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Monday, February 26, 2007

Caravan - Golf Girl

If I get much more self-referential, I'm liable to disappear into my own navel.

Here's the alt-Universe Theme Time video of the week, Caravan's Golf Girl from the "lost" Golf episode.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Episode 30 - A Good Walk Spoiled

Direct link to mp3.

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Welcome to your other home for schemes and themes.

Today we're talking about tees, birdies, pars and eagles. Irons, clubs, and woods. Bunkers and niblicks. Wedges, divots and mulligans.

Yes, we're talking about the great game that Mark Twain called a "good walk spoiled." Golf.

And to start us off our walk up the fairway we have a man whose wife said was "a golfer who sang for a living." Der Bingle himself, with a song written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen and recorded by in 19 and 57 - "Straight Down the Middle."

[Straight Down the Middle]

Bing used to sing the song at his "Crosby Clambakes," his pro-am tournament that he started in Pebble Beach in 19 and 37 and which ran until 2001.

Bing died of a heart attack in 1977 after walking off the 18th green after a golf game. He shot an 85 and won $10. His last words were, "That was a great game of golf, fellas."

Many movie stars, presidents, even musicians have loved the game of golf, including Jackie Gleason who based his show out of Miami Beach so he could play golf year-round, Bob Hope, Meat Loaf, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Murray, Jack Nicholson, George Strait, Clint Eastwood, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cameron Diaz, Glen Campbell, Katherine Hepburn, Kenny G. Huey Lewis, Vince Gill, and Alice Cooper.

And Bob Dylan, who has been seen on the links at the Malibu Country Club, reportedly has a 17 handicap.

One of the most famous celebrity women golfers was Dinah Shore, even though she had a slight limp caused by childhood polio. When Colgate approached Dinah about hosting a golf tournament for lady golfers, Dinah accepted with enthusiasm and took up the game in earnest. The Colgate (and now Nabisco) Dinah Shore Tournament has been held at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California near Palm Springs since 19 and 72.

Dinah's given name was Frances Rose Shore. But when a New York DJ could only remember the name of a song she had sung at an audition, and asked for "that 'Dinah' girl," the name stuck. While Dinah Shore was a recording, radio, and television star, if you're of a certain age, you might remember her best for her commercials for the Chevrolet Automotive Company…

[See the USA in Your Chevrolet – Dinah Shore]

See the USA in your Chevrolet
America is asking you to call
Drive your Chevrolet through the USA
America's the greatest land of all

On a highway, or a road along the levee
Performance is sweeter, nothing can beat her
Life is completer in a Chevy

So make a date today to see the USA
And see it in your Chevrolet

Traveling East, Travelling West
Wherever you go Chevy service is best
Southward or North, near place or far
There's a Chevrolet dealer for your Chevrolet car

So make a date today to see the USA
And see it in your Chevrolet.

People say that golf got its name because all of the other four letter words were taken.

Musician Glenn Frey is another avid golfer. He was once asked why he'd never written any songs about golf.

"Because there are no good songs about golf," he answered.

We aim to prove him wrong at Dreamtime. Here's a pretty song and a good song and more than a pretty good about golf by the British pop group, Caravan. From 19 and 71, "Golf Girl."

[Golf Girl – Caravan]

In proper English fashion, the Golf Girl sells tea, not beer, as she would in the US of A.

The average golf ball is moving at over 180 miles per hour when driven off the tee. No one is quite sure why golfers shout "Fore" to warn players ahead, but at that speed, you can understand why they do. The term may have evolved from "forecaddie," someone who walked ahead of a golf group and whose job was to track down a ball's location. Or, it may have come from the British artillery warning to infantrymen to drop down before a cannon was fired.

[Fore segment]

Why do golfers wear two pairs of socks?

In case they get a hole in one.

In the 1968 book M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker, Hawkeye uses the ruse of "being the pro from Dover" to obtain free entrance to golf courses. Hawkeye would walk into a pro shop, explain that he was just passing through and that he was Joe, Dave or Jack Somebody, the pro from Dover, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, England, Ohio, Delaware, Tennessee - or Dover-Foxcroft, Maine - whichever location seemed the most likely. The line was used in the movie, but never explained.

