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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New TTRH Episode Coming Jan 7 2009 - "Work"

Our last post of 2008 is appropriately about the first new show of 2009, which will air on January 7th (11 am ET). Pierre Mancini noted at the close of the rebroadcast of the "Number One" episode today...

"..."make sure you clock in next week when the theme will be jobs and "Work."

See you in 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Delaney Bramlett: 1939-2008

In one of those weird coincidences, Delaney Bramlett, who I haven't thought of in 30-odd years until coming across his name while researching my article on Catch My Soul, passed away yesterday.

As I mentioned in my follow-up article, both the stage and movie versions of Catch My Soul were populated with regulars from Shindig! Bramlett and his then-wife Bonnie were both members of the series' house band, the Shindogs.  The two would later go on to form Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, a rock-soul fusion group with an ever-shifting lineup that enjoyed more popularity among fellow musicians than it did among the general public.

Among others, George Harrison was an admirer of Delaney, signing the two to Apple.  Unfortunately, Delaney and Bonnie were already under contract to the Elektra label, and nothing ever came of the Apple deal except bad blood between Delaney and Elektra.  However, on the strength of Harrison's recommendation, Eric Clapton booked DB&F as the opening act for his `69 Blind Faith tour. As it turned out, Clapton found that he enjoyed jamming more with Delaney than playing with Blind Faith and ended up as a regular member of DB&F during the following years.

Another Delaney fan, Jerry Wexler, once said that some of the best live music he ever heard was Delaney and Duane Allman jamming on the deck of his home in Long Island. Delaney also co-wrote Superstar with Leon Russell and Let it Rain with Clapton. According to his obituary, he performed, co-wrote, or recorded with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Dave Mason, Billy Preston, the Everly Brothers and Mac Davis at various times during his career.

As I noted in Catch My Soul: The Jerry Lee Lewis and Shakespeare Connection,  Delaney and Bonnie also had something of a side career appearing in weird movies of the early `70s, with and without friends. Their filmography included Vanishing Point, which was at one time my favorite movie but has not weathered the years well at all. While somehow missing out on Mad Dogs & Englishmen, they did appear in the truly awful Medicine Ball Caravan (also known as We Have Come For Your Children in the U.K.) and the much better Festival Express (filmed in the `70s, unreleased until 2003).  And, of course, both appeared in the movie version of Catch My Soul, later renamed to Santa Fe Satan, which should provide an inkling of the film's quality.

After a six-year hiatus, Delaney released his last album in 2008, A New Kind of Blues. While not as well-known as he should have been, Delaney Bramlett's influence extended far beyond mere fame.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

From Mr. D's remarks in the "11 Up" episode, it sounds as if Theme Time will be on holiday break for the next few weeks, and I've retired the TTRH widget normally found at the top of the blog for the duration. It'll be back when a new episode airs, as will we... if not sooner.

From snowy New Hampshire,
Dreamtime team
wishes the best of holidays for you and yours!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Bit More On "Catch My Soul"

It's always a pleasure getting feedback on a Dreamtime article, and we got a ton on our recent one about the Jerry Lee Lewis/Shakespeare connection.

One of the bloggers over at WFMU's great Beware of the Blog posted about Catch My Soul, inspired, as we were, by Mr. D's double-billing of Lewis during the Blood and War shows. As well as supplying a link to Dreamtime (thank you), writer Clinton McClung also came across a reference to an academic paper by a Dr. Robert Sawyer on the play.  While the article is not on-line, I've emailed the author and asked for a copy.  Stay tuned.

Most of the emails we received asked again about the possibility of a complete recording of Catch My Soul.  If such a recording exists, it doesn't appear to be in general circulation among collectors.  But the two cuts from the Catch My Soul rehearsal sessions at least provide the hope that there's a complete Catch My Soul stored away somewhere that may eventually see the light of day.

According to a Jerry Lee fan forum (registration required), Graham Knight, a friend of Lewis' who was at the L.A. run, has said that the Catch My Soul live show was piped into the performers' dressing rooms so that they could hear their cue to go on stage. Knight also reported that there were TV cameras at the rehearsals, as well as video from a fixed balcony camera fed to a screen in each dressing room, leading to the possibility that there is a full audio recording of Catch My Soul, perhaps even a video.

A member of the same forum also posted a scan of the original Catch My Soul playbill, the interior of which you can see above.  Contrary to what I wrote in my original article, the play only ran for a few weeks, from March 5th to April 13th 1968, rather than months.

And yet another late (I'm writing this paragraph on December 23) correction.  Rather than Peter Brock, who I listed in the original article, the role of Othello was actually played by William Marshall. While I would like to blame Nick Tosches for the mistake, it's my own, having misread the relevant paragraph from Tosches' book, Hellfire.

Interestingly, the playbill lists "The Blossoms," which I suspect are the ladies posing with Jerry Lee in the photo to your left, as part of the cast.  Sometimes called "the most successful unknown group of the '60s," The Blossoms made a career of singing backup for artists ranging from Paul Anka through Patty Duke to Elvis Presley.  At the time of Catch My Soul, the trio's lineup included Darlene Love, she of Phil Spector fame.  Also listed on the playbill is Gloria Jones, another one-time member of The Blossoms, who later struck out on a solo career, recording the original version of Tainted Love.   The Blossoms almost certainly were recruited by producer Jack Good thanks to their stint as regular cast members on Good's Shindig!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Songs He Didn't Write (But Has Played on TTRH)

I've been reading Derek Barker's massive and fascinating "The Songs He Didn't Write" (thanks to Johanna Moore over at the Expecting Rain TTRH forum for the recommendation!) over the past week, and to my mind it settles any question of how many of the TTRH music selections are coming directly from Dylan.

In two words, "a lot," I think. Below is a partial list of songs that Dylan has covered at various times in his career which have also been played on Theme Time.  This doesn't even include the artists - like Eddie Noack - who Dylan has covered at one time or another and whose music - if not the specific song, he's also played on the show.

Some of the selections are easy picks for their respective theme(s), and anybody from Eddie G. to Freddy B. might have made them. But here are also too many not-very-well-known and downright obscure songs which I think were selected by someone who had a personal interest in them, an interest and love strong enough to make him want to try his hand at covering them at one time or another.

