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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Compleat Theme Time Radio Hour Shopping List

Current as of January 2011. Originally published as part of our Theme Time Radio Hour "Frequently Asked Questions" document.

Promotional CDs and 45s


Baseball

A CD of the complete Baseball show was released in 2006 as part of a limited in-store promotion for Modern Times. The link above will take you to Amazon where various re-sellers offer the disc for prices ranging from the reasonable to the ridiculous. The disc can also be found on eBay.

If packaging and "original condition" are important to you, you should make sure the packaging is the original cardboard sleeve (with the TTRH logo on the front and playlist on the back) and that the disc itself is not a CD-R copy but the original with silk-screened artwork.

If you liked "Friends and Neighbors" (see below) chances are you'll love "Baseball," which features Your Host Bob Dylan performing Take Me Out to the Ball Game a capella among its other highlights.

Friends & Neighbors

Another CD, featuring the complete "Friends and Neighbors" episode, is part of the "deluxe" Together Through Life package released in April 2009. The CD has everything that makes TTRH special and is the perfect starting point for introducing someone to the show: quirky music, interesting facts and trivia; two emails, wife-swapping and swinging, and Our Host launching into a blistering attack on modern country music. Who could ask for more?  As with the "Baseball" disc, the original "Friends and Neighbors" CD is packaged in a cardboard sleeve displaying cover artwork and track listing.  The CD also displays silk-screened artwork.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

In November 2009, Sony/Columbia offered a limited-edition 45 rpm vinyl record ("while supplies last") as a bonus to some purchasers of the "Christmas in the Heart" album. The B-side of the 45 is Our Host's reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" from the Theme Time Radio Hour Christmas Special.  The A-side of the single also has an interesting Theme Time Radio Hour connection, Bob Dylan's cover of Brave Combo's version of "Must Be Santa," a song that was featured on the TTRH Christmas Special.  Although no longer commercially available, the 45 is offered through various resellers on Amazon.

***

Promotional Compilations

Radio Bob and Radio Bob Another 17 Brillant Tracks...are two compilations originally included as promotional CDs in editions of Uncut magazine. Featuring music only from various episodes of TTRH, the CDs are probably only of interest to collectors wanting a complete TTRH-related collection.  Both compilations can be found on Amazon and eBay.

***

Commercial Compilations

There are currently 11 different commercial CD compilations featuring music only from TTRH.

These compilations do not include Dylan's commentary or other features that made the show unique. The tracks used on the compilations are not necessarily the ones used on the show. If you're interested in the folk, jazz, swing, rockabilly and country music played on TTRH, you might like these sets. If you're looking for TTRH shows, they're not for you.

Chrome Dreams/ISIS Compilations

There are four "unauthorized" (in the sense that they were not produced with the involvement of the TTRH team) sets from the Chrome Dreams/ISIS label:

 The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour Volume 1 and Volume 2 cover the show's first season. For reasons unknown, the U.S. Amazon store isn't carrying Volume 2, but it can be purchased at Amazon U.K. through the link above. Volume 1 can also be purchased at Amazon U.K.

 The Best Of The Second Series compiles music from the show's second season. It can also be purchased at Amazon U.K.

Presumably the last of the Chrome Dreams TTRH issues, Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour - The Best Of The Third Series has been released in the U.K. and  U.S.

All the above compilations are 2-CD sets of 52 tracks each.

Mischief Music "Radio Radio"Compilations

Four other "unauthorized" compilations come from the German Mischief Music label. Radio Radio is a 4-CD box set released in 2008 and covers music from TTRH's first season. A second "Radio, Radio" compilation is also available, Bob Dylan Radio Radio Vol. 2. As with the first, "Vol. 2" is a 4-CD set with 112 tracks. "Vol.2" also focuses entirely on Season 1 of TTRH.  A third 4-CD set, Bob Dylan Radio Radio Vol.3 appears to collect music played over Season 2 of TTRH with a total 108 tracks.

A fourth compilation from Mischief Music was released in late 2010 and is available through Amazon U.K., "Radio Radio: Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour Volume 4." Personally, given that I haven't seen/heard it, I'd approach this one with a caveat audiens 'tude. A Dreamtime correspondent notes that at least one of the tracks was directly recorded from the radio show itself and several of the tunes fade out abruptly.  Definitely a gray market entry in the TTRH field.

Ace Records Compilations

The authorized Theme Time Radio Hour with Your Host Bob Dylan set was compiled by Ace Records U.K. under the supervision of TTRH producer Eddie Gorodetsky and Dylan factotum, Jeff Rosen.

In September 2009 Ace released another 2-CD set, Theme Time Radio Hour Season 2. As the title implies, the compilation features music from Season 2 of TTRH.

In November 2010, Ace  released the third, and presumably last, of its TTRH compilations, Theme Time Radio Hour Season 3 with your host Bob Dylan. The 2-CD set is available for order through both Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.

Of all the commercial compilations, the Ace volumes of Theme Time Radio Hour with Your Host Bob Dylan best reflect the breadth of music played on TTRH.  All contain both relatively modern music, such as The White Stripes Seven Nation Army, The Clash's Tommy Gun, and Nirvana's Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle, as well as the type of vintage cuts you'll find on the other sets.

The Collected Ace TTRH Compilations and the Infamous Slipcase

Ace announced that it would release a box set collecting all three of its TTRH CD compilations in a packaged slipcase resembling a vintage radio, and for a short time advertised that set on both Amazon and Amazon U.K. for a $79.98 U.S. dollars price.

However, as of this writing (November 2010), both the U.S and U.K Amazon pages have been changed to sell the slipcase only - although both note that it is out-of-stock.  Adding to the confusion is the erroneous price listing and description on the Amazon U.S. page, noting a $64.84 discount and that what is being sold is "all three volumes of this acclaimed series based on Bob Dylan's 'Theme Time Radio Hour' radio show from Ace together in this limited edition cardboard box holder"  Add it to your shopping cart if you like - I did - but I think it's highly unlikely that either you or I will eventually receive all three editions of the Ace compilations in a cardboard holder for $15.14.  But hope springs eternal.

For those wishing to buy the slipcase only, the current best bet seems to be through Ace itself.

Other TTRH-related Compilations

The 2008 Starbucks compilation, Artist's Choice - Bob Dylan: Music That Matters To Him is highly recommended. The CD set reflects Dylan's musical interests, "right now," as he relates in the liner notes, and the music in the compilation could easily have appeared on a TTRH playlist. The CD also has another connection to TTRH. Its liner notes state that it was produced by "Tim Ziegler," the fictitious name used by a caller during one of the Season 2 episodes who complained that Dylan had misidentified a record label.

Christmas Party with Eddie G. is the only commercial release of one of TTRH writer/producer's Eddie Gorodetsky's infamous Christmas compilations. It's more Dr. Demento-oriented than a typical TTRH episode, and as its title implies, Christmas Party with Eddie G. is focused entirely on a holiday theme.

The compilation is notable to those interested in the background and origins of  TTRH. The original CD was the only release from Bob Dylan's Strikin' It Rich label, created in October of 19 and 90 with the stated goal of "releasing rare and interesting rhythm and blues material" and an early precursor of what would become the idea for TTRH.  Prices for the CD, available through resellers on Amazon, verge on the ridiculous to the reasonable.

Although overpriced, the CD/DVD set, Ricky Jay Plays Poker is also of interest to the TTRH fan. A friend of Bob Dylan and Eddie Gorodetsky (Eddie G. is one of the table members watching Jay demonstrate various card deceptions on the DVD feature), Jay's compilation could easily be a TTRH set with the theme of "Poker."  The tracklist includes artists as diverse as Memphis Minnie, Anita O'Day, and Lorne Greene. Recommended for the TTRH completist.


