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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Animoto Video TTRH Video Promo

I've been experimenting with a pretty cool new tool, Animoto, which essentially allows an amateur to create professional-looking music videos using your own selected images and music (or you can use music provided by Animoto).

It's not perfect - you don't have control over the effects, for instance and you can't do any editing past removing/adding images after the video is produced - but you can also keep fooling around with different versions until you hit upon a video you like. :30 second videos are free to produce. Long-form ones run $3 each, or you can buy what Animoto calls a "All-Acess Pass" for unlimited long-form videos over a year. Animoto also provides the nice feature of automated uploads to YouTube.

So, here's an example Animoto video using my favorite, ah, theme. Most of the artwork is from the Positive Ape Index blog.

Bob Dylan & Tribune?

In his new role as "Chief Innovation Officer" at the Tribune Company, Lee Abrams is on a blitzkrieg tour of the Trib's various papers, and releasing a barrage of memos to staff which seem to be made public as quickly as they're issued.

Maybe not a surprise. If you read some of the comments on Abrams' blog, you'll find that Abrams was not greeted by Universal Acclaim by Trib. staffers. This excerpt from Abrams' latest memo, courtesy of L.A. Observed...

BOB DYLAN & Tribune? Had a great meeting with the Dylan folks. There is big potential to have Bob on our team. The guy DOES know how to write.
Got me thinking----Are we creating our own stars? we have them...and we should continue to recruit them. Online, on TV and In print. We live in a celebrity era...columnists CAN be stars IF we position them that way. When I was growing up, there was Kupcinet, Royko, Holtzman and others here in Chicago. I asked several people about this in the company and didn't really get a consistent answer on creating celebrities out of our writers. Quality celebrity. well--we are missing a massive opportunity if we don't identify the "stars" and go OTT (over-the-top) in positioning them that way. Is it the newspaper inferiority complex? Bull! Newspapers have muscle. Flex it. And WEB STARS! NOW is the time to create Star "personalities on the web....and cross promote them in print...and on TV!
Abrams, of course, is XM Radio ex-Chief Creative Officer, and the person responsible for bringing Dylan onboard with TTRH. So, there's probably a better-than-likely chance we'll eventually see a Dylan column running in the Trib family. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Songs From the Invisible Republic

If you're a fan of Theme Time Radio Hour, you're going to want to look into 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 (a full set list, courtesy of Heyday Mail Order, is below) 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); 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. For me that was Chuck Berry's Too Much Monkey Business, a piece of music that somehow I had never heard before, and a clear influence on Subterranean Homesick Blues.

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.

The link to the set from Amazon U.S. is above. At a currently pricey imported cost of $40.98, I'd first look into buying it from one of the various resellers, who are offering it from around the more reasonable $20+ and up.

And I'd like to put in a plug for the U.K. mail order house where I purchased Invisible Republic: Heyday Mail Order. Nick's service at Heyday is personalized, courteous, and prompt: I had my copy of the CDs a little over a week after ordering. And at £13.99 (around $28 bucks at the current dismal exchange rate when VAT is discounted and shipping to the U.S. figured in), Heyday's price is very reasonable. And if for no other reason, we should support small businesses. So if you're in the U.K. or Europe, go check out Nick, please.

Songs from the Invisible Republic: The Music That Influenced Bob Dylan.

Track list (courtesy of Heyday Mail Order)

CD 1 1. Odetta: Another Man Gone Done 2. Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins: Automobile Blues 3. Muddy Waters: Rollin’ Stone 4. Johnny & Jack: Uncle John’s Bongos 5. Slim Harpo: Shake Your Hips 6. Tommy Duncan: Daddy Loves Mommy-O 7. Chuck Berry: Too Much Monkey Business 8. Bill Munroe: Blue Moon Of Kentucky 9. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott: Diamond Joe 10. Bert Jansch: Nottamun Town 11. Karen Dalton: Ribbon Bow 12. Stanley Brothers: Man Of Constant Sorrow 13. Hank Williams: Alone And Forsaken 14. Frankie Laine: That Lucky Old Son 15. Curtis Mayfield : People Get Ready 16. B.B. King: The Thrill Is Gone 17. Graham Brothers: Hard Times (Come Again No More) 18. The Ink Spots: We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me) 19. Gene Austin: The Lonesome Road 20. Josh White: The House Of The Rising Sun 21. Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit 22. Louis Armstrong: St. James Infirmary