While it's only a few days till Christmas, if you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for that Dylan-lover in the family, you couldn't do better than "The Songs He Didn't Write."


20-20 Vision
All I Have to Do is Dream
Be Careful of the Stones that You Throw
Blue Monday
Blue Moon of Kentucky
Blue Suede Shoes
Blue Yodel No. 1
Casey Jones (and Kassie Jones)
Cool Water
Corrina, Corrina
The Cuckoo
Diamond Joe
Dust My Broom
El Paso
Farewell to the Gold
Folsom Prison Blues
A Fool Such as I
Friend of the Devil
Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl
Stop Kickin' My Dog Around
Hello Stranger
I Still Miss Someone
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
In the Summertime
Kansas City
Long Black Veil
Moon River
My Blue-eyed Jane
Mystery Train
No Money Down
Old Man
One Irish Rover
Red Cadillac And a Black Mustache
San Francisco Bay Blues
Searching for a Soldier's Grave
Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair
Sing Me Back Home
Train of Love
Universal Soldier
Walk a Mile in My Shoes
We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)
White Dove
Wildwood Flower
You Are My Sunshine

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Introducing the BoBatone Carrera X350 Satellite Navigation System

From the amazing stewART, the artwork for the inside CD tray for the "Street Map" episode. 

If you haven't illegally downloaded the show yet, the quote above is Mr. D. ruminating on the possibilities of licensing his voice for GPS use.  If the poll I conducted over at Expecting Rain is an indication, there'd be a market for it too.

The Rise and Fall of the Female Elvis, Janis Martin

Dreamtime originally published this piece on Janis Martin back in September of 2007 as part of a longer article/podcast on women musicians/singers who never received the attention they deserved.

With Mr. D. playing Martin's My Boy Elvis during the recent "Famous People" show, it seems like the right time to revisit it. Check out the original podcast of And the Angels Sing (link above) to hear Martin performing Drugstore Rock-'n-Roll.

Janis Martin - The Rise & Fall of the Female Elvis

Billed as "the female Elvis," a title that Presley himself reportedly approved, Janis Martin had a short but memorable rockabilly career during the mid-'50s. Born in 1940 in Sutherlin, Virginia, Martin began playing guitar at age four, having to hold it upright like a bass fiddle because it was too large to get her hands around.

By age 11, she was a regular on the Old Dominion Barn Dance radio show, second only to the Grand Ol' Opry in popularity among country music listeners. Still performing on the Barn Dance into her teens, Martin began to tire of country and move towards a r&b sound, sometimes confounding an audience still expecting the old, slow ballads with songs like Ruth Brown's (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean.

At the age of 15, Martin cut her first record. Two announcers at WRVA - the Virginia radio station home of the Barn Dance - asked Martin to sing a song they had written, a rockabilly ditty called Will You, Willyum, on the show. The two songwriters taped the performance and sent the demo off to New York, which resulted in a recording gig for Martin with RCA. Will You, Willyum turned into Martin's biggest hit, selling three-quarters of a million copies, and charting into the Top Forty on the 1956 Pop Singles chart.

On the B side of Will You, Willyum was a song that Janis Martin herself had written, Drugstore Rock-n-'Roll.

"I wrote that song in about 10 minutes," Martin later said in an interview. "Everything in that song is actually the scene that was happening for us as teenagers."

With a hit single, appearances on American Bandstand, The Today and Tonight Shows and voted "Most Promising Female Artist of 1956," it looked like the 16-year-old had nowhere to go but up. But Martin had secretly married her boyfriend that same year, and became pregnant at age 17 after visiting her soldier husband during a USO tour. Unable to do live performances in her obvious delicate condition, Janis Martin recorded her last songs for RCA in 1958, in her eighth month of pregnancy, and RCA dropped her like a very pregnant hot potato as soon as the last notes faded away.

The female Elvis' career was over less than two years after it had started. But Martin's story would eventually have a happier ending. In the late `80s, now in her mid-40s, with two failed marriages behind her and on her own, Janis Martin formed a new band and struck out on a European tour, where she was greeted by enthusiastic neo-rockabilly audiences. She became a regular at rockabilly conventions, still belting out the old songs, saw her complete recordings compiled and re-released by the respected Bear Family label, and married for a third time to a man who had first seen her perform as a teen at the old Barn Dance show in Virginia. This time the marriage stuck, and they remained together until her death in 2007.

"She was a cute little old gal in a ponytail just belting out that music that nobody else was doing," her husband told the papers.


Janis Martin: My sources on the "female Elvis" include Janis' page at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame; her MySpace page maintained by her granddaughter; and her obituary from The Boston Globe.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Theme Time Radio Hour Christmas - Part the Deuce

It's that time of year again, boys and girls, where the Dreamtime team scour the interwebs for Theme Time Radio Hour and Our Host themed gifts, for you, our discerning audience. A few tongue-in-cheek selections and a few we wouldn't mind seeing under our own Christmas tree - Jailbait and Joyride take notice.

We present herewith our 2nd Annual Theme Time Radio Hour gift list (in no particular order)...

A Night at the Chelsea - Although Bob Dylan's room - #219 #211 - is currently undergoing hefty renovations, it's still Bob Dylan's room at the Chelsea, and you too can stay there after the work is complete. Visitors and residents of the Chelsea Hotel have included Eugene O’Neil, Thomas Wolfe and Arthur C. Clarke (who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey while in residence. The Chelsea Web site charmingly misspells the title as Oddyssey). Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jasper Johns, Patti Smith, Arthur Miller, and many, many others have stayed there too. And among other deaths occurring at the Chelsea, both Nancy Spungen - who may have been murdered by Sid Vicious - and Dylan Thomas died there.

If you go, stay up all night, listen to the New York TTRH episode and re-write Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Rates start at (around) the same figure as Mr. D's Room Number - $219.


A Photograph of the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York City, During the Residency of the Twyla Tharp/Bob Dylan musical, The Times They Are A-Changin’. - Whatever you think of Sean Curnyn's quirky site, there is always something on RightWing Bob that will intrigue - and, quite possibly, infuriate - you. You have to give Curnyn props for going his own way, a 'tude I think Mr. D. would approve of.