***

There are literally dozens "Roots of Bob Dylan" compilations, including at least one using that title, all collecting music that the curators claim had some influence on Bob Dylan. My personal favorite from a TTRH viewpoint is Songs from the Invisible Republic: The Music That Influenced Bob Dylan.

Invisible Republic is a 2-CD set issued by a Repertoire Records, based out of Hamburg, Germany. The 45 cuts on the set include artists as diverse as Odetta, Slim Harpo, Bing Crosby, and Curtis Mayfield. The common thread tying all together... Bob Dylan.

If you've read the various speculations and commentaries on the musical influences on the songs of "Love and Theft" and Modern Times, here's the means to listen to all their antecedents in one package: Gene Austin's The Lonesome Road; Slim Harpo's Shake Your Hips; Bing Crosby's Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day) itself the theme song for Crosby's Philco radio show; Billie Holiday's Having Myself a Time; and more, including the hard-to-find Uncle John's Bongos by Johnny & Jack, which inspired probably the most nakedly transparent music appropriation Dylan has made to date: Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum.

While hard-core Dylan fans may find nothing particularly new in Invisible Republic (for example, the roots of Modern Times were thoroughly covered by the excellent Live Roots and Wounded Flowers bootleg of 2006), the chances are that you'll hear at least one surprise.

Of course, that's one of the delights of Theme Time, hearing music you've never heard before, and connecting it to other music. And it's one of the delights of Invisible Republic. If you want to listen to a Theme Time Radio Hour with the theme of "Roots," you couldn't do better for source material than Invisible Republic.

Friday, March 26, 2010

About Dreamtime

Dreamtime is an archive of blog posts and some 60-odd audio podcasts I created as commentary on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, a weekly satellite radio show that originally aired from April 2006 to May 2009 and is still being rebroadcast at the time of this writing.

Herein you'll find such arcana as a Theme Time Radio Hour FAQ, a list of various TTRH CDs and related material, transcripts of a few of the shows and lots of commentary discussing the show's three-year run.

I've moved on to other projects, and don't plan on updating Dreamtime past March 2010 unless there is some significant news about the show in the future.  As time passes, you'll probably find broken links, missing videos, and so on. That's life on these here interwebs.  I hope you'll still find enough content to have made the visit worth your time.  Thanks and enjoy.

Fred Bals

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Wink Or a Nod from an Unexpected Place

A reblast from the past in honor of the Gorgeous One's induction into the 2010 Wrestling Hall of Fame.






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"... all it takes is a wink or a nod from some unexpected place to vary the tedium of a baffling existence.

That happened to me when Gorgeous George the great wrestler came to my hometown. In the mid-50s, I was performing in the lobby of the National Guard Armory, the Veterans Memorial Building, the site where all the big shows happened - the livestock shows and hockey games, circuses and boxing shows, traveling preacher revivals, country-and-western jamborees.











Once a year or so, Gorgeous George would bring his whole troupe of performers to town: Goliath, The Vampire, The Twister, The Strangler, The Bone Crusher, The Holy Terror, midget wrestlers, a couple of lady wrestlers, and a whole lot more.

I was playing on a makeshift platform in the lobby of the building with the usual wild activity of people milling about, and no one was paying much attention. Suddenly the doors burst open and in came Gorgeous George himself. He roared in like the storm, didn't go through the backstage area, he came right through the lobby of the building and he seemed like forty men. It was Gorgeous George, in all his magnificent glory with all the lightning and vitality you'd expect. He had valets and was surrounded by women carrying roses, wore a majestic fur-lined gold cape and his long blond curls were flowing. He brushed by the makeshift stage and glanced towards the sound of the music. He didn't break stride, but he looked at me, eyes flashing with moonshine. He winked and seemed to mouth the phrase 'You're making it come alive.'"
"I am the Greatest Wrestler in the World!"

During the peak of his career, Gorgeous George's fame was comparable to that of Muhammad Ali's - whose public persona had more than a little of Gorgeous George in it. During the early part of his career, when he was still known as Cassius Clay, Ali was promoting his latest fight on a Las Vegas radio show. Also appearing was Gorgeous George, who was talking up his own fight and who worked himself into a frenzy describing the hurt he planned for opponent,
"If this bum beats me, I’ll crawl down Las Vegas Boulevard on my hands and knees. But it won’t happen. I’ll tear his arm off. For I am the greatest wrestler in the world!"
Like the young Dylan, the young Ali was entranced by George's rhetoric, and became even more enthusiastic when he discovered that George regularly sold out wherever he appeared. Taking up George's invitation, Ali went to see his match and, as he later remembered, "I saw 15,000 people coming to see this man get beat, and his talking did it. I said, 'This is a g-o-o-o-d idea!'"

Gorgeous George's influence can also be seen in Little Richard, James Brown, and Liberace, as well as nearly every other sports or entertainment figure - such as Elton John - who ever adopted a flamboyant, outrageous style.

Gorgeous George was born George Wagner in Seward, Nebraska on March 15, 1915. He began his wrestling career during his teens - often competing at local carnivals, where the prize purse averaged 35 cents. By age 17, George was getting bookings through the area's top promoter. At 5'9' and 215 pounds, Wagner was not all that an imposing a figure, but he developed a reputation as a solid wrestler, and by the late `30s he had legitimately captured two regional titles.

He also met his first wife, Betty Hanson, who George subsequently married in an in-ring ceremony. That turned out to be so popular that the couple incorporated the wedding into their tour and would re-enact it in arenas throughout the U.S. Seeing how show biz elements helped draw crowds may have started George thinking about developing a more memorable shtick than simply straight wrestling. At least one report has it that he got the idea for an effeminate, dandy villain wrestler after reading an article about a now-forgotten contemporary who wrestled under the name Lord Patrick Lansdowne, and who would appear at bouts as a British Lord attended by a valet.

The Human Orchid

Also known as "The Human Orchid," George debuted his new persona in 19 and 41 in Eugene, Oregon, and was instantly slapped with the title "Gorgeous George" by a bemused ring announcer. George rapidly became the villain crowds loved to hate. One of the first wrestlers to use the type of flamboyant entrance now common in pro wrestling matches, George would arrive to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, escorted down a personal red carpet by his ring valet “Jeffries,” who would carry a silver mirror for George to gaze upon as rose petals were strewn at his feet.

These entrances often took longer than the actual bout, as George still had to exchange taunts with the crowd, have Jeffries spray the ring and unwilling opponent with disinfectant which George claimed was "Chanel #10." The show would culminate in George's refusal to let the referee inspect him for foreign objects unless he was also doused by Jeffries while George shrieked in horror, "Keep your filthy hands off me!"

Eventually the match would begin, and George would brazenly ignore the rules while chanting his motto to the audience: "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!"

It was an outrageous, larger-than-life act, tailor-made for the new medium, television. Gorgeous George would become the biggest drawing card of the wrestling industry, as well as one of its first genuine stars. It's been claimed that Gorgeous George was responsible for selling as many TV sets as Milton Berle, Mr. Television, himself.

By the '50s, Gorgeous George was earning over $100,000 a year, making him that decade's highest paid athlete. His most famous match would take place in 1959 before 14,000 fans and millions of television viewers where he would be defeated by longtime rival "Whipper" Billy Watson and would lose his treasured platinum locks to the Whipper's razor.

Although he would wrestle for three more years, and in fact, knowing a good crowd-pleaser when he saw one, would lose his hair to an opponent's razor twice more in those three years, age and a tough lifestyle eventually caught up with the Gorgeous One. George retired in 1962, bought into a turkey ranch and opened a cocktail lounge in Van Nuys, California, "Gorgeous George's Ringside Restaurant," where he would entertain customers with card tricks.

