spooky nightclub scene complete with dancing skeleton in the Bing Crosby musical comedy, Pennies from Heaven.

[The Skeleton in the Closet - Louis Armstrong]

We get all sorts of email in at Dreamtime, and I gotta tell you, I've fallen way behind in answering them. But, when you think that the Dreamtime team is just me, two cats and a couple of honky-tonkin' good-time gals, I'm lucky to get anything done. Anyway, here's an old email from last Halloween that I'm just getting around to answering. It's from a Peggy B. of New Harbor, Maine:
Dear Dreamtime: Love the show, although Jailbait and Joyride Jones aren't on enough. They should do their own show! But that's not why I'm writing. I was watching The Simpsons' Halloween Special and Bart Simpson said that Casper was the ghost of Richie Rich! I never thought of it before, but they do look a lot alike. Any truth to the story?

Thanks for writing, Peggy, but I think you need to get out more if you're starting to believe what a cartoon says.

No, there's no truth to the urban legend that the Friendly Ghost, Casper, is really the spirit of Richie Rich, even though it is a bit suspicious that you never see the two together. However, there's always been a question about whether Casper ever died or not, and whether he's a real ghost. Casper started his career in the early 1940s as the ghost of a little boy, but by the 1960s he had ghost parents, who apparently had ghost sex, and Casper was the result. But by 1995 and the Casper movie he was the spirit of a dead person again.

A very confusing situation, and we haven't even gotten into the question about how The Ghostly Trio became his uncles.

The Dreamtime podcast - answering all your ghostly trivia questions whether you asked them or not.

Two more witchy songs are coming on the turntable. You heard this first one last Halloween on Theme Time, with Screamin' Jay Hawkins doing the honors. Jay first cut the song back in 19 and 49, and it was the first single he ever released under the name Screamin' Jay. Nina Simone would cover it about 20 years later, in 19 and 65, and use it for the title of her autobiography: You already know what song I'm talking about, so let's get going.

[I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone]

Nothing more needs to be said about our next artist or the song except this: here's Ol' Blue Eyes with the classic, Witchcraft.

[Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra]

[Trivia: Halloween around the World]

[Poetry reading: Halloween (excerpt) - Robert Burns, spooky poet]

We were just talking about that fender-bender of a poet, Edgar Allan Poe. Bob Dylan read his Annabel Lee on the Women's Names show back in Season One. So I don't need to, which you're probably all relieved to hear.

Poe wrote Annabel Lee in 18 and 49, and was his last complete poem before his death that same year. A lot of good artists have put Annabel Lee to music over the years, including this pretty version by Joan Baez, who included the song on her 1967 album Joan.

[Annabel Lee - Joan Baez]

Joan Baez and Annabel Lee on the Dreamtime podcast Halloween Special.



You might be familiar with Gene Simmons' - the other Gene Simmons, not the guy from Kiss - version of Haunted House from 19 and 64. We're not going to play that one, but the original from Johnny Fuller, which has a faster beat and a more interesting sound, I think. Listen to that wild guitar plucking to understand what I mean.

Johnny Fuller began recording in 1954, and probably is best remembered for his single All Night Long. That one and Haunted House landed him a spot on one of the `50s package shows, where he toured with Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon. Here's the first of the two 45s he'd cut for the Speciality label: Johnny Fuller and Haunted House.

[Haunted House - Johnny Fuller]

Bruce Springsteen covered that song too, during The River tour on a Halloween show. Bruce was carried onstage in a coffin.

By 19 and 62 Johnny had more or less retired from the music business, although he'd release one more album in 19 and 74. He worked as a garage mechanic until his death in 1985. I think he might have worked on my car once.

You're listening to the Dreamtime podcast, where we've commandeered Studio B of the Abernathy Building for Halloween night.

One of the hardest things about putting together tonight's Halloween theme show was finding a good country song about Halloween. You want songs about drinking, car wrecks, and fooling around, they're easy to find. But goblins, spooks, and monsters, no. I was thinking about using Porter Wagoner's Cold Hard Facts of Life, but I want to do a Murder show later this season, and that song's too much a natural for that one. (Porter Wagoner passed away during the production of this episode: He'll be sorely missed. - fhb)

I finally settled on Eddie Noack's Dolores. You remember Eddie, we featured Eddie's Psycho back in Dreamtime 28. You can go read more about him there, but right now we're going to play his Dolores.

[Dolores - Eddie Noack]

The 100-proof Texas honky-tonk, Eddie Noack, who would drink himself to death by age 47.