Dreamtime supports quirkiness, even though we seldom agree with the opinions expressed in RightWing Bob, and we do like the photograph Sean is offering a lot. Get a piece of history, Bob Dylan's name appearing in lights on the Great White Way, and do some good by tossing a couple of ducats the way of RightWing Bob, too, 'cause the Bob Dylan Web would be a drabber place without it. $25 U.S. $30 International. Signed by the photographer.


XM Radio Stock Certificate - Dreamtime does not give stock advice, and if you could see our portfolio you'd know why, too - and given that SIRIUS XM radio's stock is currently ranging between 10 and fifteen cents a share, you'd probably be better off playin' the ponies than investing in the merged company. On the other hand, you could buy well over 500 shares of SIRIUS XM for what a collectible stock certificate from the original XM Satellite Radio will run you.

The better long-term investment? You decide. XM Radio original stock certificate currently on sale from for $79.95.


iPod Phone/iPod Touch - A case can be made that satellite radio never has had a chance because of internet radio, which offers as many quirky listening choices as SIRIUS XM and is free to boot. If you can't beat `em, join `em, and joining `em may be the last best hope for SIRIUS XM.

Satellite radio's Obi-Wan Kenobi could be the promised - but still unseen - StarPlayr for iPhone application, which promises WiFi access to SIRIUS XM content available on the internet. What it will cost and exactly how it will work is still left to be seen, but watch this space.

Even if StarPlayr never sees the light of day, internet radio on an iPhone/iTouch will change your music listening life. It did mine. Currently available internet music apps in the iTunes store include Pandora,, and AOL Radio... all free. Also worthwhile checking out at the iTunes store is the $5.99 Tuner Internet Radio App from Nullriver Software, providing access to thousands of internet radio stations and podcasts, including yours truly.

And, of course, you could always use your iPhone/iTouch to listen to those "illegal downloads" of Theme Time Radio Hour episodes Our Host mentioned during the Street Map show. Not that we know anything about that.

Apple iPod Touch starting at $219.00 at Amazon.

High Times Hard Times, by Anita O'Day - O'Day's gritty and absorbing autobiography - including abortions, jail terms, and drug addiction - has been recommended not once, not twice, but three times by Our Host over various TTRH episodes. If that doesn't send you out to get this book, I don't know what will. From $12.24 at Amazon.

Catch My Soul paraphernalia - Have a Jerry Lee Lewis fan in the house who has been very, very good? Reward them with The Killer's Private Stash - a bootleg CD containing "Lust of the Blood," and "Let a Soldier Drink" (From the TTRH Blood and War shows) which you can pick up at a pricey $79.99 at Amazon.

A little too rich for the blood? You could buy the more economical playbill for the London production of Catch My Soul, regularly available on eBay for prices beginning at $12.99. Jerry Lee Lewis is replaced by Lance LeGault, who would go on to portray Iago in the movie version, but hey, it's still Catch My Soul the musical.

Or, you could consider one of the movie posters for Catch My Soul, which don't have anything in common with the musical except Jack Good and the title. But the posters aren't bad-looking, and definitely would fit into a late-hippie decor, if that's your style. I particularly like the one with the copy... "It's A Total Immersion." Yeah, baby. From $14.99-$44.99.

Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings - Kinda a gimme, I know, but still a worthwhile recommendation. Before there was a Theme Time Radio Hour there was the Mother's Best radio show, and this 3-CD set captures Williams at the top of his form, plus conversation, introductions and commercial affiliation at its finest. The one box set you want to find under your tree this Christmas. $29.99 at Amazon.

Horseradish - Because Mr. D. breaking up as he struggles to say horseradish during the Blood show may be the single funniest moment of TTRH. From various vendors at various prices.


Monday, November 24, 2008

War and Fruit...

... another in our ongoing efforts to come up with audience-attracting blog titles. No, no, actually War was last week's episode and Fruit is going to be the theme for the November 26th show according to several Dreamtime correspondents who took the time to write to us (and thank you).

If you were listening to the premiere airing of the War episode last Wednesday you found that the closing credits were missing. The stock Outro was added in later "encore" rebroadcasts, which is how we came to know that Fruit will be this week's show. At least one of our correspondents heard the title as "Fruit Bowl," but I suspect that it is simply Fruit, as that was the title of one of the "lost" episodes from Season 2, announced by XM Radio but never released.

And that leads to several interesting questions. Is Fruit an un-aired show from Season 2, or did the TTRH team never get around to recording it until this season? Will we eventually get to hear the other lost episodes - Streets; Something; and Nothing? I had always figured the last two a joke cooked up by Eddie Gorodetsky, pressed by XM Radio to give them something for their Season 2 press release, and a sideways nod to Seinfeld. But who knows, maybe there will be a TTRH show about nothing.

The fact that XM is airing Fruit and the missing - and then added - Outro, also leads to some speculation about TTRH production, although it's a very trivial thing of interest only to the completely demented like me.

Much of TTRH seems geared to specific times/dates - holidays and seasons and so on. But there are many shows that could be used at any time, and apparently which show that will be is sometimes a last-minute decision by XM. Go back and re-listen to various TTRH episodes, a pleasurable task in itself, and you'll hear several Outros where the name of the next show has obviously been edited in. The fact that the Theme Time home page has still not been fully updated - perhaps they laid off all the Web designers during the recent purge - and the reported turmoil in the XM Washington offices could lead you to believe that the task of adding the War outro fell through the cracks last week. I hope someone over over at XM is still keeping their eye on the ball with TTRH, but the evidence isn't pointing that way.

Outside of having one of the stronger TTRH playlists - although I could have lived without ever having to hear Buffy St. Marie's Melanie-like, wailing Universal Soldier again - the War episode was a unique TTRH in several respects...

* It was the first 90-minute show. There's been three 2-hour specials - 10 points to you if you can name them - and then there's the weird Time show, which ran into overtime, somewhere between 70-80 minutes as I remember, but never a full 90-minute show until War.