CD 2 1. Woody Guthrie: 1913 Massacre 2. Lonnie Johnson: Tomorrow Night 3. Tampa Red: It Hurts Me Too 4. Bing Crosby: Where The Blue Of The Midnight (Meets The Gold Of The Day) 5. Leadbelly: In The Pines 6. Curtis Jones: Highway 51 Blues 7. Mississippi John Hurt: Stack-O-Lee 8. Hank Williams With Audrey Williams: The Pale Horse And His Rider 9. Bukka White: Fixin’ To Die Blues 10. Muddy Waters: Rosalia 11. Blind Willie McTell: Delia 12. Muddy Waters: Rollin’ And Tumblin’, Pt.1 13. Reverend Gary Davis: Baby, Let Me Lay It On You 14. Richard ‘Rabbit’ Brown: James Alley Blues 15. Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins: Someday Baby 16. Charley Patton: High Water Everywhere, Pt. 2 17. Robert Johnson: Little Queen Of Spades 18. Billie Holiday: Having Myself a Time 19. Blind Arthur Blake: You Gonna Quit Me Baby Blues 20. Mississippi John Hurt: Louis Collins 21. Jack Kelly’s & His South Memphis Jug Band: Highway 61 Blues 22. The Mississippi Sheiks: Sitting On Top Of The World 23. Josh White: Barbara Allen

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poetry Readings CD Art

The aptly named stewART, well-known in the fan community for his CD art for Dylan concert and TTRH recordings, was nice enough to contact me - and then alliteratively patiently put up with my procrastination - and volunteer to create cover art for the Poetry Readings from Season 1 of Theme Time Radio Hour episode for those wanting to keep it on CD in a good-looking package.

And here it is: Front, Back, and gate-fold insert with track listing. You can click on the images to your left to reach, and then download, the full-size versions. Thank you, Stewart!

As I've mentioned, probably ad nauseum by now, that episode has been by far Dreamtime's most popular show to date; a somewhat chastening experience, as with the exception of the 14 Views from the Big City show, it also had the least original content to date.

I'm not foolish - or egotistical - enough not to recognize that the majority of people come to Dreamtime for Bob Dylan rather than Fred Bals content. But, as I said when I started Dreamtime way back in 2006, I'm doing the podcast and blog not to ride on Bob Dylan's popularity, but because I'm intrigued by the stories behind the music and artists Mr. D. features on TTRH.

When I think I do a Dreamtime show right, it's "a backstage pass to Studio B." as one of my listeners eloquently put it. When I sit here and moon about such things as Fair Use and Ethics, which I do more than you might imagine, I comfort myself with the thought - or delusion - that I've added value to the Theme Time Radio Hour experience.

So, while I much appreciate the response to the poetry show, I hope you understand that I treasure more the email and audience I have for shows such as my encounter with the ghost of James Dean; how Phil Silvers came to write "Nancy with the Laughing Face"; or on the legend of Stagger Lee.

And if Our Host, Eddie G., or someone else from the TTRH team stumble across Dreamtime at some point, I hope that they'll recognize shows such as those - in fact, most of the Dreamtime shows - better represent what I'm trying to do.

And to wind up, if you haven't already, remember to enter our Dreamtime Constant Listener contest, underway right now. Send us an email with your guess on the date that Theme Time Radio Hour returns with Season 3, and get the opportunity to win a copy of Million Dollar Bash, as well as a CD of Poetry Readings direct from the Dreamtime studio with these nifty stewART covers.

The contest ends with the official XM Radio announcement of Season 3, and full details can be found towards the end of the show notes for Episode 53 - Will There Be Any Yodeling in Heaven?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Episode 53 - Will There Be Any Yodeling In Heaven?

Direct link to mp3.

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[The Lonely Goatherd - Julie Andrews]

We're back again with another show from your other home for dreams, schemes, and themes. We've been gone for awhile, so we've got lots to talk about on today's show, including the end of Theme Time Radio Hour Season 2, when we can expect Season 3 to start, what Dreamtime will be up to during the Theme Time hiatus, and hey, bar the door, Katie! We're also going to tell you about the first Dreamtime Constant Listener contest, where one lucky listener - that might be you - will win a copy of Sid Griffin's book, Million Dollar Bash, as well as some assorted Dreamtime bling!