Now here's someone who appeared several times in the television version of M*A*S*H, Loudon Wainwright the III. Wainwright once opened an episode of M*A*S*H singing the song "Tokyo", the only time that the series opened without its regular title theme "Suicide is Painless".

Loudon Wainwright with "The Back Nine" -- from his 1986 album More Love Songs

[The Back Nine - Loudon Wainwright]

Wainwright was once tagged one of the many "new Dylans" in the `70s. It turned out that Wainwright was no more a new Dylan than Dylan was an old Wainwright – something that probably made them both very happy. In celebration of Dylan's 50th birthday in 19 and 92, Wainwright penned him an ode, "Talkin' New Bob Dylan

Hey, Bob Dylan, I wrote you a song.
Today is your birthday if I'm not wrong.
If I'm not mistaken you're fifty today,
How are you doin', Bob? What do you say?

Loudon Wainwright III – A Pro from Dover Poet


Dylan recently purchased an estate in the home of golf, Scotland. His 10-bedroom manor is in the village of Nethy Bridge on the River Spey. And there's a nine-hole golf course right next door, the Abernethy golf club.

The Abernethy? Well, that explains a lot.

We got some email here, one from a E Scallet of Washington, D.C. who writes,
Dear Dreamtime,

I have a terrible golf hook. How can I fix it?

Well E. As in the Slice, the Hook is often a product of an improper grip.

Start by looking at your current grip. Remembering the Basics of the Golf Grip, you should only see two knuckles of your left hand. If you see three knuckles, then you have a "strong grip" and this mayb e the cause of your Golf Hook.

You can fix your Hook by trying to change you grip to a "weak grip". Turn your hands slightly counter-clockwise on your grip, thus weakening the Grip. Grip pressure is also a key element in the release process. If the pressure is too loose at impact then the tendency will for the club to release too early causing the ball to Hook. Remember the basics and only hold the club tight enough to keep control.

Hope that helps, E, and keep practicing!
Here's a man who knows how to swing a stick… and how to play a hot tune. Bruce Hornsby working on his swing in the zydeco-flavored "Big Stick."

[Bruce Hornsby - Big Stick]

The sand wedge was designed by golfer Gene Sarazen in 19 and 30 to stroke a golf ball from a sand bunker, also known as a sand trap, bunker or hazard. After Sarazen won the 1932 British and U.S. Opens with the help of his new club, its popularity quickly grew. Professional golfers can hit a sand wedge as far as 120 yards.

Well, we're at the 18th hole and I think it's time to go get a tall, cool one at the club house. We're finishing up with a song that isn't about golf, but is from one of the funniest golf movies ever made, Caddyshack. I'm Alright, by Kenny Loggins.

[I'm Alright]

Keep your sticks straight and your balls clean, and may every one of your shots go straight down that fairway to heaven. See you real soon…

Sources: Most of the songs come out of Matt Hendrickson's Golf Online article, Swing and a Hit. Various Dylan, golf and "Abernethy" threads can be found at Expecting Rain, always my primary source for all things Dylan.


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 com. Our closing theme is performed by Lounge Affaire, courtesy of Christopher Murphy Studio.

We love your email and you can write us at

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.

Visit the Dreamtime Store

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nina Simone -Mississippi Goddam

You might know Simone's voice better from commercials featuring My Baby Cares for Me, or I Put a Spell on You, or from movie soundtracks where her 10-minute+ Sinner Man is a perennial favorite for action scenes. But Mississippi Goddam is the quintessence of Nina Simone, ranking with her Four Women for depth of black outrage and despair.

According to Simone's autobiography, I Put a Spell on You, after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama - a bombing that killed four little girls, she suddenly realized "what it was to be black in America in 1963."

Simone's first reaction to the news was to start gathering materials for a zip gun in preparation to go out to the streets and begin killing whites herself, but, realized, "I knew nothing about killing [but] I knew about music. I sat down at my piano. An hour later I came out of my apartment with the sheet music for 'Mississippi Goddam' in my hand. It was my first civil rights song and it erupted out of me quicker than I could write it down. I knew then that I would dedicate myself to the struggle for black justice, freedom and equality under the law for as long as it took..."