* It was the second show not to feature Ellen Barkin's voice (again, I'll leave finding the first as an exercise for the TTRH fan), and the first not to use the "Night in the Big City" intro.

As much as I love hearing Ellen Barkin, I think the intro could use a nice rest after almost 80 variations. Something like the audio collage used for War would be a welcome change - although obviously a lot more work. And what the hell would they do for a show like Fruit?

* Although it's now looking more like a glitch on XM's part, the missing Outro would have made War the second TTRH not to have closing credits (maybe I'll put together a quiz of TTRH production trivia), and I think the first to feature only Dylan's voice alone. There were no telephone calls or additional commentary from actors, comedians, or musicians. Again, kind of refreshing, although I was surprised that there wasn't a def poetry reading given the subject and Dylan's liking for poets such as Stephen Crane. And am I the only listener who misses regular def poetry? Bring it back, Bob! Not all of them have to be as long as The Raven.

* Regular Dreamtime correspondent Heddy points out another oddity that I missed: There was no "... sponsored by Cadillac" announcement before the show. Another XM glitch?

Enough rambling. The Dreamtime team is on holiday for the next couple of weeks, even the under-employed take the occasional vacation, so don't expect the next post or an update of the widget until early December. For those celebrating it, as does Jailbait, Curly, Bear, and Your Host, a very Happy Thanksgiving to our readers, and to all others, may you also have a very happy and productive next couple of weeks. Go hug your loved ones, if you haven't lately. They're the main thing to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Radio Radio - New 4-CD TTRH-based Compilation

Adding to the ever-growing list of U.K. labels offering some sort of TTRH compilation comes Radio Radio, a 4-CD box set from "Mischief Music" containing 112 songs, all from from Season 1 of TTRH, according to a quick glance through the track list.

"Add to this the iconic cover photo by Harry Goodwin and the eight page booklet by Dylan journalist Martin Whittle, you have a very special and collectable release," claims its Amazon blurb. "Collectable" I guess being in the eye and pocketbook of the beholder. Probably only of interest to the TTRH compleat collector. As with all other commercial TTRH compilations, Radio Radio does not contain any Dylan commentary or other Theme Time features.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reminder: "War" Episode Reportedly 90 Mins.

If you're into taping TTRH, you'll want to give the upcoming November 12 "War" episode an extra 30 minutes.  According to this Rolling Stone article, the show will be 90 minutes long, which would make  it the first hour-and-half Theme Time ever aired. 

As a piece of trivia, which is what Dreamtime is all about, there's been to date three TTRH 2-hour specials - "Christmas and New Year"; "Spring Cleaning"; and "President's Day" - and the unique "Time" show from Season 1, which ran into overtime at around 70 minutes.

If RS is correct, "War" should run from 11-12:30 pm this Wednesday, November 12.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SIRIUS XM Expands/Limits TTRH Listening Options In One Move

Edited 11/30/08 to reflect that "The Village" has been replaced by "Holiday Traditions" programming through December 25th.

The dust continues to settle in the reorganization of the SIRIUS XM channel lineup, but here's where the Theme Time Radio Hour schedule stands as of November 13, 2008.


On the SIRIUS side of the spectrum, TTRH will air on the SIRIUS version of "Deep Tracks," (SIRIUS Channel 16) Wednesdays at 11 am ET.

"Encore" presentations will air Mondays 8 pm ET, Thursdays 12 am ET, and Sundays 8 am ET, all on SIRIUS Channel 16.


The graphic on the "official" TTRH page is still erroneously listing the show as 10 am, and the page still contains the link to the defunct XMX channel's page.  The table under the graphic reflects the correct times and channels as noted below.

On the XM Radio side, TTRH will also air on Wednesdays at 11 am ET on the XM version of "Deep Tracks," XM Channel 40.

XM "encore" presentations on Deep Tracks Channel 40 are on Mondays at 8 PM ET, Thursdays 12 am ET, and Sundays 8 am ET, paralleling the SIRIUS Deep Tracks schedule.

UPDATED 11/30/08

XM is also now listing two additional weekly "encore" shows on "The Village."  However, regular programming has been discontinued on Channel 15 during most of December in lieu of holiday music.  The XM Radio site notes that "The Village" will return on December 26th.

Wednesdays, 12 pm (Noon) ET, XM Channel 15 "The Village"

Mondays at 12 am (Midnight) ET  - XM Channel 15, "The Village"

XMX Channel 2 "Retired" And Listener Response

A reply to an email concerning the fate of XMX Channel 2, which had aired the current TTRH show all day Wednesdays on XM Radio, stated that the channel had been "retired." Currently, there's nothing in the new XM or SIRIUS channel lineup to suggest there will be a replacement for XMX.

Dreamtime received more email on the SIRIUS XM channel changes than we have on any subject since the start of Season 3. We had a few messages from SIRIUS subscribers welcoming TTRH to the SIRIUS line-up, but some noted that the show did not air when they were typically listening in their cars. To a person, XM Radio listeners - whether internet or satellite radio subscribers - complained about the deletion of XMX from the new channel line-up. Several wrote that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for them to continue listening to TTRH at the current times. A few went to the extent of complaining that they would cancel their subscriptions.

Although I don't know the inner workings of SIRIUS XM radio, it seems a counterproductive business move not to have at least one channel whose programming consists of repeating popular shows from other channels. To get all business-speak, it seems like a win-win situation. SIRIUS XM gets more air time for some of its more popular shows, probably at no additional cost (I think it can be safely assumed that the TTRH contract probably allows unlimited rebroadcast). Cadillac gets their sponsorship acknowledged more often. The listening audience grows since people have more options to hear TTRH. Now that I reflect on it, I wonder what percentage of TTRH's claimed 2 million listeners were picking up the show on XMX?

Getting XMX Back On the Air

TiVo, cable DVRs, podcasts, it's an on-demand world. Thanks to their podcasts, I listen to more public radio now than I ever have because I can shift my listening to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, Fresh Air and Car Talk to the times I want. Thanks to TiVo, my nightly channel line-up consists of shows I want to watch, rather than what a network programmer thinks I should be watching at that particular time.