All that and more on Episode 53 of the Dreamtime podcast. And because we wouldn't be Dreamtime without some Theme Time-inspired music, we're also taking a stroll today through the sadly neglected world of yodels and yodeling, including Alpine yodels, blue yodels, Hawaiian yodels, blackface yodels, country-western yodels, and Drake's Creme-Filled Chocolate Cake Yodels. To get us started, a musical lesson on yodeling from Mr.Goebel Reeves, also known as the Texas Drifter.

[The Yodelin' Teacher - Goebel Reeves]

From 19 and 34, The Yodelin' Teacher. Goebel Reeves is probably best remembered for writing one of Woody Guthrie's signature tunes, Hobo's Lullaby, a song that became so associated with Woody that most people believe he composed it himself.

You might think you were listening to a dialogue in The Yodelin' Teacher, but Reeves is actually performing both voices. Most of Goebel Reeves career is a mystery, and there's no direct evidence that he ever performed in blackface. But he claimed to have barnstormed through the South with Jimmie Rodgers during the early `20s, and to have taught Rodgers to yodel. And The Yodelin' Teacher sure sounds like a blackface routine Reeves and Rodgers might have developed together as an act for the Medicine Show circuit.

When yodeling, blackface, and Jimmie Rodgers are mentioned, there's always another performer who needs to be acknowledged. You know who we're talking about, we did an entire Dreamtime show on him. Here's our ghost in blackface, Emmett Miller, performing the original Lovesick Blues.

[Lovesick Blues - Emmett Miller]

From 19 and 28, Lovesick Blues performed by Emmett Miller, using his trademark yodel. Twenty years later Hank Williams would record Lovesick Blues, and have his first #1 Country Single hit, ironically one of the few cover songs he ever recorded.

Let's take a break and discuss some Theme Time Radio Hour and Dreamtime news. As I would guess all of my listeners know by now, Theme Time Radio Hour closed its Season 2 with the "Cold" show broadcast on April 2nd. Mr. D. said in his announcement that they'd be back "real soon" with Season 3, the deejays on "Deep Tracks" and XMX - the two channels where Theme Time is being re-run - are saying the show will be back in "a couple of months," and the New York Daily News has made the unlikely claim that the show will be back September 19th (I say unlikely because September 19th is a Friday), but the bottom line is that XM Radio has yet to announce an official return date.

So, to keep our spirits up, the Dreamtime team has put together an awesome package of, ah, stuff, that we'll send to the winner of our first annual Dreamtime Constant Listener contest. Here's how it works...

  1. Send us an email - - and give us your pick on the date when Theme Time Radio Hour will return with Season 3. Please make sure to put "Dreamtime contest" in the Subject line.

  2. The contest ends when the official announcement of Theme Time Radio Hour Season 3 is made by XM Radio. Our winner will receive a copy of Sid Griffin's great book on the Basement Tapes recording sessions: Million Dollar Bash, personally inscribed to you by the Dreamtime team; and a CD of our most popular show to date, Poetry Readings with Your Host, Bob Dylan from Season 1 of TTRH.

  3. Standard disclaimer stuff: One entry per email address. Contest ends when the official announcement of Theme Time Radio Hour Season 3 is made by XM Radio. In case two or more entries has the right date, the winner will be randomly selected from the Dreamtime hat. If no one selects the exact date, our drawing will be randomly selected from all the entries. Employees of XM Radio, Big Red Tree, Gray Water Park Productions, or the Dreamtime team - especially the Top Cats - are not eligible, and their cat food will be taken away if they're caught.
So there you have it, friends, the first annual Dreamtime Constant Listener contest. All the info is on the blog, including links to our email. Enter early, 'cause there's no way of telling when XM will make the announcement that Theme Time Radio Hour is starting up again.

I think it's time for some more music, and here's one of my favorite yodeling teams, The Dezurik Sisters, better known on their radio show as as The Cackle Sisters. Yodeling wasn't just limited to yodeling when it picked up popularity among country-western artists in the `30s. The term came to stand for any vocal trick in a song, especially animal sounds which might include a barnyard full of dogs, cats, mules, and birds. Bird imitations were a Dezurik Sister speciality. We "listened to the birds and tried to sing with the birds," sister Carolyn once said. Here's the Dezurik Sisters with The Arizona Yodeler.