Our Daddy, Gorgeous George

Gorgeous George passed away on December 26, 1963 at age 48. Although he had made millions during his wrestling career and for a time was probably the most recognizable entertainer on the planet, Gorgeous George would die broke. He was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood, California, the final resting place for several other celebrities including Oliver Hardy; Curly Joe from The Three Stooges; and in a coincidental Dreamtime connection, Cliff ("Ukulele Ike") Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket, who also died penniless.

Gorgeous George's grave can be found in plot 6657, near the northeast side of the fountain. A plaque reads "Love to Our Daddy Gorgeous George."

Audio excerpt from Chronicles: Volume One, read by Sean Penn.

***

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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Monday, March 08, 2010

Bob Dylan and Earl Scruggs - East Virginia Blues



One of the things you learn about Bob Dylan is there's always something more to learn about Bob Dylan.  I had never heard of this documentary about Earl Scruggs, variously known as "Earl Scruggs Bluegrass Banjo Legend," "Earl Scruggs: Family and Friends" and "The Bluegrass Legend" among other various titles, and the info about it is slim and as mysterious as the title changes or why Roger McGuinn's last name is spelled as "McGwinn" in the opening credits.  The film was shot by documentary filmmaker David Hoffman, probably sometime between 1969 and 1972,  and aired on PBS (then known as NET, appropriately enough) in either 1970, 1971 or 1972.  You can find various sources claiming all those titles and dates.

How Dylan - or Joan Baez or The Byrds - became involved in the documentary and listed as "Friends" is another mystery, although I suspect Bob Johnston, who was both Dylan's and Scruggs producer at the time, played a role. According to the "Bob Dylan Roots" site:

Basically, Bob Johnston, with his emphasis on the new breed of singer-songwriters (as opposed to the staunch-traditional country and bluegrass songwriters) contributed to the break-up of Flatt & Scruggs. While Earl Scruggs expressed a growing boredom with traditional bluegrass ("I was playing the same thing over and over every night. I just couldn't stand it any longer."), Lester Flatt felt uneasy with Bob Johnston: "He also cuts Bob Dylan and we would record what he would come up with, regardless of whether I liked it or not. I can't sing Bob Dylan stuff, I mean. Columbia has got Bob Dylan, why did they want me?"
- Neil V. Rosenberg, Liner notes for "Flatt & Scruggs", Time-Life Records TLCW-04, 1982
Dylan is playing with Earl Scruggs and Scruggs' sons Gary and Randy, collectively known as "The Earl Scruggs Revue," formed after Scruggs broke up with long-time partner Lester Flatt.  The documentary can be found at Amazon at the link below although I suggest you read the reviews before making a purchase decision.  The documentary can also be viewed online at Dailymotion.



Only $700 and 47 days to go on the "Night Time in the Big City" book!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mama Said Knock You Out



Two white guys who are not LL Cool J sing "Mamma Said Knock You Out,"  one of those guys being Bob Dylan and the other being Stephen Merchant, with a special guest appearance by The Cool One himself.

A nice edit job, with Mr. D.'s recitation being taken from Episode #2 of Theme Time Radio Hour,  "Mother" first broadcast on May 10, 2006 where he memorably recited a full verse of "Mamma Said Knock You Out."

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Annotated “Days of the Week” Theme Time Radio Hour - Episode 53 (Part 2)

 Being the 2nd Part of a Compleat Transcript with Commentary on Episode #53 of Theme Time Radio Hour, "Days of the Week" Part 1 can be found here.

Original air date: October 3, 2007



***


In Episode 53 -- "Days of the Week" -- of  Theme Time Radio Hour, we'll meet Monday's and Saturday's children, learn that Jack White knows his Sundays,  look at the leaders in the TTRH playlist race, hear amazing predictions from the even more Amazing Criswell, listen to a surprise recorder rendition, and receive Our Host's final word on commercial affiliation.  I've split the "Days of the Week" transcript into two parts with Part 1 here.

If you like what you read, you can help fund the "Night Time in the Big City" book, chockful of that Dreamtime commentary you've come to know and love.

***



Bob Dylan: Our next performer is truly one of the greats. He signed with Okeh Records in 19 and 25. Between 1925 and 19 and 32, he cut an estimated 130 tracks. He cut blues, guitar duets with Eddie Lang, recorded with Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5 and Duke Ellington. And those aren’t even the records he’s most famous for. In the late `30s and `40s he recorded for the Bluebird label, great blues tracks like, “He’s a Jellyroll Baker.” In 19 and 47 he joined King Records, and that’s where we pick him up today.

[“Tomorrow Night” – Lonnie Johnson]

Bob Dylan: That was Lonnie Johnson and “Tomorrow Night.” Lonnie fell on hard times in the `50s. He was working as a janitor in Philadelphia. Elmer Snowden, the jazz banjo player, discovered him. In an amazing comeback he made some great records for Prestige in the early `60s and toured with the blues revivalists. But he couldn’t catch a break. In 19 and 69 he was struck by a car in Toronto and died a year later from injuries resulting from that accident. The great Lonnie Johnson and “Tomorrow Night” here on Theme Time Radio Hour.

Bob Dylan: Some other people who are able to see tomorrow night are clairvoyants, such as Madame Blavatsky, who founded the Theosophical Society and Edgar Cayce, the spiritual healer. And who could forget the famed TV psychic from the `50s, The Amazing Criswell? He had a great voice, and even better hair. He was in the movie, “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and was a frequent visitor to `50s television. Let’s listen to a few of Criswell’s predictions.


The Amazing Criswell: Ah, greetings my friend. We are all interested in the future for that it is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives, whether we want to or not. And remember my friend; these future events will affect you. The future is in your hands. I predict: Full medical attention by vending machine. I predict that in the future it will be highly possible to have an appendix operation, give birth to a child or receive an abortion, have a heart transplant, a hair transplant or even a brain transplant by vending machine. Your own weight will be controlled by vending machine for ten cents worth of radaric rays.

Bob Dylan: Thank you, Criswell.

Commentary

The clip is taken from the 19 and 70 LP “The Amazing Criswell Predicts! Your Incredible Future” first released on the very obscure Horoscope Records, and later bootlegged on CD. You can listen to the full 44-minute recording at WFMU’s “Beware of the Blog,” where, given how liberal your interpretation of his proclamations, Criswell correctly predicts the political rise of conservatism, genital piercing, and the end of the world on August 18, 1999.

Bob Dylan is reportedly a reader and fan of both Edgar Cayce and Madame Blavatsky. He uses the latter’s writings as a source multiple times in Chronicles, according to researcher Scott Warmuth. I suspect that if someone did a close comparison between passages from Cayce and Dylan’s book, the same would hold true for the former. The Amazing Criswell is a dubious addition to the group, but I think the old, outrageous fakir holds a special place in Dylan’s heart, given his liking for performers who make a living from duping their audience, while entertaining at the same time.

Bob Dylan: You know, some weeks we don’t play a single Irish group. And here we are today with our second one. This one isn’t quite as serious as U2, however. As a matter of fact they say they write a lot of songs about chocolate and girls. You Irish aficionados already know I’m talking ‘bout The Undertones. They recorded a song called “Teenage Kicks” that fellow deejay, the late John Peel, thought was one of the greatest things he ever heard. His attention got them a deal with Sire Records and they toured opening for The Clash. They wrote a great song about Wednesday, a day of the week that there aren’t many songs about. Here’s one of the best, “Wednesday Week,” The Undertones.

[“Wednesday Week” — The Undertones]

Bob Dylan: That was The Undertones, with “Wednesday Week,” which is kinda an English-Irish way of saying, “next Wednesday.”