Dreamtime has a lot of listeners and readers from Great Britain, and we wanted to thank you with what I think is the oldest song on tonight's playlist, recorded on October 30, 1931 by Ray Noble and the New Mayfair Orchestra. I don't have a lot more information on this one... maybe one of my listeners from Merry Olde England can help me out. A trip through yet another haunted house on tonight's Dreamtime Halloween tour, here's the New Mayfair Orchestra and The Haunted House.

[The Haunted House - The New Mayfair Orchestra]

Dreamtime has a long history with this next artist. I'm part of the crowd noise on the album Where's the Money recorded live at the Troubadour back in 19 and 71, when Your Host was all of 19 years of age. And in about a year I'd find myself at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco watching Symphony Sid Page and Papa John Creach do a burn-the-house-down duet on this song. I Scare Myself is about... it's about.... Well, it's about five minutes long.

[I Scare Myself - Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks]



Dylan told us to "go Google" Kay Starr after he played her Wheel of Fortune on the Luck episode, and Dreamtime has another Kay Starr cut for you, appropriate, as they say, to the season.

Bing Crosby originally recorded The Headless Horseman in 19 and 49 for Disney's The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad. Kay covered the song a few months after the movie. She's backed here by the Billy Butterfield Quintet and - I kid you not - The Three Beaus and a Peep. Kay Starr and The Headless Horseman.

[The Headless Horseman - Kay Starr]

Kay Starr with a pretty spooky thing. And that sounds like a cue for our last song. We couldn't let Rocktober pass without at least one Classic Rock song, and here's a good one, the Classics IV with their first national hit. From 19 and 67 on the Imperial Records label, the original (non-instrumental) Spooky.

[Spooky - Classics IV]

I hear the banging on Studio B's door, so I think it's time to get out of here before they start using the fire axes. Tex, thanks for letting me sit in The Man's Seat for this Halloween. Hope I filled his shoes in my own small way and if there's anyone from Cadillac out there - the address is dreamtimepodcast@gmail.com . I'm always available to fill in.

[Close]


Tonight's Playlist

1. Haunted Mansion - (Disney)
2. Intro (Bed Music) Haunted House - Leon Redbone
3. Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
4. Zombie Jamboree - Harry Belafonte
5. She's My Witch - Kip Tyler & the Flips
6. Skeleton in the Closet - Louis Armstrong
7. I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone
8. Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra
9. Annabel Lee - Joan Baez
10. Haunted House - Gene Simmons
11. Dolores - Eddie Noack
12. The Haunted House - New Mayfair Dance Orchestra
13. I Scare Myself - Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
14. Headless Horseman - Kay Starr
15. Spooky - Classics IV

Many of the songs for tonight's show were inspired by Mark Harvey's article for the on-line Halloween Magazine.

***

You've been listening to the Dreamtime podcast – occasional commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour. Dreamtime is researched and written by Fred Bals and is a Not Associated With production. As the name says, we're not associated with XM Radio, Bob Dylan, or much of anything else.

Some of the music on Dreamtime is provided via the Podsafe Music Network. Check it out at music.podshow.com.

Remember that the Dreamtime team loves to get email. You can write us at dreamtimepodcast@gmail.com

The Dreamtime top cats are Curly Lasagna and Shaggy Bear. Our announcers are the notorious honky-tonkin' sisters, Jailbait and Joyride.

Until next time, dream well.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"One of the Ancients" - The Muddy Waters and Alexander Pope Connection




Although unrelated musically, no one can hear the title of the first song aired on Theme Time, Muddy Waters "Blow Wind Blow" without thinking of Dylan’s own "Blowin’ in the Wind." Before playing the song, Dylan makes a cryptic remark about Waters calling him, "one of the ancients by now, whom all moderns prize."

I’ve had days while writing “Dreams, Schemes, and Themes” where I become convinced that Bob Dylan had nothing at all to do with Theme Time past lending his name to it, even to the point where I would get so bull-goose crazy that I would start wondering whether the TTRH team had hired an impressionist to mimic Dylan’s voice on the air, ala Rich Little doing Stacy Keach’s “Mike Hammer” voiceovers while the actor was in jail.

Why not? Who could guess the difference? I mean, how many people actually know Bob Dylan’s speaking voice well enough to tell? Maybe the entire scheme had been put together as a carny act by Dylan, Eddie Gorodetsky, Penn Jillette and Ricky Jay just to see once and for all how much they could get away with. Maybe it was a bet. “Hey we’ll have Bob do a radio show and Bob won’t even be there.”