[The Arizona Yodeler - The Dezurik Sisters]

Here's one I first heard on the Lost Theme Time Radio iPod, although it's yet to be played on Theme Time Radio Hour. You know, there are some songs that just stop you dead in your tracks when you first hear them, and Cliff Carlisle's That Nasty Swing is definitely one of them. When you listen to this one, wait for the "place the needle in that hole," line, which had me going "What! What!" the first time I played it. Carlisle's referring to a phonograph needle, and Nasty Swing is probably one of the first songs to link up sex with that old devil phonograph, preceding Robert Johnson's Phonograph Blues by a good three years. From 19 and 33, Cliff Carlisle and That Nasty Swing...

[That Nasty Swing - Cliff Carlisle]

Cliff Carlisle with a song so nasty that he released it under the name "Bob Clifford." In fact, his label thought the song so nasty that they marketed it as a race record, directed to a black rather than white audience.

Next on the agenda is some technical Dreamtalk I'll try to make as quick and painless as possible. First: How to subscribe in iTunes. While the Dreamtime feed is still broken in the official iTunes store, you can still easily subscribe to the Dreamtime podcast by hustling over to the Dreamtime blog at, click on the "Got iTunes" button you'll find in the upper right cornerand zippo! you're subscribed in iTunes and will never miss an episode of Dreamtime.

Second in line: In Dreamtime's constant race to be the coolest kid on the block, we've created a special Dreamtime account on Twitter. One of the most popular sections of Dreamtime is the daily Theme Time Radio Hour News & Views column that you'll find over to your right, too, when you come visit the blog. If you're a Twitter aficionado and want to follow the TTRH News & Views column over there as it (almost) breaks, here's your opportunity. Go to Twitter and search for DylanTweets, all one word, and TTRH news will be flowing into your computer, cell phone, or whatever you're using to Twitter. If you want to follow me, btw, my personal Twitter account is FredatDreamtime, again all one word, but I have to warn you up front, I'm pretty boring.

[Photo: Roy Rogers kneeling on the left. Spade Cooley kneeling on the right]

I promised a little Hawaiian yodeling and the honors go to one of the greatest of singing cowboys, Roy Rogers. I'm about 10 years younger than Mr. D., and what Gene Autry meant to him, Roy Rogers meant to me, the ultimate in Cowboy Code Coolness. My mother totally bummed me out when I was about 8, telling me that Roy Rogers had been in jail for murdering his wife, apparently pre-Dale Evans. She didn't have any explanation about why Roy was romping around on Saturday morning television instead of being behind bars somewhere, but the story cast a shadow on Young Fred, equivalent to when a classmate told me that Superman had shot himself.

It wasn't until years later that I realized my mother - never a fount of accuracy - had confused Roy Rogers with Spade Cooley, who claimed during his trial that Roy Rogers had had an affair with his wife, who Cooley subsequently murdered in front of their 14-year-old daughter. Here's someone who didn't murder his wife, I'm happy to say, Leonard Franklin Slye, better known to us all as the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, riding on the 1940s Hawaiian craze with the song, Hawaiian Cowboy.

[Hawaiian Cowboy - Roy Rogers]

No one knows how Hawaiian music and yodeling got intertwined, although the best guess seems to be that the unique Hawaiian version of yodeling sprang from a blend of Hawaiian chants, Christian hymns promoted by missionaries, and yodeling from immigrant cowboys. As Mr. D. says, all these things have roots.

We're winding up today's Dreamtime with our title song, a question that all True Fans of yodeling will ask Saint Peter before stepping through those pearly gates. From Theme Time Radio Hour favorite, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, with vocals supplied by the McKinney Sisters, Will There Be Any Yodeling in Heaven?

[Will There Be Any Yodeling in Heaven? - Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys]

Will There Be Yodeling in Heaven? The answer, of course, is yes. Because if there's no yodeling in heaven, then what's a heaven for?

Before we close the show, we want to give a big "Thank you" to everyone who has started their Amazon shopping through the Dreamtime blog. There's not a lot of cost to doing Dreamtime, but it does run us a few shekels a month. And it's nice to know there's people out there who think enough of what we're doing to see that a little money comes our way via Amazon or Paypal. It's very much appreciated, and thanks again.

And finally, another big "Thank you" from the Dreamtime team to our audience for making our last episode - Poetry Readings from Season One of Theme Time Radio Hour - our most popular show ever.