Bob Dylan: Wednesday is considered either the third or fourth day of the week, depending on whether you start your week on Sunday or Monday. When Sunday is the first day of the week, Wednesday ends up being in the middle of the week. That’s why the Finnish call it something I can not pronounce, but is translated as “center of the week.” Here in the U.S., we just call it “hump day.”

Bob Dylan: One famous Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent.

Morticia Addams: My name is Mrs. Addams and I want you to find my little girl, Wednesday.

Sergeant Haley: Look, I’ll find her Tuesday if I can, but don’t give me no deadlines, willya please?

Morticia Addams: Wednesday’s her name!

Sergeant Haley: Oh, and I suppose you’re gonna tell me her middle name is Thursday, huh?

Morticia Addams: “Friday.”

Commentary

The Finnish name for Wednesday that Dylan did not want to take on is, “Keskiviikko,” which is pronounced just as you would guess, but apparently looked a bit too daunting in the script.

“My name is Mrs. Addams…”

To belabor the obvious, which is what Dreamtime is all about, the clip is from the great ABC series of the `60s, “The Addams Family,” and is from the 10th episode of its first season, “Wednesday Leaves Home” from 19 and 64. Lovers of classic `60s `70s and `80s commercials will recognize “Sgt. Haley’s” voice as that of The Maytag Repair Man, Jesse White.



Bob Dylan: Well, we’ve covered Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ll bet you can guess what’s next. That’s right, Thursday, and here’s a song all about that day, by a trio called Morphine.

["Thursday" — Morphine]

Bob Dylan: That was Morphine with “Thusday,” telling ya ‘bout what can happen if you push things too far. Might lose a good thing. Unfortunately, on July 3rd 19 and 99 Mark Sandman had a fatal heart attack and died on-stage while playing in a festival in Rome. Morphine, here on Theme Time Radio Hour.

Bob Dylan: We’re looking at the days one-by-one, but we also want to look at them as simply days. Some days you’re the dog, other days you’re the hydrant. Here’s another Mother Goose rhyme:

[“Solomon a Gundie” (background music) – Eric “Monty” Morris]
Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy
Bob Dylan: The name “Solomon Grundy” was also used as the name of The Man Who Couldn’t Die, who was an arch-enemy of the original Green Lantern.

Commentary

Dylan never refers to the artist or music playing in the background during his recitation of “Solomon Grundy,” which is kind of a pity, as it would have been good for a few minutes of commentary. But we’ll fill in for him.

Eric “Monty” Morris’ `60s ska song, even though using the rhyme as its basis, changes Solomon’s name to “Solomon a Gundie.” Under that name, the rhyme was popular with Jamaican children, and later adapted to music by Morris. He had several hits with ska versions of children rhymes, including “Simple Simon” and “Humpty Dumpty.” “Solomon Gundie” is also a pickled herring paste served on crackers in Jamaica. Interestingly, the same term is used in Nova Scotia for pickled herring with sour cream. Both terms probably were corruptions of the British word salmagundi, used to describea recipe of many different ingredients.



The DC villain Solomon Grundy debuted in “All-American Comics” in October 19 and 44 and was also named after the nursery rhyme. The Undead Cyrus Gold, the original Swamp Thing, arises from the muck and mire of Slaughter Swamp, encounters a hobo camp and when asked his name replies that he has none but helpfully offers that he was “born on a Monday.” This of course incites one of the `bos to recite the nursery rhyme. Hilarity and mayhem ensue.

Bob Dylan: And now, TGIF. Thank Goodness It’s Friday.

[Flintstones theme (excerpt)]

Bob Dylan: If you’re like me, you probably have Friday on your mind. Well, here’s the prefect soundtrack from 19 and 65. The Easybeats, “Friday On My Mind.”

[“Friday On My Mind” — The Easybeats]

Bob Dylan: That was The Easybeats, “Friday On My Mind,” here on Theme Time Radio Hour. That song was written by Harry Vanda and George Young. Well, after The Easybeats broke up, Vanda and Young became fulltime songwriters and producers. They helped put together AC/DC. As a matter of fact, two of George Young’s younger brothers, Angus and Malcom, were in AC/DC. Vanda and Young also had another project called, Flash and the Pan. They had a novelty hit with “Hey, St. Peter” and recorded another song that ended up being a big hit for Grace Jones. It was called “Walking in the Rain,” and it’s a shame that we’ve already done our “Weather” show, or we definitely would have played that one.

Bob Dylan: We got time for an email now before we get to the end of the week. Let’s go to the email basket. This one comes from Jackie Van from Manhattan. Jackie writes, “Bob, I know that Sheryl Crow’s a friend of yours. But what is your take on her using Buddy Holly’s great “Not Fade Away” for a TV hair dye commercial? I felt the most awful, stinging disappointment when I first heard it. I felt betrayed by Crow, as I’m almost sure Buddy would have. He was such a stickler for controlling his own material. I can’t imagine his liking this commercial adaptation.”

Bob Dylan: Well, Jackie, I have to disagree with ya. When’s the last time you heard Buddy Holly on the radio? There aren’t a lot of shows like Theme Time Radio Hour. A lot of people get to hear commercials. And if it makes one person curious about either Buddy or Sheryl, I’m all for it. How many people never heard of Nick Drake ‘til he was in a car commercial? A lot of musicians have always been proud to have commercial affiliation. Sonny Boy Williamson sold flour. I can’t imagine Sonny Boy saying, “My blues is too sacred. I wouldn’t sell flour.” Jimmie Rodgers sold biscuits. Sheryl Crow sells hair dye. More power to her. And Jackie, have you ever seen a Victoria’s Secrets ad? (laughs)

Commentary

One of my favorite commentaries from Theme Time Radio Hour, the “commercial affiliation” email from “Jackie Van” may be real, but given the timing this was more likely a stalking horse set up by Eddie Gorodetsky allowing Dylan to express his opinion on the subject. Crow had done the commercial for Revlon some eight months earlier and, unlike the usual email read on “Theme Time,” this one had no obvious connection with the theme or music.

Three weeks after the air date of “Days of the Week,” Cadillac and XM Radio released a cross-promotional advertising campaign featuring Bob Dylan and Theme Time Radio Hour. Dylan appeared in a television commercial for the 2008 Cadillac Escalade hybrid (a commercial featuring music from an artist named “Smog”) and hosted a TTRH episode dedicated to the theme, "Cadillac.”

Cadillac became the formal sponsor of Theme Time Radio Hour, acknowledged with a brief announcement at the beginning of the show, as well as with a branded badge on the show's web page. Given all this, the subject of musicians and commercial affiliation may have been a hot topic in the offices of Grey Water Park and Big Red Tree during the months of September and October. Dylan’s citation of Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmie Rodgers sounds as if repeated from an actual conversation. As well as Rodgers and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Dylan could have used Bob Wills and Hank Williams as two other examples from the legion of artists “proud to have commercial affiliation.” However, as far as I know, Bob Dylan is the only musician who has traveled in ladies’ underwear.



Bob Dylan: Well, with Friday comes the weekend. And one of my favorite songs about the weekend is by the Silver Fox, Charlie Rich. He was a little more sophisticated than a lot of rockabilly musicians. As a matter of fact, Sam Phillips rejected his early demos, complaining that they were “too jazzy.” He did use him as a session musician, though, and you can hear him backing up Johnny Cash, Warren Smith, Billy Lee Riley and Ray Smith, Sam saw the light of day though and in 19 and 58 started releasing Charlie’s records on his Phillips International label. He didn’t have a hit though until 19 and 60 with his third single. Ii became a Top 30 hit and I’m going to play it for you right now.