SIRIUS XM is missing an opportunity not offering some version of on-demand in their channel line-up. A few of the newer SIRIUS XM radio receivers let you schedule and record shows for later listening, but most don't. We need XMX - or something like XMX - back on the air for Theme Time Radio Hour, as well as for Tom Petty's Buried Treasure, and for other SIRIUS XM shows we would listen to if it was convenient to listen to them.

If you agree, send an email to and express your opinion.

Can we get XMX out of "retirement"? I don't know, but I'm betting that the only way it's going to happen is for us to tell XM we want it back, and we want the all-day TTRH back too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Theme Time Now on SIRIUS. Air Time on XM Moves to 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. XMX Gone?

via a SIRIUS XM Radio Press announcement:

Effective immediately [November 12, 2008], and for the first time, XM subscribers will hear SIRIUS' dynamic and exclusive music, news, talk, sports and comedy shows and channels, and SIRIUS subscribers will have access to XM's equally diverse and unique content.
According to the SIRIUS page here, TTRH will be airing on SIRIUS Channel 16 (Deep Tracks) Mondays 8 pm ET, Wednesdays 11 am ET, Thursdays 12 am ET, and Sundays 8 am ET.

As of 8 am Wednesday, November 12, the TTRH page on XM remains unchanged, and the Deep Tracks page shows the Wednesday air date to have moved ahead an hour to 11 am, paralleling the SIRIUS air time.

XMX Channel 2 - which aired TTRH all day on Wednesdays, appears to have been removed from the XM channel lineup.

It's unclear whether the SIRIUS Monday show at 8 PM will be a rerun from the previous week, although that's likely.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"The He-Man Martha Raye"

Here's Amos Milburn with the first of his boozy smash hits, Bad, Bad Whiskey, from 19 and 50, which he would follow with Thinking and Drinking, Let Me Go Home Whiskey, One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer and in 19 and 54 an answer song to the original, Good Good Whiskey, which would be his last hit.

Outside of the mystery of the "He-Man Martha Raye" moniker, which piqued Mr. D.'s interest in the "Beginnings, Middles, and Ends" episode, Milburn's on-line biographies tend to contradict each other. The Wikipedia article - which the Amos Milburn web page, maintained by his nephew repeats - claims, "there is no evidence that Milburn had a drinking problem," the article itself citing a 1997 book on blues singers as its source. However, Milburn's All Music Guide entry claims, "Alcoholism later brought the pianist down hard, giving these numbers a grimly ironic twist in retrospect..."

That undated All Music Guide article by Bill Dahl also may be the original source for the story about Milburn's nickname, and gives an interesting perspective on how information propagates on the Web. As Our Host alluded to, a dozen articles about Milburn on the Web use exactly the same phrase... "The self-taught 88s ace made a name for himself as the 'He-Man Martha Raye' around Houston before joining the Navy and seeing overseas battle action in World War II..." with no explanation about why Milburn was billed as the testosterone equivalent of Raye.

Milburn enlisted in the Navy in 19 and 42 at the tender age of 15 according to various biographies. By 19 and 42, Raye was established as a wisecracking singer/comedienne and had earned her own nickname, "the Big Mouth," as her mouth seemed disportionately large to the rest of her face, especially when seen on screen. Raye would capitalize on the disadvantage, making her mouth up to appear even larger, and eventually becoming the spokesperson for Polident denture cleanser in the 1970s and 1980s and appearing in innumerable commercials. While Milburn's mouth doesn't appear unusually large, maybe he did some sort of loudmouth Raye schtick as a kid. I've emailed Milburn's nephew about the question to see if I can satisfy both my own and Our Host's curiousity.

To close out, here's an uncensored Raye doing a Red Skelton show rehearsal, which gives you a pretty good sense of what her live act was like...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

You Hit Me Baby Like An Atomic Bomb - Fay Simmons

As I wrote back in 2007,  it's hard to believe that someone with that voice - that voice  - could release almost 30 singles and then disappear off the face of the planet with little notice being taken of her career.

You look at what is known of Fay Simmons' history and you see her coming close - so close - to making it big.  A gig at the Apollo. Promoted by at least two heavyweight deejays. Over two dozen singles. A voice that could at times match Dinah Washington's.  But maybe prophetically, one of the best recordings Fay Simmons did, You Hit Me Baby Like an Atomic Bomb,  recorded at the start of her career one hot August night in 1954, was buried in the Reco-Art Studio vaults for 40 years until finally released on an obscure British label. There's not much other other evidence of Fay Simmons' career now except a pile of brightly-colored 45s from labels with names like Jordan, Rainbow, VTone, Ruthie, and the aptly named Gone. All gone now, as gone as the singer who on stage was Fay Simmons.

She was born Janet Fay Simmons on February 25, 1932 in Philadelphia. Married early, somewhere around age 15. Married to a professional musician, Robert Geter, who would back Fay on several of her singles. That would be around 1947, and not much else is known about the Geters' life for the next seven-odd years. They had three children: two girls and a boy, the last nicknamed "Toughie," or possibly "Tuffy," and lived in the 1200 block of Kater Street in South Philadelphia up till the early `60s.

In the mid-50s, Fay would go into the studio at age 22, a mother already for a half-dozen years. Four 78s in `54.  Two more in `55.  Nothing in 1956.  Then two recordings each year from 1957 through `59.

1960 through  `62 were the push years for Simmons. She released twenty-seven 45s over those three years.  In March of 1960 she appeared at the Apollo in Harlem in a production hosted by  Dr. Jive, New York deejay Tommy Small. Fay was also being promoted by another deejay, one of the big wheels of the Philadelphia scene, Kae “The Jet Pilot” Williams of station WHAT. Williams had a side gig managing local talent, and he took Fay under his wing, writing at least one song for her, Ella Williams.

But those three years were the peak for Fay Simmons' career. She'd record a few more songs that would be released up till 1964, and then, at age 32, closed the door on a 10-year professional career, singing only for family and friends after that time.  At some point, Fay remarried and lived quietly in the Philadelphia area for the rest of her life, passing away as as Janet Fay Flowers on May 17, 2000.