If you liked that one and are new to Dreamtime, you might want to take a tour through our archives and download Episode 35 - Cooking and Drinking with Bob, which covers most of the recipes Our Host told us about during Season One - everything from barbecue sauce to Figi Pudding. Other shows that have been hits with our audience include The Lost Theme Time iPod; Working for the Yankee Dollar; and Back Where I Come From: The Roots of Theme Time Radio Hour.

But with 53 episodes the chances are that whatever you like about Bob Dylan and Theme Time Radio Hour, we've talked about it on Dreamtime, so go check out our back catalog. And if we haven't talked about something Theme Time Radio Hour-related that you'd like to hear on a future episode, let us know. Some of our best shows have come from listener suggestions.

With Theme Time Radio Hour on hiatus, Dreamtime is moving to a once-a-month schedule for the duration. We'll be back in May with a new show. Thanks as always for listening, and remember to enter our Dreamtime Constant Listener Contest. When will Season 3 of Theme Time Radio Hour start? only the Shadow - and Eddie G. - know, but maybe you can guess.


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.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Some Theme Time Stats

Excerpted from Duff McDonald's great Inside Dylan's Brain article cum list, which can be read via the preceding link or through clicking on the graphic. The dead tree version can be read in the May 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. If you bop over to the VF Daily site through the link, btw, and then click on the graphic there, you can view/ download a large, fairly high-rez version of the Milton Glaser-inspired spread.

Some stats from the article:

Artists He Plays

Nine times: George Jones

Eight times: Tom Waits, Dinah Washington

Seven times: Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Louis Armstrong, Van Morrison

Six times: Buddy Johnson, Elvis Costello, Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Louis Jordan, Muddy Waters, Porter Wagoner, The Rolling Stones

Five times: Anita O’Day, Buck Owens, Howlin’ Wolf, James Brown, The Stanley Brothers

Four times: Bessie Smith, Big Joe Turner, Billie Holiday, Charlie Poole, Chuck Berry, Ella Johnson, Fats Domino, Fats Waller, Irma Thomas, June Christy, Little Walter, Loretta Lynn, Los Lobos, Prince Buster, Randy Newman, Ray Charles, Slim Gaillard, Smiley Lewis, Sonny Boy Williamson II, The Beatles, The Carter Family, The Everly Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, Wynonie Harris

Three times: Bo Diddley, Bobbie Womack, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Elvis Presley, Ernest Tubb, Etta James, Hank Ballard, Hank Penny, Hank Snow, Harry Nilsson, Huey “Piano” Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Rodgers, Johnny Tyler, Joni Mitchell, Lefty Frizzell, Lou Reed, Memphis Slim, Merle Haggard, Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, Otis Redding, Ricky Nelson, Roy Brown, Roy Orbison, Ruth Brown, Ry Cooder, Sam Cooke, Sir Douglas Quintet, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Clash, The Drifters, The Ink Spots, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Staples Singers, Wanda Jackson, Warren Smith, Webb Pierce, Willie Nelson.

The Years

—50% the songs he has played were recorded before 1960.

—Only 9% of the songs he has played were recorded in the 1980s or more recently.

Useful Tips

How to Hang Dry Wall

What to Pack When You’re Traveling

How to Walk Like A Runway Model

How to Give Yourself Dreadlocks

Much, much more over at the VF Daily site. Be sure to read the comments at the end of the article where dedicated - dare we say, "anal" - TTRH fans are already offering additions and corrections.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Theme Time Radio Hour Season 3 To Begin in September?

Hot from The New York Daily News...

Speaking of the radio show, Dylan wrapped up season two last week, rather abruptly. Perhaps he had to pack to go claim his Pulitzer Prize.

XM says he'll be back Sept. 19 with season three - which, if it's like season two, will have 25 new episodes. Season one had 50.
The report should probably be taken with a grain or two of salt, as the New York Daily News isn't known as a fount of accuracy, and hence the "?" in my title. September 19, 2008 falls on a Friday, while TTRH has classically aired on Wednesdays, as we all know. Maybe they're switching days, maybe the XM spokesperson got it wrong and meant the 17th, or maybe the Daily News reporter is making it up, and grabbed the September 19th date because it was the date for the start of Season 2.