[“Lonely Weekends” — Charlie Rich]

Bob Dylan: That was Charlie Rich, “Lonely Weekends.” There’s lonely weekends and there’s lost weekends. “The Lost Weekend” won the Academy Award in 19 and 45. It was directed by the great Billy Wilder, and it’s one of the first movie scores to use a theremin. It’s the story of an alcoholic, played by Ray Milland, on a weekend bender. Let’s listen to a little bit as Ray begs his favorite bartender for one more drink.

[“The Lost Weekend” (clip)]

Bob Dylan: There’s no feeling like that moment when you’re getting ready for a Saturday night. The world is full of possibilities. And no one has captured that wistful feeling better than Tom Waits did on this song, the title track from his 19 and 76 album, “The Heart of Saturday Night.” Here’s Tom Waits.

[“(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night” — Tom Waits]

Bob Dylan: That was Tom Waits, “(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night.” Some people look for the heart of Saturday night and they never find it and they get lost in the search. When they do, they can fall victim to wasted days and wasted nights. I’m going to let Dough Sahm do a shout-out to the man who wrote it before he sings it.

[“Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” — Doug Sahm]

Bob Dylan: That was Dough Sahm doing the Freddy Fender classic, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” The thing about days is that they keep rolling on. You finish off a Saturday, and there’s another Sunday waiting in line. We started off our show on Sunday, and we’re going to end it there. After all those wasted days and wasted nights you know there’s going to be a Sunday morning coming down. Here’s Kris Kristofferson with one of his greatest songs, “I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt. And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad. So I had one more for dessert.”

[“Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” — Kris Kristofferson]

Bob Dylan: That was Kris Kristofferson. He’s a Rhodes Scholar. “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down.” Well, I can see the sun coming up over the horizon, and our day here is done. Night creeps in, throwing shadows across the Abernathy Building. I’m going to leave you with the words of the husband of the woman who wrote, “Frankenstein.” That’s right, it’s Percy Byshhe Shelley. At the end of the day, it’s a good night.
Good Night (Shelly c. 1819-20)

Good-night? ah! no; the hour is ill
Which severs those it should unite;
Let us remain together still,
Then it will be good night.

How can I call the lone night good,
Though thy sweet wishes wing its flight?
Be it not said, thought, understood --
Then it will be -- good night.

To hearts which near each other move
From evening close to morning light,
The night is good; because, my love,
They never say good-night.
Good night everybody, see you next week.

[“Top Cat (Underscore)"]

“Pierre Mancini:” Thanks for listening to Theme Time Radio Hour with your host, Bob Dylan. Produced by Eddie Gorodetsky. Associate producer, Ben Rollins. Continuity by “Eeps” Martin. Edited by Damian Rodriguez. Supervising editor, Rob Macomber. Research team: Diane Lapson and Bernie Bernstein, with additional research by April Hayes, Callie Gladman, Terrence Michaels, Sean Patrick and Lynne Sheridan. Librarian: Robert Bower. Production coordinator; Debbie Sweeney. Production assistance by Jim McBean. Special thanks to Randy Ezratty, Coco Shinomiya, and Samson's Diner. For XM Radio, Lee Abrams. Recorded in Studio B, in the historic Abernathy Building. Studio engineer: “Tex” Carbone. This has been a Grey Water Park Production in Association with Big Red Tree. This has been your announcer, Pierre Mancini, speaking. Join us again next week when our subject is subject is, “California.”

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Annotated “Days of the Week” Theme Time Radio Hour - Episode 53 (Part 1)

Being the 1st Part of a Compleat Transcript with Commentary on Episode #53 of Theme Time Radio Hour, "Days of the Week"  Part 2 is here.


Original air date: October 3, 2007



***


In Episode 53 -- "Days of the Week" -- of  Theme Time Radio Hour, we'll meet Monday's and Saturday's children, learn that Jack White knows his Sundays,  look at the leaders in the TTRH playlist race, hear  amazing predictions from the even more Amazing Criswell, listen to a surprise recorder rendition, and receive Our Host's final word on commercial affiliation.  I've split the "Days of the Week" transcript into two parts with Part 2 here.

If you like what you read, you can help fund the "Night Time in the Big City" book, chockful of that Dreamtime commentary you've come to know and love.



[Background – “What a Difference a Day Makes”]

The Woman in Red: It’s nighttime in the Big City. A storm is coming. A woman wonders. It’s Theme Time Radio Hour with your host, Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan:
Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is full of woe.
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving.
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
And the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
Bob Dylan: That’s “Monday’s Child,” a nursery rhyme from “Mother Goose.” It’s also considered a fortune-telling song. You’re supposed to be able to tell a child’s character or what would happen to them in the future based on the day they were born. We’re going to be learning about every day of the week and hearing songs about Monday through Sunday. We’ll hear about “Blue Mondays,” “Ruby Tuesdays,” all the way through Saturday and Sunday. The first page of the Bible explains how God created the world and rested on the seventh. But even people who don’t follow the Judeo-Christian Bible have a seven-day week, so this week’s show will certainly have a world-wide appeal.

Commentary

According to The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, “Monday’s Child” was first recorded in A. E. Bray's “Traditions of Devonshire” in 1838 and was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century.

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on a Saturday, prophetically making him a child who would “work hard for a living.” Perhaps there’s something to the old rhyme after all.

Bob Dylan: Let’s start out with an old tune linking in all seven days. A song by a man named Sterling Harrison, who never got his due. He used to sing demos for Holland, Dozier and Holland, but never had a hit of his own. Before he died he was singing for dollar tips at a barbecue joint at 82nd and Western. There is great music happening all over the country. Sometimes you gotta seek it out, and if you don’t seek it out, it’s just gonna disappear. Here’s a great guy you never heard of, Sterling Harrison and “Seven Days.”

[“Seven Days” — Sterling Harrison]

Bob Dylan: That was Sterling Harrison and “Seven Days,” a song originally recorded by Little Junior Parker.

Commentary

One of the few instances during TTRH’s run where you can see writer/producer Eddie Gorodetsky working behind the curtain. Sterling Harrison’s last album was South of the Snooty Fox, which includes “Seven Days,” and was co-produced by Gorodetsky and Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin. South of the Snooty Fox was recorded in 2001, but attracted no label interest until finally picked up by HackTone Records, a boutique imprint based in Culver City, Calif. The CD was released on the second-year anniversary of Harrison’s death, August 21, 2007, about two months before the “Days of the Week” episode aired.

Although not intended as an insult, Gorodetsky/Dylan’s implication that Sterling Harrison had been reduced to “…singing for dollar tips at a barbecue joint…” before his death is neither accurate nor fair to Harrison’s memory. Sterling Harrison’s sister contacted me shortly after I did a Dreamtime podcast quoting that line. She angrily pointed out – quite rightly – that while Harrison had been happy to pocket dollar tips during his gigs at M&M Soul Food in L.A. he had also regularly performed to sold-out houses in his home town of Richmond, VA until the end of his life. While Sterling Harrison never got his due from a popular standpoint, in his own circle he was successful, well-respected and loved.



Bob Dylan: Some people start the day of the week off with Monday, but I start it off with Sunday, myself. There’s a lot of songs written about Sunday, and some of them are pretty heavy. For example, this one, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,”from 1983 by U2. It’s a song about the slaughter of innocent civilians in Ireland. It attempts to compare and contrast the troubles in Northern Ireland with the significance of Easter Sunday. On January 30th 1972, thirty thousand people marched into Derry, in a march organized by the civil rights association. Armored cars appeared from behind barriers. British troops boxed in hundreds of people. All of the soldiers were fully armed with combat rifles. Suddenly, shots rang out. At the end of the day, thirteen people lay dead and seventeen wounded. U2 wrote the following song so those people would never be forgotten. Here’s U2, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”

[“Sunday Bloody Sunday” — U2]

Bob Dylan: That was U2, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” Let’s take a moment and remember the names of the people who died that day: John Duddy, Paddy Doherty, Bernard McGuigan, “Pi” Gilmour, Kevin McElhinney, Michael McDaid, William Nash, John Young, Michael Kelly, Jim Wray, Gerald Donaghy, Gerald McKinney, William McKinney and John Johnston.