Maybe that’s why Dylan’s peeps had been so damned adamant about not giving me any info or access to any of the TTRH crew. IT WAS ALL A HOAX! A SCANDLE! QUEL DOMMAGE! Yes! I would uncover the whole damn pitiful scheme and win a Pulitzer, or at least get into the Daily News. I’d find the voice impressionist, probably living in a flophouse on a Skid Row somewhere by now, money from Theme Time gone, hands trembling, in need of a quick fix, eager to tell me the true story for a couple of bucks.

Then I’d come back to reality.

Dylan's "one of the ancients" line is the first salvo fired in the great “did Bob Dylan contribute anything to TTRH?” debate, and a definite point for the “Yes” side. The line is a paraphrase taken from Alexander Pope’s 1711 poem, “An Essay on Criticism,” an unlikely reference for Theme Time producer/writer Eddie Gorodetsky to be making in relation to Muddy Waters, no matter how literate the ex-radio jock and comedy writer may be. On the other hand, if we had the opportunity to browse a certain deejay's bookshelf, I suspect we'd find "An Essay on Criticism" sharing space with Sax Rohmer's "The Hand of Fu-Manchu," and Joan Didion's "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."
The Ancients only, or the Moderns prize:
Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism" (Line 394)
There’s much for Bob Dylan to like in “An Essay on Criticism,” including Pope’s argument that all good writing stems from “the imitation of the ancients,” and his contention that bad criticism is much more tiresome for the reader than bad writing. Dylan may have adapted the “one of the ancients…” line to acknowledge one of the primary tenets of his career: all artists owe a debt to their predecessors, a thread that would run through many of his Theme Time commentaries.

Although little-remembered in these modern times, “An Essay on Criticism” has made several contributions to the popular lexicon including, “a little learning is a dangerous thing,” and “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” both dictums worth remembering as I continue on with my book.



The Theme Time Radio Hour team seem to have a certain nostalgic fondness for "Blow Wind Blow," perhaps because it was the song that launched a 100 Theme Times. I received an email from one of the show's many associate producers after I posted a video of Waters performing the song, who thanked me but noted that the TTRH team favored another version; a November 28, 19 and 70 performance at/on The Beat-Club music show broadcast from Bremen, Germany. It's posted above. Enjoy one of the ancients, who all moderns prize.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

100 Theme Time Radio Hour Polaroids



I think even the most diehard, hopeful fan would admit that Theme Time Radio Hour is over. Sirius XM shows no sign of ending the re-runs, although I suspect one Wednesday we'll tune in and the show will have been replaced with "The Wit & Wisdom of Tom Waits" or something. But over or not, there are still many things to document about TTRH, and we expect to be around for a while longer.

One of the things that has always delighted us about Theme Time was how it inspired so many people in so many ways. Over the past three years, we've heard more than a half-dozen hommages to the show, using anything from reggae to Canadian artists to movies to Bob Dylan's own work as source material. Many were as good as any episode of TTRH. We've seen the show, its artists, the music - even jokes and recipes - all artfully documented. And several fans have created "cover art" for the episodes, including my favorites from a fan who calls himself simply "Man-on-the-Street."

MotS has updated and uploaded all 100 of his TTRH "Polaroids" on Flickr. Whether you use them as CD cover art or not, you'll want to take a look at the collection if you're a TTRH fan. Many of the 100 covers are very funny visual puns, worthy of the show itself. If the TTRH team wander across the 100 Theme Time Radio Hour Polaroids at some time, I think they'll be pleased with what they inspired.
"[He] hates for you to tell him how much he meant to you all your life, through your young years -- he doesn't want to hear that. What he wants to do is tell you the good things about you, so that you can do your own work; he doesn't want you to be involved with him, he would rather inspire you to do your own work..." ~ Patti Smith on Bob Dylan

Monday, October 12, 2009

Betties & Ditty-Bops: Deconstructing Christmas in the Heart's Credits


I have the admittedly weird tic of reading credits and acknowledgments from beginning to end, word-for-word, partly because I dated a lady in the movie biz who got me into the habit of watching a film's end credits as the rest of the audience filed out. "I like to see which of my friends is working," she told me as gaffers, sound synchers and "best boys'" names scrolled down. So be it movie, book, or music, it's always interesting to me to to see the credits of the team that put a project together. Here's some background on the "Christmas in the Heart" credits.

Front Cover

Designer Coco Shinomiya found the CD's Victorian sleigh cover illustration - which many people feel has a distinctly Russian bent to its look - at visuallanguage.com, one of the 150 images on a CD titled "Victorian Scrapbook Treasures II."