And I'd hear her voice first six years later, singing You Hit Me Baby Like an Atomic Bomb, on a compilation reportedly copied from Bob Dylan's iPod.  "Who is that?" I thought, and would start pursuing the mystery that was Fay Simmons.  A Colorado disc jockey helped fill in some of the pieces.  Eventually her family and friends added a little more information.  It''s still not much.  A few paragraphs about a 10-year singing career, a slice from a 68-year life.  But it's more than I knew back in 2006, when that 22-year-old's sultry voice floated out of my speakers, growling, you hit me baby, like 'n 'tomic bomb.

Rest in peace, Fay.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Dreamtime Repeat - Episode 44 - The 1st 2nd Annual Dreamtime Halloween Show

We did have a new Halloween show scheduled, o gentle readers/listeners, but other things got in the way, as they have for the past month or so.

But, what's good enough for Mr. D. and Eddie G. is good enough for Dreamtime too, and so we present our first ever re-run.  From October, 2007,  Episode 44 - The 1st 2nd Annual Dreamtime Halloween Show.

We're hoping things will steady down in the next few weeks and we can get the Dreamtime podcast back on a regular schedule. But in the meantime, enjoy this ah, classic, encore presentation, and have a spooky and safe Halloween. ~ fhb 

Direct link to mp3.

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Welcome to your other home for Halloween schemes, ghostly themes, and Kandy-Korn dreams. It's Dreamtime's 1st 2nd Annual Halloween Show, the one time of the year where we get to let down our hair and pretend to be our favorite monster, superhero, actor, or deejay...

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

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

[Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo]

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

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

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

[Zombie Jamboree - Harry Belafonte]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[The Skeleton in the Closet - Louis Armstrong]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[I Put a Spell on You - Nina Simone]

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

[Witchcraft - Frank Sinatra]

[Trivia: Halloween around the World]

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

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

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

[Annabel Lee - Joan Baez]

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

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

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

[Haunted House - Johnny Fuller]

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

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

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

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

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

[Dolores - Eddie Noack]

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

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

[The Haunted House - The New Mayfair Orchestra]

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

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

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

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

[The Headless Horseman - Kay Starr]

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

[Spooky - Classics IV]

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


Tonight's Playlist

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

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


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

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

Remember that the Dreamtime team loves to get email. 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.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Preview of "War" Episode at Rolling Stone

The online version of Brian Braiker's Rolling Stone article on the return of Theme Time Radio Hour now includes a streaming 30-minute clip of the reportedly 90-minute War episode, targeted for official airing on November 19th.  The link is:

I haven't listened to the excerpt.  I'd rather wait for the official release and listen to the show complete. And given that the Money episodes coincided with a worldwide financial meltdown, I'm a little nervous about the War show already.

The page also contains about 20 minutes of selections from the first  Money episode.

"Maybe I Didn't Write You, But I Found You." ~ Hoagy Carmichael

“One of the most famous songs Hoagy ever wrote was Stardust, and like many songwriters, he wasn’t sure where it really came from. This is what he had to say, the first time he heard a recording of Stardust: ‘And then it happened, that queer sensation that this melody was bigger than me. Maybe I hadn’t written it at all. The recollection of how, when, and where it all happened became vague as the lingering strains hung in the rafters of the studio. I wanted to shout back at it, maybe I didn’t write you, but I found you’…

I know just what he meant.” ~ Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour, Young & Old

Saturday, October 25, 2008

She's My Witch - Kip Tyler & the Flips

One of our favorite discoveries, Kip Tyler's She's My Witch was featured on Dreamtime's 2007 Halloween special, generating more emails than all the other songs put together.

Chacun à son goût is the Dreamtime motto.

I've read claims that She's My Witch is a rewrite of Johnny Horton's Lover's Rock, and while there are certainly similarities between the two songs, I'm not so sure there's a direct connection, but you can decide for yourself. Below is Johnny Horton's Lover's Rock for your edification and enjoyment.

Kip and the Flips were the undisputed champs of the El Monte Legion Stadium Saturday night dances, which in the `50s meant that they were the undisputed champs of the Los Angeles rock scene. Tyler started off as the lead singer of "The Sleepwalkers," who not only had the reputation of being their high school's best rock n' roll band, but also of being the school's toughest band. The Sleepwalkers eventually merged with an equally tough band from Fairfax High School, forming an early version of the Flips.

In 1957, Kip found himself doing a strange impersonation, posing as a non-existent rock-n'-roll bandleader named Jimmy Daley.  Daley had been the lead character in a 19 and 56 exploitation movie titled Rock, Pretty Baby.  But the actor playing Daley, John Saxon, couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, so the producers hired various singers to do the songs in the movie while Saxon lip-synched.

Rock, Pretty Baby became a minor hit with the bubblegum and pony tail set, and the money behind the movie wanted to cash in on "Jimmy Daley's" rise to fame.  Of course, the problem was that there wasn't any Jimmy Daley, at least one who could sing.

What to do? Decca Records started hunting around for a good - but not good enough to be well-known - rock-n'-roller who could be Jimmy Daley. And that rock-n'-roller would turn out to be Kip Tyler.  Kip released two singles under the name "Jimmy Daley and The Ding-A-Lings" for Decca, although "Kip Tyler" was credited for the vocals in the fine print.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Strangeloves/Not The Strangeloves

Mr.D. played the Strangeloves' Night Time in the recent Night episode, giving a nod to the band's strange history in the process. As Our Host mentioned, the band members claimed to be Australian sheepherders, plucked from the Outback and trying to make their way as strangers in a strange land (I got a million of `em folks) after inventing a new method of breeding. Sheep, that is. Take your mind out of the gutter, please.

In reality, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer were U.S. songwriters/producers, who hit it big with the Angels' 19 and 63 mega-hit, My Boyfriend's Back. The arrival of the Beatles on U.S. shores in `64 got the three to thinking - why couldn't they create a pop group from Someplace Else too? So, they adopted phony accents, put on some weird attire - weird for 19 and 64, at least - appropriated the title from a Stanley Kubrick movie as their name, held a couple of press conferences... and the Strangeloves were born.

No one ever really bought into their strange back-story, but the Strangeloves' music was good enough that it didn't really matter.