Bob Dylan: Jack White doesn’t find Sunday particularly sad. But he knows when it is a Sunday. I’ll let him explain.

Jack White: Y’know, funny you should ask, Bob, about the days of the week because going out on tour it seems like no matter where I am in the world I always know when it’s Sunday. Y’know, I don’t know what the date is, maybe I don’t even know what month or year it is or what country we’re in, but I know it’s Sunday for some reason. And, uh, I’ve always wondered why that is.

Commentary

The barely articulate Mr. White was on the list of “special guests” noted in the XM Radio press release announcing Season 2 and by early 2008 would air two more commentaries on Theme Time.

There was a period during 2007 when Bob Dylan and Jack White appeared to have pledged to be BFFs, with White participating in Dylan’s still-unreleased Hank Williams Project and joining Dylan at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for the first ever live performance of “Meet Me in the Morning.” The relationship may have cooled somewhat by 2009, with White pointing out during a lecture at Trinity College that in her own way Britney Spears was more “authentic” than either Tom Waits or Bob Dylan. On the other hand, that’s the sort of off-the-wall opinion that one wouldn’t be surprised to hear expressed by Bob Dylan himself.

Bob Dylan: Let’s cheer things up a little bit. I don’t want the whole show to be tear-stained. Here’s Frankie Lee Sims. You might be wondering why a song called, “Lucy Mae Blues” is being played on our “Days of the Week” show. Well, give a listen.

[“Lucy Mae Blues” — Frankie Lee Sims]

Bob Dylan: That was Frankie Lee Sims, He’s Lightnin’ Hopkins cousin. Born in New Orleans, died in Dallas. And recorded that song, which is kind of a mash-up, between a couple of blues standards. You hear a little bit of “Ain’t No Tellin’” which Mississippi John Hurt made famous and a little taste of, “My Sunday Woman,” or as some people call it, “Every Day in the Week.” I like the version by Sleepy John Estes.

Commentary

Dylan is a longtime fan of Sleepy John Estes, name-checking him in the first stanza of his free-form poem used for the liner notes of 19 and 65’s “Bringing it all Back Home.”
I'm standing there watching the parade/
feeling combination of sleepy john estes.
jayne mansfield. humphry bogart/morti-
mer snerd. murph the surf and so forth/
Bob Dylan: Let’s move on through the week now. We’ve gotten through Sunday. You know what that means.

[Robotic jingle – “Monday”]

Bob Dylan: It’s time for Monday, and if I know my radio show, that sounds like a song cue. Here’s Smiley Lewis and his song, “Blue Monday.” You probably know it better by Fats Domino. But whenever we have the chance to play Smiley, we like to do it.

[Blue Monday – Smiley Lewis]

Bob Dylan: That was Smiley Lewis, who is edging out George Jones as the most-played artist on Theme Time Radio Hour. “Blue Monday.”

Commentary

By the close of Season 3, George Jones had been supplanted as “most-played artist” on TTRH by Tom Waits and Dinah Washington. Both would have a total 10 spins on the turntable by the end of the series. For the completist, Tom Waits is unquestionably the “most-mentioned” TTRH artiste, thanks to his many taped commentaries during Seasons 2 and 3 as well as the airplay he was given by Dylan.

George Jones, who had led the “most-played pack” in both Seasons 1 and 2, would make no appearances at all during Season 3. He still had accumulated enough airplay in the previous two seasons to tie with Elvis Costello for second place, having a total nine songs played on Theme Time.

Smiley Lewis ended up placing in the Top 5, sharing fifth-place honors with June Christy, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, JB Lenoir, Little Walter, Los Lobos, Loretta Lynn, Randy Newman, Elvis Presley, and The Stanley Brothers. That list is a pretty accurate representation of the catholic tastes of the three major influences on the TTRH musical playlist: Bob Dylan, Eddie Gorodetsky, and the pseudonymous jazz-loving associate producer who during Season 2 was referring to him/herself as “Ben Rollins.”

Bob Dylan: In the beginning, the days of the week were named after deities who had dominion over that particular day. Some of these are pretty obvious. You know Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. Nowadays, English has retained the original planet names for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Saturn, Sun, and Moon. The other four days are the names of Anglo-Saxon or Nordic gods, replacing the Roman gods who gave names to the planets. For example, Wednesday is named after Woden or Odin. Thursday’s named after Thor. And Friday is named after Freya.

Bob Dylan: Personally, I would have named Tuesday after “Ruby.” But The Rolling Stones beat me to it.

[“Ruby Tuesday” – The Rolling Stones]

Bob Dylan: That was “Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones. One of the prettiest songs they ever recorded and it’s from “Between the Buttons.” You might be interested to know that “Ruby Tuesday” was supposed to only be a B-side. For those of you who don’t know what a B-side is, that was the other side of a 45, that wasn’t a hit. The A-side in this case was supposed to be “Let’s Spend the Night Together.’ But a lot of disc jockeys thought it was too sexual, and so they wouldn’t play it. But they played the flip side, and that’s how “Ruby Tuesday” became such a hit.

Bob Dylan: What I like about that record is Brian Jones playing the recorder. The recorder is a woodwind of the family known as “fipple flutes.” A “fipple” is a wooden plug at the end of a flute. The flute, in its heyday, was associated with birds, shepherds, miraculous events, funerals, marriages, and amorous scenes. I think it’s one of the most beautiful sounds known to man. I brought mine with me today, and if you don’t mind, I’m gonna play a little somethin’ for ya.

[clears throat]

[“Blowin’ in the Wind”(excerpt) – Bob Dylan]

Bob Dylan: How ‘bout that? Anton Chekhov once said, “There isn’t a Monday that would not cede its place to Tuesday.”

Commentary

“How ‘bout that?”

One of those unanticipated, delightful moments on TTRH, equal to his a capella rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” is Bob Dylan playing an excerpt of “Blowin’ in the Wind” on a recorder during the “Days of the Week” show. While there were many instances when he would allude to his “other job” during Theme Time’s run, this would be the only time Dylan would play one of his own songs on the show, and play it live to boot.

There are at least two documented instances of Dylan publicly playing the recorder, both during appearances for the West Coast Chabad Lubavitch Telethon in 1989 and 1991.



“There isn’t a Monday…”

A paraphrase of a quote from “Note-Book of Anton Chekhov,” a volume of notes and quotations which Chekhov liked, as well as themes and sketches for works which he intended to write. The editors of the book noted that it was “characteristic of the methods of [Chekhov’s] artistic production.”
“There is no Monday which will not give its place to Tuesday.”
As with many writers Dylan uses a similar mechanism, sometimes referred to as his “box of notes” according to the few first-hand accounts of his writing methods.