Although it wasn't entirely unexpected, I listened to TTRH on both XMX and Deep Tracks this morning with no little disappointment, harboring the forlorn hope for the last week that Our Host's conclusion at the "Cold" show was a Eddie G./Bob Dylan surrealistic April's Fool Day joke... after all it was made on April 2nd, and what's a day or so between friends? And Mr. D. had said they'd be back with Season 3 "Real Soon," and what could be more "Real Soon" than the following week?

But nope, XMX has announced an alphabetic "A" to "Y" countdown of TTRH shows from Seasons 1 and 2 for the next few months, and "Deep Tracks" is apparently re-running the shows from Season 2 in order (note that if they rerun all 25 original shows, the first show of Season 3 would not begin until Wednesday, October 1st).

As the Daily News reporter noted, there's a feeling in the TTRH fan community that Season 2 ended "rather abruptly," and there's been some speculation that it may be related to either one or both of the announcements concerning Lee Abrams departure from XM Radio and the DOJ approval of the Sirius buyout of XM.

As to the first, while Abrams was certainly instrumental in bringing Dylan to XM, there's no evidence that his leaving would cause Dylan or the TTRH team to suddenly put the show on hiatus. By Abrams own admission in several interviews, he had little involvement or contact with the TTRH team after the original deal was signed and the promotional materials approved. However, it may explain why no credits were aired at the close of the "Cold" episode. Someone may have felt the "For XM Radio, Lee Abrams" credit was inappropriate since he had left the company two days before the show aired, and removed the entire credits sequence rather than edit that specific part out. As illogical as that theory sounds, I've dealt with business manager thinking for over 30 years and can tell you that logic seldom has anything to do with how business decisions are made, especially when it comes to creative work.

It's also possible that the proposed Sirius/XM merger might have caused a truncated Season 2. While the FCC public announcement of its decision concerning the merger is overdue, it's possible that the parties involved have received some private indication that the FCC will be looking at the merger favorably. While the merger shouldn't have any impact on XM (or Sirius) current programming, the Sirius CEO has noted in an interview that the merged company plans to offer content currently only available on one station to listeners of both stations. In other words, The Howard Stern Show would appear on XM Radio as well as Sirius, Theme Time Radio Hour would also appear on Sirius, and so on. To do so requires that Sirius/XM renegotiate their contracts with independent content providers such as Gray Water Park Productions/Big Red Tree. That may be a fait accompli, or it may be in process, and may - the theory goes - have caused a shortened TTRH season until the revised contract details are fully worked out. Personally, I think it's unlikely but again,I know from experience that logic can fly out the window when lawyers get involved, all due apologies to Joyride's blood-suckin' partner.

Evidence pointing to the claim that the close of Season 2 was unplanned includes the four so-called "missing" shows of Season 2: "Fruit," "Something," "Nothing," and "Streets," announced in an XM Radio press release but never aired, although the other shows listed in the announcement were. It'll be interesting to see whether those shows appear during Season 3. While "Fruit" and "Streets" both sound like probable TTRH themes, I have my suspicions about the other two. I wouldn't be surprised if Eddie Gorodetsky, pressed by XM Radio for p.r. content, threw in "Something" and "Nothing" as a joking nod to Seinfeld.

Evidence against the "abrupt end" theory include the facts that Season 2 of TTRH had exactly half - 25 - of the original shows broadcast in Season 1, and that the season ended almost six months to the day after beginning, leading to the conclusion that with the success of Season 1 the Theme Time Radio Hour team negotiated a contract requiring less work, less original material, and fewer broadcasts than Season 1 - perhaps a schedule of six months on and six months off.

We'll have to wait for Season 3 to find out.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lord Buckley Lives! - The Church of the Living Swing

Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court…
The Great Lord Buckley Renaissance Continues!
Celebrate the Art & Life of
America’s Legendary Gospel Comedian,
Jazz Storyteller & Visionary Philosopher
With An Evening of His Hip Classics.
Steve Ben Israel, Baba, David Amram, Tom, Calagna,
Prof. Irwin & Richard Corey, Ron Clanton, and Oliver Trager
Invite You to a 21st Century Shamanistic Mardi Gras.
Monday April 7
7 PM
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery
foot of First Street, between Houston & Bleecker
across the street from the ghost CBGBs
F train to Second Ave, or 6 train to Bleecker

For More Info:
Lord Buckley on YouTube:
Tom Calagna From Last Year’s Bash:
David Amram From Last Year’s Bash:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Theme Time Radio Hour Season 2 Highlights

With Our Host announcing the close of Season 2 this Wednesday, April 2 with the "Cold" show, I thought I'd do a wrap-up of some of the notable moments of Theme Time Radio Hour Season 2:

September 5, 2007 - XM Radio announces the return of TTRH, beginning September 19. The press release says in part...