As all true Theme Time Radio Hour fans should know, Shinomiya is a graphic designer and art director and two-time Grammy nominee. Look at the credits of any Bob Dylan project of recent years and it's likely that Shinomiya had a hand in its design, including creating the Theme Time Radio Hour iconic logo.


Inside Photo

At the beginning of this article, a detail from Leonard Freed's inside photo for "Christmas in the Heart," a 2000 image taken in Rome of Italian street musicians breaking from their Santa rounds.

Born in Brooklyn in 19 and 29, Leonard Freed began his career in photography while in the Netherlands in 1953. He moved to Amsterdam in 1958 and photographed the Jewish community there, pursuing the theme in numerous books and films. His book on Jews in Germany was published in 1961, and "Made in Germany," about post-war Germany, appeared in 1965.

Working as a freelance photographer, Freed photographed blacks in America, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and a series documenting the New York City police department from 1972 through 1979. He passed away in 2006.



Back Cover Illustration

The back cover illustration of the Three Kings following that Star of Wonder was created by the delightfully named Edwin Fotheringham, a name which sounds as if it could easily belong to "Christmas in the Heart's sleigh driver. Fotheringham was educated at the University of Washington School of Art in Seattle, where he lives today with his family.

According to his on-line bio, "...Fotheringham made a career change from fine artist/stockboy to illustrator in 1992...Having certain band members as housemates afforded Mr. Fotheringham the opportunity to illustrate their CD covers..."

Among his other credits, Fotheringham has illustrated album covers for the band, Mudhoney, and provided illustrations for Neiman Marcus, The New Yorker and Ladies' Home Journal. He's also illustrated two children's books, "What To Do About Alice?" and "Mermaid Queen." "Mr. Fotherigham," as he appears to like to refer to himself, has a great web site, well worth the visit.

Mixed Voice Singers

If anything gives "Christmas in the Heart" that late `50s/early `60s vintage feel it's the "mixed voice" chorus which sounds as if teleported directly from a Ray Conniff Christmas Special. Two members of that chorus - Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald - are better known as The Ditty Bops, an L.A.-based duo with five albums to their credit.

Six of The Ditty Bop's songs have aired on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy," with their song "There's a Girl" appearing on the series soundtrack. The duo has also made appearances on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.

The "Notorious" Bettie Page

The once and forever "Queen of the Pin-Ups," Bettie Page lived as complicated a life and career as Bob Dylan. Somewhat like Bob Dylan, Page's public image evolved into a series of archetypes - Jungle Queen, Girl Next Door, Good Girl Gone Bad - during the `50s. She faded away into obscurity and then saw her legend revived once again in the 1980s.

In 1950, during a walk along the Coney Island shore, a 26-year-old Bettie Page met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer with an interest in photography, and a member of what was euphemistically termed an "outdoor camera club." While there were numerous legitimate camera clubs of amateur photographers operating in the `40s and `50s, Tibbs belonged to one of the quasi-legal groups whose main purpose was to photograph young ladies in various states of déshabille... only for "art use" of course.

Within a few months, Page was posing for various men's magazines of the era, with titles such as Wink, Eyeful, Titter, and Tab. In 1955, Bettie won the title "Miss Pinup Girl of the World" and in January 1955, hit the big time as centerfold in Playboy in a photo session that would inspire the Olivia illustration used for "Christmas in the Heart."

Page's life was plagued by exploitation - even of the relatively mild pin-up and stag film "girlie" industry variety - bad marriages, and in her later life, clinical depression. By 1959, she had ended her pin-up career and had refocused her life on Christianity. In the early 1980s, comic book artist Dave Stevens based his hero's love interest on Bettie Page in the ground-breaking series "The Rocketeer." The popularity of the comic, along with a fanzine titled "The Betty Pages," which included photos from the camera club days, sparked renewed interest in Page's life and career. Dave Stevens would eventually become a close friend of Page, remarking in one interview that he could never have imagined that he would be cashing Page's social security checks and picking up groceries for her when he created "Betty Page" in "The Rocketeer."

Bettie Page passed away on December 6, 2008, leaving behind many fond memories for the boys and men who grew up with the images of "That Girl Next Door."

Out of curiosity, I ran "Bettie Page" and "Bob Dylan" together in a Google search, discovering that they had been separated from each other by a mere five degrees of dating, according to one web site. Probably more fantasy than fact, since Bettie Page's "date" with Sammy Davis Jr. apparently consisted of a shared taxi ride, but there's something attractive about the idea.