Dylan stated in a PLAYBOY interview that Chekhov was his favorite writer and later claimed in Chronicles that he wrote an entire album based on Chekhov short stories, wryly remarking that the critics had called it, “autobiographical.” Dylan is probably stretching the truth when he uses the term, “based.” Given that the line wasn’t deliberately designed to madden obsessive fans, it’s likely that, as is Dylan’s habit, he took several lines and phrases from Chekhov for use in his songs. There’s evidence that the unnamed album he refers to was “Blood on the Tracks,” which contains several phrases and descriptive passages which seem to have originated with Chekhov.  (cont. in Part 2.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Annotated “Flowers” Theme Time Radio Hour - Episode 11 (Part 2)

Being the 2nd Part of a Compleat Transcript with Commentary on Episode #11 of Theme Time Radio Hour, "Flowers"

Original air date: July 12, 2006


***

There's much of note in Episode 11 -- "Flowers" -- of Theme Time Radio Hour, including monster lists, the largest group of def poetry readings in the show's history, quotations from Buddha, Isiah, and H.L. Mencken among others, a mystery laugh, appearances by two Dylan contemporaries from the Greenwich Village scene of the `60s, and some evidence that Our Host was wingin' his commentary as much as reading from a script. 

The transcript/commentary length was way past what I think a typical blog reader would tolerate, so I've split the "Flowers" transcript into two parts.  Part One can be found here. ~ fhb

***



[Commercial clip – Singers: “You’re so much wiser to buy fertilizer where you get the best in price and quality!” Announcer: “Yes and there is a difference in the price and quality of fertilizer! See us for the best in both! ]

Bob Dylan: Tiny Tim was a character who played around Greenwich Village in the Fifties and Sixties. And a lot of people just think that he was a joke. But I’ll tell ya, no one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim did. He studied it and he lived it. He knew all the songs that only existed as sheet music. When he passed away, we lost a national treasure. Here’s Tiny Tim, and the only song that made it to the top of the charts and kept him in the public eye. Here’s “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips” on Theme Time Radio Hour.

[Tiny Tim – “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips”]

Bob Dylan: That was “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim, a song that sold over 200,000 copies. In 19 and 68 when Tiny Tim got married on the Johnny Carson Show it was one of the biggest events in television history. And deservedly so. His daughter from that marriage was named “Tulip.”

Commentary

Dylan’s admiration for Tiny Tim is obvious in this segment, and the Bob Dylan/Tiny Tim connection has a long, rich history, which Dylan alludes to as he introduces "Tip-Toe through the Tulips." In Chronicles, Volume I, Dylan writes about their first meeting,
"One of the guys who played in the afternoons was the falsetto-speaking Tiny Tim. He played ukulele and sang like a girl -- old standard songs from the '20s…"
Tiny Tim was born Herbert Buckingham Khaury, on April 12, probably in 1932, although in various interviews he gave his birth year as anytime between 1922 and 1932. His first performances -- under the name Larry Love -- took place in 1954, where he won several amateur contests. His professional career began in 1963 or '64 at a lesbian cabaret in Greenwich Village called the Page 3. In a short time, Tiny Tim was well-known in the Greenwich Village music scene, although more as a novelty act than for his deep knowledge of American music.

In Chronicles, Dylan goes on to tell about sharing lunch with Tim, "The best part of working with [Fred Neil] was strictly gastronomical -- all the French fries and hamburgers I could eat. At some point during the day, Tiny Tim and I would go in the kitchen and hang around. Norbert the cook would usually have a greasy burger waiting. Either that, or he'd let us empty a can of pork and beans or spaghetti into a frying pan."

In 1967, Dylan and Tiny Tim would meet again, when Tim recorded several songs with The Band for Peter Yarrow’s deservedly seldom-seen rockumentary, "You Are What You Eat." The Band/Tiny Tim collaboration included “Memphis, Tennessee,” the Sonny and Cher classic, “I Got You Babe,” and the Al Jolson standard, “Sonny Boy.”

According to Tim, Dylan renewed their friendship after hearing he was recording with The Band, and invited him to his Woodstock home. Greeting Tim at midnight Dylan’s first words were, "Tiny, I never saw a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey game."

In the course of conversation, Tim serenaded Dylan with Rudy Vallee’s "Maine Stein Song" and "My Time is Your Time" and played Dylan's own "Like A Rolling Stone" - comparing Dylan's popularity to Valle's. According to Tiny Tim, "After he [heard] the comparison to [Rudy] Vallee and what he meant to me Dylan said, 'Look, do you want a banana before you go to bed?' I said, 'No, I have my own fruit with me.'"



Before retiring for the night, Tim sang an Irving Kaufman song from 19 and 23 called "What's Today Got To Do With Tomorrow (When Tomorrow's So Far Away)", and Dylan in turn played "Cool Water” for him. Dylan also offered Tim a minor part in "Eat the Document," for which Tim was paid $22.00.

Tim's performance in “You Are What You Eat” led to his first TV appearance on the popular “Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In,” where he was an instant sensation, although perhaps not in the way he wanted. But that was hard to tell. Tiny Tim seemed to exist in his own space; oblivious to snickers, laughter, and ridicule. In any case, he became a hot TV property, appearing on “Laugh-In” several more times, as well as on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, and, of course The Tonight Show.

In 1969 [not 1968, as Dylan mistakenly says] in front of an estimated 40 million viewers, he would marry Victoria May Budinger, better known as "Miss Vicki," on The Tonight Show. The couple had a daughter, Tulip, as Dylan also mentions on Theme Time, but lived apart, and divorced after eight years of marriage. Tulip is alive and well and living in Pennsylvania with her family.

Although the public's taste for Tim's inherent weirdness faded away by the mid-70s, he never stopped performing wherever and whenever he could, reportedly even joining a circus for a few months in the 1980s. In September of 1996, Tiny Tim suffered a heart attack while performing at the Ukulele Hall of Fame in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Upon his release from the hospital, Tim resumed his concert schedule, but, on November 30 1996, suffered another heart attack in Minneapolis while performing his signature song. He died an hour later. His remains are in the mausoleum of Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A true eccentric who happened to be in the right place at the right time to become a media star, and a lover of the American songbook who dedicated his life to bringing back old, obscure songs, Tiny Tim never let his personal oddities or public reaction interfere with his main mission… singing the songs he loved.




Bob Dylan: “Beauty itself is a faded flower.” Another flower that faded was “The Wildwood Flower.” We’re going to hear “The Wildwood Flower” by the most influential group in country music history, The Carter Family. They switched the emphasis from hillbilly instrumentals to vocals. Alvin P. Carter, his wife Sara, and his sister-in-law, Mabel, sang pure, simple harmony. A.P. collected hundreds of British-Appalachian folk songs and recorded them, enhancing the pure beauty of these “facts-of-life” tunes. Here’s one of the best, still fresh as a daisy, “Wildwood Flower.”

[The Carter Family – “Wildwood Flower”]

Commentary

“Beauty itself is a faded flower.”

Dylan is paraphrasing Isaiah 28:4, again probably from memory…
“And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up.”
“…the most influential group in country music history.”

Dylan’s commentary on The Carter Family is taken almost verbatim from the first paragraph of their entry in the “allmusic” web site.

Bob Dylan: That was The Carter Family with “Wildwood Flower.” This song was originally a written song from 1860, called “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets.” These songs were passed around from person to person over a long period. By the time the tune got to The Carter Family many people claimed to have written it. And like a game of “Telephone,” some of the words stopped making sense altogether. “I will twine and will mingle my weepin’ black hair/ With the roses so red and the lilies so fair/The myrtle so green of an emerald hue/ The pale emanita and violets of blue.” These lyrics are difficult to interpret. There’s no flower named “emanita.” Some hear it as “the pale and the leader.” Somehow, amidst the confusion, the song still makes sense.

Commentary

Most of Dylan’s information appears taken from the Wikipedia page on “Wildwood Flower.” It’s interesting that he specifically cites the “pale and leader” variant of the line, as that was the way the line was sung by Joan Baez on her debut album of 19 and 60. While Dylan was certainly already familiar with the song before meeting Baez, one can imagine the two singing the song together and using that line.