"Future shows will center on such motifs as "Young & Old," "California," "Dreams," "Fruit," "Something," "Nothing," "Streets," "Parties" and "Mail..."
The highlighted shows were not aired during Season 2.

September 19, 2007 - The first episode of Season 2 airs. The theme is "Hello."

October, 2007 - ISIS Magazine announces "The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour," an unauthorized 2-CD compilation based on the TTRH Season 1 playlist.

October 2007 - Dylan delivers a rant about "commercial affiliations" during the "Days of the Week" episode. In response to supposed email criticizing Sheryl Crowe, Dylan lists a variety of artists, including himself, "proud to have commercial affiliation." Later that month, Cadillac would release two television commercials featuring Dylan.

October 2007 - The Washington Post publishes a detailed article on TTRH.

October 2007 - Cadillac and XM Radio release a cross-promotional advertising campaign featuring Bob Dylan and Theme Time Radio Hour. Elements of the campaign include :30 and :60 second television commercials for the 2008 Cadillac Escalade hybrid, and a web page featuring the first half of the TTRH "Cadillac" episode. As could be expected, Dylan's participation is greeted with criticism from both the mainstream press and Web writers.

October 2007 - TTRH producer Eddie Gorodetsky releases a promotional TTRH poster he commissioned from artist/illustrator Jaime Hernandez. Each of the scenes illustrated in the poster refer to Ellen Barkin's "It's Night in the Big City," introductions from Season 1. The poster is featured on the pop-culture site, BoingBoing. Apparently intended as a gift for online fans, the poster is only available through free download at

October 2007 - TTRH airs its long-promised "Classic Rock" show. The theme? Rocks of the mineral sort.

October 2007 - Fan Simon Nielsen (aka "ukulele.elvis") creates a multimedia walkthrough of the TTRH poster, using Ellen Barkin's introductions as the voiceover. The walkthrough is also featured on BoingBoing, and Nielsen receives a congratulatory email from XM CCO, Lee Abrams.

October 2007 - To the disappointment of many fans, the "Halloween" episode for Season 2 is a re-run from Season 1.

November 2007 - AOL Radio removes XM Radio's "Deep Tracks" station from its free online playlist.

November, 2007 - The Season 2 "Thanksgiving" episode is a re-run from Season 1, "Leftovers."

December, 2007 - TTRH does a second "Countdown" show, with all-new material.

December, 2007 - The Season 2 "Christmas/New Year" show is a re-run from Season 1.

January 2008 - AOL Radio returns the XM Radio "Deep Tracks" station to its free playlist.

January 2008 - Ace Records announces an authorized TTRH compilation, "Theme Time Radio Hour with Your Host, Bob Dylan," to be released in March, 2008.

January 2008 - During the "Lock & Key" show, Dylan rants at a supposed telephone caller, Tim Ziegler, that Theme Time Radio Hour "isn't a classroom," after "Ziegler" complains that Dylan has gotten a record label wrong.

January 2008 - January marks the first full month during Season 2 where a new episode has aired each week.

February 2008 - The "President's Day" episode broadcast on February 13 is a two-hour show. While the first hour deals exclusively with that theme, the second hour more resembles the "Leftovers" or "Spring Cleaning" shows, with a compilation of songs touching various themes.

February 2008 - The Starbucks coffee house chain releases a Dylan "Artist's Choice" CD, featuring music chosen by Dylan. The credits note that the compilation was produced by "Tim Ziegler," the infamous caller from the "Lock & Key" show.

March 2008 - XM Radio announces that it is ending its relationship with AOL Radio and that no XM Radio channels will be available through AOL Radio after April 30, 2008.

March 2008 - The Simon and Schuster publishing house announces a hardcover book, The Theme Time Radio Hour Compendium, to be released October, 2008.

March 2008 - Lee Abrams, XM Radio Chief Creative Officer and the person who brought Dylan to the station, announces that he will be leaving XM and moving to a new job at the Tribune Company beginning April 1, 2008.