I Want Candy went to #11 on the charts in 19 and 65. The younger generation probably better knows the 19 and 82 cover of I Want Candy cut by the Malcolm McLaren manufactured band, Bow Wow Wow, a New Wave group best-remembered these days for its 15-year-old girl singer's habit of appearing buck-nekkid on album covers.

But Dreamtime digresses.

I Want Candy turned into something of a two-edged sword for the Strangeloves. On the one hand, they had their first hit single. On the other hand, they now needed to tour to capitalize on their hit, and like Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, the Strangeloves existed only in the studio as session musicians. Feldman, Goldstein, and Gotteher first tried their hands as the touring Strangeloves, but that didn't work out, since they sounded nothing like the studio Strangeloves. So, they went back to New York and recruited four of the musicians who had worked the Strangelove sessions, and that's who we see here, the second of what would be three different Strangeloves touring groups, which still don't sound much like the studio Strangeloves.

One last story about the Strangeloves. When Feldman, Goldstein, and Gotteher were out touring in their first incarnation of the Strangeloves, they met up with a young singer named Rick Zehringer. The three producers took a shine to the 16-year-old Zehringer, and recruited him and his group, who they renamed The McCoys, to lay down vocals and some additional guitar work on a track the Strangeloves had recorded but not yet released. That song was Hang on Sloopy, and it would be a hit for the McCoys and the man who would later become known as Rick Derringer.

Life is strange.

Not satisfied with just one name, the trio also recorded as the Sheep, possibly in an attempt to keep the Aussie connection going. Goldstein and Feldman had a multitude of recording aliases, releasing songs as the Kittens, as Rome And Paris, as Bobby And the Beaus, and as Ezra And The Iveys. You could literally fill a shelf with the output of Messers. FG&G in their various guises and never know you were listening to the same band.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Too Hot To Hoot - "Weird Al" Yankovic

One of the nice things about doing Dreamtime is the interaction between me and my reader/listeners. An anonymous commenter recently noted:
I will admit that, after listening to several bootlegged TTRHs, I was considering XM... but it wasn't until they did an Artist Confidential with "Weird Al" Yankovic that I actually bought a radio and subscribed. So now I have TTRH too. And hey, Dylan has mentioned Weird Al (imagining the differences between Al's high school valedictorian speech and that of a future Chief Justice) and Al has done a fine Dylanesque homage, entirely in palindromes, called "Bob." So they're not entirely unconnected. :)
Now, I have to admit that I'm not all that much of a fan of "Weird Al." Nothing against the man. I just think most music spoofs fall into the "funny-once" category, to borrow a line from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. So, I had missed Yankovic's very funny take on Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues video, done in rhyming palindromes, from back in 2006. Thank you, Anon. for pointing it out and providing me with an entertaining couple of minutes this morning. I needed it.

Anon. also notes that Mr. D. name-checked Al, I believe back in the School episode, comparing the Weird One to William Rehnquist: “I wonder if William Rehnquist gave the same type of [valedictorian] speech as Weird Al. Somehow I doubt it.”

Me too. According to a recent Wired article on Weird Al his valedictory speech was, "... a rant about how the polar ice caps are going to melt and drown us all. It was this crazed Howard Beale kind of thing. People were freaked out."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Your Presence is Obnoxious to Me

Not directed to you, o gentle Dreamtime reader, but a line from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, as you probably already know, as is the penultimate line of the song's last stanza: "I've had too much of your company."

Scott Warmuth, an Albuquerque-based deejay, who first broke the news of Dylan's borrowing various lines from the poet laureate of the Confederacy, Henry Timrod, puts forth another interesting discovery . Those two lines from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum might have originated with a minstrel show skit written in 1856, Box and Cox: In One Act.

Box and Cox, sometimes Cox and Box, were the well-known protagonists of several Victorian-era farces, eventually becoming a popular comic opera, which is still occasionally performed today.  All the Box and Cox comedies center around the same theme: Messrs. B & C are renting the same room, unbeknownst to the other, as Box works during the day and Cox at night. Eventually they discover each other's presence... and hilarity ensues.

In 1856 Edwin Byron Christy adapted Box and Cox to a blackface routine, eventually publishing it under the lengthy title, Box and Cox in One Act, Africanized Expressly for George Christy. The key word of course being "africanized." An example of the "africanization" is the line that Dylan may have adapted for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. "...So if you's no dejections, I'll just remark dat your presence is obnoxious to me."

Sharing the same famous last name and father, Edwin and George were half-brothers and part of the Christy's Minstrels blackface troupe. George would eventually take over the show when E.P. Christy retired.

As I remarked back in Episode 40: A Ghost in Blackface, Bob Dylan's thoughts on minstrel shows and blackface are unknown. But given the fact that he named "Love and Theft" after a book about the history of minstrel shows, it's pretty obvious that he does have some thoughts on the subject. And then there's Masked and Anonymous. In the movie, Dylan - as the character Jack Fate - receives a visitation from his predecessor, a blackface minstrel.

"Do you know me?" he asks.

"You look familiar," Dylan replies.

Carol Was Right

Bob: This is Theme Time Radio Hour. We're talking about money. Let's go to the phones. Hello, caller, you're on the air.
Carol: Hi Bob!
Bob: Hello to you. Where are you calling from?
Carol: Carbondale, Illinois.
Bob: And what's your name?
Carol: Carol Clark.
Bob: Well, Carol, what can I do for ya?
Carol: Well, I heard last week's "Money" show, and I really enjoyed it.
Bob: Hey, thanks a lot! We work hard on `em.
Carol: It shows! I heard you were doing another one this week, and I was wondering whether I could make a request.
Bob: Sure, what do you wanna hear?
Carol: Can you play the Beatles' song, "Money Can Buy Me Love"?
Bob: Carol, I think it's "Money Can't Buy Me Love".
Carol: No, no. It's "Can Buy Me Love." I used to have the record, I know.
Bob: Look, Carol. It's "Money. Can't. Buy. Me. Love."
Carol: I know you're Mister `60s, but I have the record. It's "Can Buy Me Love."
Bob: Alright, Carol, we'll look for it. Keep listening.
Carol: Thanks, Bob!
Bob: (sighs). You can't help some people. Well, Carol, if you're still listening, money can not buy you happiness, but it can give you more places to look. We're still looking for that song, but in the meantime...