Bob Dylan: I got another song that A.P. Carter composed or found. Another song about roses. This one is called “When the Roses Bloom Again.” It’s by a young singer from Nashville, Tennessee named Laura Cantrell. British disc jockey John Peel called her album, “Not the Tremblin’ Kind, “…my favorite record from the last 10 years… and possibly my life.” “When the Roses Bloom Again,” Laura Cantrell.

[Laura Cantrell – “When the Roses Bloom Again”]

Bob Dylan: “Taking time to stop and smell the roses.” Laura Cantrell, “When the Roses Bloom Again.” Laura became a mother this year, giving birth to young Isabella May. Congratulations, Laura.

Commentary

Cantrell’s daughter was born in May 2006, indicating that Dylan recorded his narrative sometime between that month and the show’s air date of July 12, 2006.  See the entry on “The Sharpest Thorn," which narrows the timeline even further.

Bob Dylan: I was golfing with Ricky Jay, the magician, and he told me something interesting…


Photo: Ricky Jay. Credit: Jesse Dylan

Ricky Jay: Many stage acts made use of flowers, but more interesting than that was a very early Dutch woman – off the top of my head I can’t remember whether she was 17th century or 6th century – named Eva Vlieghan who was supposed to have lived entirely off the scent of flowers. Ate nor drank food or water but lived entirely off the scent of flowers. It was presented as a religious oddity rather than someone you actually paid to see perform. But I think she did… ah, she rather enjoyed if people left donations.

Commentary

“I was golfing with Ricky Jay…”

There have been various reports in recent years that Dylan is an ardent golfer, including speculation that he bought his Scottish mansion because it was right next door to Abernethy (not “Abernathy”) GC, a nine-hole course built in 1893. Both Dylan had Eddie Gorodetsky are friends of Ricky Jay, and Jay’s appearance on TTRH could have been at the invitation of either. The mind boggles at the thought of being on the links and confronted with a threesome composed of Messrs. Dylan, Gorodetsky and Jay, with perhaps the foursome being rounded out by Penn Jillette.




“Eva Vlieghan…”

In the year 1594, at age 19, Eva Vliegen began to eat less and less. Contemporary reports have it that beginning in 1597 she took no nourishment whatsoever. It was said that she lived from the fragrance of flowers, with Eva herself claiming that she was being fed by a honey-sweet substance supplied by Heaven. Her town council attested in writing that their examination of Vliegen proved she was not a fraud.

In early 1614, Vliegen abruptly declared an angel had appeared to her to announce that God was going to punish humankind with “widespread death,” and from that moment forward refused to utter another word, a silence she successfully maintained until her reported death later that year. Reports become confused at this point, with Vliegen apparently somehow discovered alive and well some fourteen years later living in a house with an ample supply of food and drink. She was reportedly arrested and disappeared into the mists of legend.

For centuries a wax figure of Vliegen, nicknamed in Dutch legend “Bessie Meurs,” was exhibited in an Amsterdam garden maze. A mechanism enabled the waxwork to wipe the crumbs from its mouth with its arm, to the accompaniment of a rhyme:

This old crone is Bessie Meurs, most faithless of females
She shakes her head, ay, swears an oath, while spouting her tall tales:
For two and thirty years, she says, she’s eaten not a crust,
She tells a string of barefaced lies, her words you cannot trust.

Eva Vliegen, a woman of obvious attraction to modern mountebanks Ricky Jay and Bob Dylan.

[Geraint Watkins – “Only a Rose” (background)]

Bob Dylan: Well there’s no shortage of rose songs, and here’s one I first heard through the grape vine. It’s from a young Welshman named Geraint Watkins. He played piano and accordion with Dave Edmunds and Shakin’ Stevens. But more recently he’s been in Nick Lowe’s band and has recorded and toured with Van Morrison. Here’s a beautiful song that he wrote, “Only a Rose.” Geraint Watkins.

[Geraint Watkins – “Only a Rose”]

Bob Dylan: Geraint Watkins, “Only a Rose.” And remember, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.




Bob Dylan: Gonzalo Perez from Austin Texas sent us an email. He asks, “Can I plant pansies in the fall?” Well, Gonzalo, traditionally pansies were the first spring annual I set out each year. I eagerly await their appearance at my local garden center. No matter how much I picked and deadheaded, by June they were leggy and limp from the heat and I pulled them to make room for something else. But now, late summer varieties are available. They may go dormant in cold winters, but they revive in the spring. Happy planting from Theme Time Radio Hour.

Bob Dylan: I wasn’t gonna play any more rose songs, but how could I not play this one? It went to Number 3 in 19 and 67 and it’s called “I Threw Away the Rose.” We’ve talked a lot about Merle, so I’m just going to play the record.

[Merle Haggard – “I Threw Away the Rose”]

Bob Dylan: That was Merle Haggard, “I Threw Away the Rose,” with his story of unrequited love. This is Theme Time Radio Hour, and we’re discussing flowers. Buddha said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” Georgia O’Keefe, who knew a little bit about flowers, said that when you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment. On the other hand, according to Mencken, a cynic is a man who when he smells flowers looks around for a coffin. Mencken was definitely not someone who ever let the green grass fool him.

[Wilson Pickett – “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You” (background)]

Bob Dylan: Another person like that is one of the roughest and sweatiest soul singers of the Sixties. Wilson Pickett, “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You.”

[Wilson Pickett – “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You”]

Bob Dylan: That was Wilson Pickett, “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You,” the centerpiece of the 19 and 70 album, “Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia.” He got a bunch of hits on Atlantic Records, but after the hits began drying up he gave a pair of young producers, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, a chance to update his sound.

Bob Dylan: We’re just about outta time here and I gotta get home and water my azaleas. But we got time for one song first. Roses are the most popular flower to give, so let’s hear one more song about `em. Why not make it Allen Toussaint? Allen just did a new album with Elvis Costello, and they wrote a bunch of new songs together. Here’s one of `em, called “The Sharpest Thorn.” “Hot as a pistol, keen as a blade. The sharpest thorn, upon parade.” Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint.

[Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint – “The Sharpest Thorn”]

Commentary

“Allen just did a new album with Elvis Costello…”

“The Sharpest Thorn” was a track on the Costello/Toussaint collaborative album, “The River in Reverse,” released June 6, 2006, further narrowing down the window when Dylan recorded his narrative to roughly sometime between early June and early July 2006.

Bob Dylan: That was Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello, “The Sharpest Thorn” from the album, The River in Reverse,” on Theme Time Radio Hour.

Bob Dylan: Well it’s been an hour, so I gotta make like a tree, and leave. But don’t worry, I’ll be back next week with more dreams, themes, and schemes on Theme Time Radio Hour, your perennial favorite.

[“Top Cat (Underscore)"]

“Pierre Mancini:” You’ve been listening to Theme Time Radio Hour with your host, Bob Dylan. Produced by Eddie Gorodetsky. Associate producer, Sonny Webster. Continuity by “Eeps” Martin. Edited by Damian Rodriguez. Supervising editor, Rob Macomber. The Theme Time research team: Diane Lapson and Bernie Bernstein, with additional research by Lynne Sheridan, Kimberly Williams, and Robert Bower. Production assistance by Jim McBean. Special thanks to Randy Ezratty, Debbie Sweeney, Coco Shinomiya, and Samson's Diner. For XM Radio, Lee Abrams. Recorded in Studio B, The Abernathy Building. This has been a Grey Water Park Production in Association with Big Red Tree. This has been your announcer, Pierre Mancini, speaking. Join us again next week for Theme Time Radio Hour when the subject is..."