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer
The song was first recorded live at Carnegie Hall in March of 1964 and Simone's career would change radically thereafter as she transitioned from lounge to protest singer.

There are too many excellent Nina Simone albums available for me to recommend just one, but, if you're unfamiliar with Simone and looking for a strong compilation that covers her evolution from supper club to protest singer, you couldn't go wrong with, Nina: The Essential Nina Simone, which includes most of her best-known work, from My Baby Just Cares For Me to Mississippi Goddam.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Episode 29 - Please Don't Go Topless, Mother

[Photo from "Carnival Strippers" by Susan Meiselas]

Direct link to mp3.

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I'm off-topic with this episode, since Theme Time hasn't played anything sung by Troy or Bennie Hess. But, if Dylan hadn't mentioned Eddie Noack's "Psycho," I would have never discovered the God Less America compilation and would never have found this song. And as with most - if not all- songs, there's a great story behind it.

"Please Don't Go Topless, Mother" written by Ron Hellard. Performed by Troy Hess.

Mother dear, I know you must work
though the job you got is really not the answer
I'm so ashamed to be the only guy in my gang
whose mother is a topless Go-Go dancer

Oh, please don't go topless, Mother.
I hate to be quite so blunt.
The kids all laugh but I don't cry
You're not the only one who's putting up a front.

Oh, please don't go topless, Mother
But I just can not tell a lie
You're ruining your reputation
and I can give you two big reasons why.

Please don't go topless, Mother
Even though it buys me clothes to wear
I'd rather wear old rags, Mother
You've got a burden you shouldn't have to bear.

[talks] Oh, please don't go topless, Mother.
Little friends won't come to see me (but their
Daddy's do)
I'll shine shoes, I'll collect pop bottles
anything to help out.
Then we'll go off together and start over
with no shame for the people to talk about.

Oh, please don't go topless, Mother.
I hate to be quite so blunt.
The kids all laugh but I don't cry
You're not the only one who's putting up a front.
Troy Hess was the son of Bennie Hess, a larger-than-life character standing 6'6'' and weighing 230 lbs who could only have come from Texas. Hillbilly musician, promoter, singing cowboy, recording executive, Bennie was all that and more. Bennie's father had worked on the railroad with the legendary Jimmie Rodgers, and Rodgers widow later gave his' guitar to Bennie. Some stories say that it was the the first Martin Guitar ever made, but it was probably one of the many great 000-45 "Blue Yodel" models that Rodgers played throughout his career.

At the age of 14, Bennie left school and jumped a freight train, hitchhiking with just his guitar for company, entertaining in every town and state he stopped in to keep body and soul together. Settling in Lubbock Texas, Bennie formed The Rhythm Wranglers and started his first radio show on station KFYO - later claiming it was the first state-wide syndicated music program, playing on over 40 Texas stations. Bennie may have also opened the first Texan recording studio in the early `40s.

Out in California in 19 and 47, Bennie released a song called "Someday You'll Know," which was mostly notable for securing him several singing cowboy roles in B-movie westerns. Returning to Houston in the `50s, Bennie started a new record label called "Spade," now treasured among rockabilly fans for featuring such artists as Royce Porter, Jack Prince, and Ray Doggett. In the meantime, Bennie kept recording, releasing what would become his best-known song, "Wild Hog Hop."

["Wild Hog Hop" excerpt]

... as you can tell, Bennie wasn't shy about recording novelty numbers. His next release was "Walking That Last Mile/Life's Meditations," allegedly recorded in a prison cell to get a realistic sound, and later covered by Hank Snow.

In later recordings, Bennie would record under various nom de plumes, including "Big Ben Hess," "Rocky Night," "Sol the Yodelin' Voyager," and my personal favorite, "Little Boy Bluehorn." In the mid-`60s, Bennie would marry his wife Dorothy and have four children, Troy among them. Bennie retired from touring around this time and opened a hunting resort near Caldwell, Texas, where he entertained hunters under the clear Texas skies with his Jimmie Rodgers guitar.