March 2008 - The U.S. Department of Justice announces that it has approved the buyout of XM Radio by Sirius.

April 2, 2008 - Bob Dylan closes the "Cold" show with the announcement that it is the last show of Season 2, noting that TTRH will be back "real soon" with Season 3. Curiously, no closing credits are read.


Some editorializing: All-in-all, it was a weird season, half the length of Season 1 and with three re-runs.

When TTRH began in 2006, no one really had a clue about what Dylan was going to do. Was he going to speak? Would he play his own music? Would it be a folkie history show? Contemporary music? Interviews with other artists?

No one knew. So each new show of Season 1 was a surprise. Plus you had unexpected continuing stuff like the "Night Time in the Big City" intro, def poetry readings, even the "Top Cat" closing theme.

I think once they ("they" being the TTRH team) got the formula down, they let things get a bit too predictable and started letting the show run on cruise control during Season 2. The production values of Season 2 seemed off, compared to Season 1. Some of the spoken segments sounded as if they were recorded in an empty steel drum or over a very bad VoiP connection. The research wasn't as crisp, or as interesting, even though the research team had expanded. Some things Dylan/Gorodetsky deliberately got wrong: the recounting of the Nixon/Khrushchev Kitchen debates, or the claim that every U.S. President with the the exception of Carter had been a Freemason. Jokes, obviously, but jokes that felt like in-jokes that fell flat. Partway through Season 2, the TTRH team seemed to give up on accurate research altogether... and more or less announced through "Tim Ziegler" that they didn't all that much care.

While the format for Season 2 wasn't that different from Season 1, the TTRH team took the emphasis off email and "def poetry" in favor of pseudo-telephone calls, which I personally think was a mistake. While several of those segments were quite funny, I think those calls were the most blatant examples of what seemed to me to be a different attitude in TTRH from the first season; that instead of being a retro radio show, which it was in Season 1, TTRH moved towards becoming more of a deliberate parody of a retro radio show.

While the emails were/are almost always a joke, they're usually a relatively subtle joke, and often allow Dylan to get a poke at some hobbyhorse, such as his "commercial affiliation" rant. And better, they fit into the illusion of "Well, Bob could really get emails, and he could read them on the show." But every time one of those phone calls played, it broke the willing suspension of disbelief and reminded us all that TRRH isn't real, and Dylan isn't sitting up in Studio B in the Abernathy broadcasting live, but instead is reading a script drafted by a comedy writer.

Having said all that, I still find much, much more to like in TTRH than dislike, and eagerly look forward to Season 3. Ultimately, Dylan has done what he set out to do, to introduce music and artists to listeners. I'll be along for the ride as long as he wants to continue.

With Our Host on hiatus, Dreamtime will be on semi-hiatus too, at least as far as the podcast goes. As with last year, we'll still release the intermittent audio show as the Spirit moves us, and more regularly be posting on the blog. So keep that Feed in your iTunes, and check here regularly for news.

Thanks to all of our listeners for a great Season 2, and Jailbait, Curly Lasagna, Shaggy Bear and I hope you'll also be along for the ride as long as TTRH and Dreamtime continue!


Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Dreamtime reader/listener Corey sent us an interesting email, noting...
"After reading the Matsuo Bashō poem in your post I realized that [Allen] Ginsberg referenced it in his folk music/poetry performance called "Old Pond". Instead of the line, "the sound of water", Ginsberg replaces it with "Kerplunk". This performance can be found over at Ubu web. Being that Dylan and Ginsberg were occasional collaborators, I thought that you might be interested. I love this piece!"
Which sent me on on a hunt for more information. I found that not only as Corey noted, that Ginsberg did do a version of the Bashō haiku, but also that hundreds of poets have tried their hand at variations of the "Frog Poem" too. In fact, there's a book - One Hundred Frogs - which I just ordered from Amazon, which looks at versions from serious haiku to limericks...
"There once was a curious frog / who sat by a pond on a log / And to see what resulted, / In the pond catapulted / With a water-noise heard around the bog."
Corey also pointed me to a great resource that I hadn't known existed, Ubuweb, which I commend to your attention if you're interested in poetry, music, or just general aural weirdness. Ginsberg's performance of Old Pond that Corey mentioned, recorded at the Nova Convention of 19 and 78, can be found here, as the first selection, and can be played online or downloaded. Thanks, Corey!