... Later in the show...

Bob: The thing that Carol said is still gnawing at me. I mean, I've heard lots of songs that say money can't buy ya happiness, and I've never heard one that says that it can. Well, here's another song, this one from 19 and 44, guy named Tiny Grimes, who actually once told me that "money isn't the key to happiness, but if you have enough, you can have a key made..."

... And still later in the show...

Bob: We spent so much time talking about money, I want to leave you with the words of someone who has an opposing opinion. He's a smart guy. He was smart about bees, relativity, and he's smart about this. I'm talking about Albert Einstein, and he said: "I'm absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can keep humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker. The example of great pure, individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and irresistibly invites abuse. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus or Gandhi armed with the moneybags of Carnegie?"

Are ya listening, Carol?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Need Theme Time Radio Hour In Your Life

Dreamtime pal Doug R. writes an impassioned sermon himself on the benefits of TTRH in your life, which we wholly subscribe to. I'm not quite certain of the mechanics of Facebook - dunno if you need to be a member in order to read Doug's full post - but I'm replicating it here with Doug's permission:

Season Three of Theme Time Radio Hour begins today. Featuring your host, Bob Dylan.

You need Theme Time Radio Hour in your life.

I'm serious. I am an evangelist in the church of Theme Time Radio Hour. In the last couple of years, Bob has thoroughly revitalized my love of music.

Every week, Bob Dylan culls his personal record collection, chooses a theme and spins an hour's worth of records devoted to that theme. Songs about shoes. Songs about trains. Songs about guys named Joe. The genres are all over the map. Blues, country, soul, showtunes, reggae... I come away from every show with a new favorite song.

And Bob is a brilliant DJ. He shares recipes and cleaning tips, tells jokes, and occasionally delivers impassioned sermons on how to live right.

Have I mentioned that you need Theme Time Radio Hour as a regular part of your life?

Bob and his people seem very loose about the show's being bootlegged. Which is good, because I can't afford satellite radio.

This guy, Patrick Crosley - - hosts a blog where he posts a lot of music, and usually posts a copy of the newest Theme Time within a day or two of air date.

I'm also going to put in a plug for the Dreamtime podcast.

Fred Bals does a show wherein he will take an artist or phenomenon offhandedly mentioned by Bob, and weave a whole show around it. Fred's an engaging writer and storyteller, in addition to having an encyclopedic pop culture knowledge that I envy deeply. I've picked up almost as many favorite songs from Fred as I have from Bob. The difference being, Fred's my Facebook friend. Hi, Fred.

The meaningful part of the baseball season may be over. The days may be getting shorter. But I don't care. There's less space on my iPod, and more songs in my heart. It's a new season of Theme Time Radio Hour. And I'm trying to convert you. Give it a listen.
And "Hi, Doug," and thanks for the plug!

I just want to add that I fully sympathize with not being able to afford things like satellite radio. Dreamtime has a lot of student listeners who are on a tight budget too, and without torrents and sites like Croz's they'd be out of luck.

As I noted in my F.A.Q., the liklihood of ever seeing a commercial release of The Compleat Theme Time Radio Hour recedes with each new show, and it certainly deserves some permanency, albeit gray market permanency. Having said that, I do want to add that if you're in a position to support Sirius XM Radio by subscribing, whether to the satellite or internet feed, you should, even if you get the show from other sources or not. According to reports, shares in the merged company have dropped over 65 percent since July, and the current market environment is very probably going to devastate financially weak companies. While TTRH isn't likely to disappear, its home base very well could. And that would be bad news for us all.

Farewell to the Gold

The TTRH research staff seems to have plucked Mr. D.'s commentary on Paul Metsers' Farewell to the Gold, sung in Money: Part 1 by Nic Jones, direct from the New Zealand Folk song site. The page is well worth the read, with the somewhat prickly author - he chastises both Dylan and Nic Jones himself for "mangling the song's lyrics" - supplying a wealth of information. The site quotes a letter from Metsers' which reads in full:

"I'm afraid there is no mystery source for the song, no distant broadside or doggerel from which it gained its inspiration. It's all out of my head as it happens.

Even back then, when I wrote it in 1969, I think it was, I had been writing songs for at least 5 years. It's what we do, we songwriters - put ourselves into the subject and imagine we're in the story

I was teaching the Form 2 Music Class at Hutt Intermediate school at the time and had taken them all on a trip down the West Coast of the South Island. We'd been over Arthurs Pass and Cardrona and down to the Shotover River and visited some old gold workings down that way. The kids had panned some gold and the whole thing had fired everyone's imagination.

I went home to my folk's place in Gisborne for the Xmas holidays with this really strong melodic idea and the basis of a chorus buzzing round in my head.

Then, I don't know where from, I got hold of a pictorial history of gold mining, a small but fascinating book called "The Goldfields of Central Otago", I think. When I read of the tragic flash flood of July in 1863, I knew I had the basis of a story.

So I invented a young man who teams up with an equally imaginary experienced old prospector whom I called Jimmy Williams with dreams of riches to come. Jimmy is lost to the sudden waters while the younster survives to tell the tale. That's it!

As far as cover versions go, Nic Jones' version on his "Penguin Eggs" album is by far the best known and the only one to have earned me anything. I've never received any royalties from Mary Black.

Well, I hope that's answered all your queries - I'd be interested in your reaction to it all. All the best, Paul Metsers."
The book Metsers (and Mr. D.) refer to may be, Relics of the goldfields: Central Otago by a Tom Field, which fits Metsers description of a "small, pictorial history," but the 1976 publication date is almost a decade too late if Metser wrote the song in 1969. One of life's little mysteries.

Interestingly, Dylan once covered Farewell to the Gold in a 1992 live performance, the audio of which you can find on YouTube.  And, in the obsessive world of Dylanology, there is another Nic Jones/Bob Dylan connection, with a small group of critics claiming that Dylan "stole" Jones' arrangement of the traditional Canadee-i-o for his own version on Good As I Been To You.