Bennie spent most of the `70s and `80s promoting his record labels and his son Troy, billed as "America's Singing Souvenir," and with a career beginning at age 2, probably the world's youngest honky-tonk singer. Troy was already a veteran at age 7 when he recorded "Please Don't Go Topless, Mother."

Reportedly, Troy recorded his first record at the age of four. His live shows were popular at state and county fairs, with Bennie, ever the showman, acting as emcee, performing magic tricks, and backing Troy on guitar as well as performing duets with him.

If not for a BoingBoing posting and a disgruntled email from a Nashville songwriter, we might not ever have had the story behind "Topless." After BoingBoing posted a couple of its typical smarmy commentaries on the song, jokingly labeling it as "anti-porn art," songwriter Ron Hellard contacted them:
My name is Ron Hellard. I am a writer in Nashville for the last 35 years. One day a secretary at the publishing company I was signed to, asked me to write a song for her son, Troy. I did, as a favor to her, knowing that nothing would come of it. it was just a custom deal.

I sat down and wrote this extremely tongue in cheek crap in about five minutes. I slapped it on a cassette and gave it to her.

The best thing you can say about the record was that it was round.

Showland Records (owned by Troy's dad) probably pressed a thousand copies at most. I thought that would be the last I heard of this joke. But thirty years later it shows up on web sites and play lists here and across the great pond. I am amazed. I've read that the writer of this "song" must be a hick, and a lousy writer. That bothers me. as I said, it took ten minutes out of my life and it was a JOKE.

I am a pro writer with cuts by dozens of legit artists and have enjoyed success as a viable composer, but this thing sticks to me like glue. The original publisher was Acoustic Music, the catalog has been sold several times since.

I should clarify. One reviewer assumed that "Topless" was an attempt to write a serious country song, and slammed the writer for it. That's what got to me, it was meant to be, and most certainly is, a parody of country music.

Ron Hellard

... and there we are, and of course part of the reason why we didn't get "Topless" on the "Mothers" episode or Troy's "Christmas on the Moon" on the Christmas show is that "Theme Time" isn't Dr. Demento and doesn't play parodies or novelty numbers... although the line sometimes gets close.

But, "Topless" is still a song worth hearing - at least once - and one with a great story and great characters behind it.

Troy still performs in Texas with his current band, ZEBRA THREE, now focusing on a pop music format. Bennie passed away in 1984, but not without leaving several other legendary stories behind. There are two mysterious, possibly Jimmie Rodgers, recordings that Rodgers may or may not given to Bennie, or may have been recorded by Hess himself. And a music researcher relates a story of Hess sending him recordings of what may have been a 13-year-old Elvis being interviewed at a gas station - recordings which may or not have been legitimate and which or may not have been part of a larger collection suppressed by the Presley estate.

The world became a smaller, less colorful place when Bennie Hess passed away.

Sources: The links above will take you to many of my primary sources, including, if you dive deeply enough, an mp3 of the full version of "Topless." At The 365 Days Project you can find an mp3 of Troy's "Christmas on the Moon" and is worth a visit if you can't get enough of America's Singing Souvenir. I found the link to that site - as well as the link to several other useful sites - although someone idiotically disabled the capability to copy any text, including hyperlinks, forcing me to hand-enter every URL - from Jean's Music Blog.

Klaus Kettner and Tony Wilkinson's comprehensive bio on Bennie Hess at the Rockbilly Music Association was my primary - and very nearly only - source for information on Bennie Hess. I really wish I had the chance to meet him.


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 com. Our closing theme is performed by Lounge Affaire, courtesy of Christopher Murphy Studio.

We love your email and you can write us at

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.

Visit the Dreamtime Store

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tiny Tim - Tiptoe through the Tulips

Tiny Tim in one of his Laugh-In appearances....

Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean — Ruth Brown

from 1955 - Showtime at the Apollo (note: Replacement of original video)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Tears" at the Dreamtime Store

The latest shelf at the Dreamtime Store as been added, music from the "Tears" episode, including...

The Inflated Tear - Roland Kirk
96 Tears - ? and the Mysterians
And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine – Anita O’Day
Cry To Me – Solomon Burke
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams Sr.
Cry Me A River – Julie London
I Sat And Cried – Jimmy Nelson

Tears A Go-Go – Charlie Rich
Cry One More Time – J. Geils Band
Laughing But Crying – Roy Brown
The Bells – Billy Ward & His Dominoes
Cry Tough – Alton Ellis and The Flames
I’ll Drown In My Own Tears – Lula Reed
Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy – Mose Allison

Missing from the shelf is
" Big Boys Cry" by Bobby Charles and "No More Tear-Stained Makeup," by The Marvelettes, which one would think would be relatively easy to find, but Amazon apparently has no one carrying the "Return of the Marvelettes" CD where the song appears.

Julie London - Cry Me A River

via "MudCakeCreature" at the Expecting Rain Theme Time Forum. From Dylan's comments in the Tears episode, it sounds like he had a serious crush on Ms. London. The video below is probably a good explanation as to why...

Monday, February 05, 2007

? and the Mysterians - 96 Tears

and he was and they were.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sammy Davis, Jr. Show - The Andrew Sisters vs The Supremes

This is an updated version of a blog I first posted in 2007. Unfortunately, the video of James Brown on "Sammy and Company" is long gone. But to assuage the pain here's an excerpt from Sammy's first show, an NBC primetime variety hour that he couldn't appear on for the first few weeks of its short life because of his ABC contract. Nonetheless the show went on without its star, with guest hosts Johnny Carson, Sean Connery, Judy Garland and Richard Burton & Liz Taylor filling in till Sammy was free of his ABC contract, possibly the reason the show was quickly cancelled.

Anyway, here's Sammy with The Andrew Sisters and The Supremes, with the two groups singing each other's hits.  It almost works...

Back to "Sammy and Company,"  Sammy's infamous mid-70s variety/talk show which I would kill for to own a complete DVD set. "Sammy & Company" was one of those shows that drugs were invented for. This description from pretty much captures the frisson of each show...
"... It was a talk show where all they did was kiss each other's butts. Sammy would come out and do his number. The crowd would applaud. He would cry and thank the audience for being so wonderful. Then a guest would come out and Sammy would fawn all over him. The guest would reply in kind by fawning all over Sammy. Sammy would volley back a barrage of flattery. The guest would return the favor:

'I have to say this. I can't keep it to myself anymore. You are one of the greatest talents in the world.' (Applause).'

'Oh, no, no. Get out of here, Sammy. YOU are the greatest entertainer in the world and you know it!' (Wild Applause)

' Man, oh, man... you're great. But really, YOU'RE the best. Not me. I worship the ground you walk on. (Tears) I really do, man.I love you!' (A few claps, tears from the audience)

'I LOVE YOU, SAMMY! WE ALL LOVE YOU! Isn't that right, everybody?' (Sammy and guest hug (Wild, wild applause, whistling, tears)

'Man, would you like to do another number?'

'Only if you sing it with me Sammy!'(Applause)

(Sammy and guest take the stage and butcher a then current Top 40 hit) Then another guest would come out and it would start all over."
I'd object to the "butchering" of the music, which was usually the best thing about "Sammy & Company," but it was one weird, horrific show, filled with B-list actors and entertainers, with Sammy like an obsequious, black Uriah Heep, treating each one as the second coming of Christ. Notably,  the entire Rat Pack avoided the show over its two-year run. 

Often, both Sammy and his guests looked stoned out of their gourds, as this excerpt demonstrates...

The lady is Totie Fields, a comedian who was pretty much confined to the talk show circuit by the mid-70s because of serious health issues.

Mike Nesmith & Frank Zappa as Mike Nesmith & Frank Zappa

One of the more surreal moments from "The Monkees." Mike Nesmith interviews Frank Zappa as Mike Nesmith as Frank Zappa interviews Mike Nesmith as Frank Zappa, or something like that...