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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Of Theme Time Radio Hour Volume 2

The folks who brought you The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour are back again with Volume 2.

Like the first edition, the 2-CD set includes 52 cuts (track listing below), relying heavily on out-of-copyright (at least in Europe) selections. Again, as with the first edition, no Dylanesque commentary or TTRH material, simply tracks that have been played on the show.

Available now through Amazon U.K. at £9.98 through: Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour: Volume 2


on July 8, 2008 from Amazon U.S. currently at $15.99 through: Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour: Volume 2

Track listing:

Disc 1

1. Jamaica Hurricane Lord Beginner

2. Just Walking In The Rain The Prisonaires

3. Mother Fuyer Dirty Red

4. One Mint Julep The Clovers

5. Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball Buddy Johnson

6. Forty Cups Of Coffee Ella Mae Morse

7. Folsom Prison Blues Johnny Cash

8. My Son Calls Another Man Daddy Hank Williams

9. Fannie Brown Got Married Roy Brown

10. Divorce Me C.O.D. Merle Travis

11. June-teenth Jamboree Fatso Bentley

12. Bonny Bunch Of Roses Paul Clayton

13. Every Woman I Know Billy The Kid Emerson

14. Get Rich Quick Little Richard

15. Must Have Been The Devil Otis Spann

16. 20/20 Vision Jimmy Martin

17. Ain’t Im a Dog? Ronnie Self

18. My Friends Howlin Wolf

19. Radio Boogie L.C. Smith and His Southern Playboys

20. The Old Ark’s A Moving AA Gray & Seven Foot Dilly

21. Take Me Back To Tulsa Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

22. Professor Bop Babs Gonzalez

23. Atomic Telephone The Spirit of Memphis Quartet

24. Water, Water Effie Smith and The Squires

25. 24 Hours Eddie Boyd

26. Shotgun Boogie Tennessee Ernie Ford

Disc 2

1. Hoo-Doo Say The Sly Fox

2. Back To Back, Belly To Belly (Zombie Jamboree) The Charmer

3. I Can’t Dance (I’ve Got Ants In My Pants) Roy Newman

4. A Man’s Best Friend Is a Bed Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five

5. Hungry Man Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five

6. Let’s Be Friends Billy Wright

7. Tennessee Border Hank Williams

8. Havana Moon Chuck Berry

9. 3 x 7 = 21 Jewel King

10. Christmas Morning Titus Turner

11. Peggy Sue Buddy Holly

12. Red Headed Woman Sonny Burgess

13. Uncle Pen Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys

14. Bad Luck Blues Guitar Slim

15. I’ll Drown In My Own Tears Lula Reed

16. I’ve Got The Last Laugh Now Roy Brown

17. Hearts Of Stone The Jewels

18. Paper In My Shoes Boozoo Chavis

19. Pink Cadillac Sammy Masters

20. Drifting Texas Sand Webb Pierce

21. Still A Fool (Two Trains Running) Muddy Waters

22. All Aboard Muddy Waters

23. (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I Hank Snow

24. Let Me Off Uptown Anita O’Day & Roy Eldridge

25. Tax Payin Blues JB Lenoir

26. Bad, Bad Whiskey Amos Milburn

Saturday, June 21, 2008

FCC Chair To Support XM-Sirius Merger

via The Washington Post

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin said yesterday (June 15 - fhb) that he will support a merger between the nation's sole satellite radio operators, XM and Sirius, a decision that could remove the last regulatory hurdle in the lengthy and heavily criticized move to make the companies one.

Martin came to the decision after the companies agreed last week to several commitments intended to prevent the monopoly from raising programming prices and from stifling competition among radio makers, aides to the chairman said in an interview yesterday. Critics have argued that a merger of District-based XM and Sirius of New York would hurt consumers, who would have fewer choices of programming and radio transmitters and who would be charged higher prices because of a lack of rivals.

As early as this week, Martin is expected to issue an order that the commission vote to approve the merger, which at least two of the remaining four commissioners must also agree to, the aides said.

Full article

TTRH in the WSJ

LBJ also rides the IRT to view the youth of America on LSD. And 10 Dreamtime points to readers who know the source of that non sequitur.

Anyway, Dreamtime reader/listener Steve Ramm sends us a link to an entertaining Wall Street Journal article by WSJ drama critic Terry Teachout. An excerpt:

To listen to "Theme Time Radio Hour" is to rediscover the sense of musical adventure that old-fashioned disc jockeys with strongly individual personalities offered in the days before big-money stations pinned their fiscal hopes to the rigid Top 40-style playlists that took the fun out of radio. Now that America's public-radio stations are abandoning musical programming in favor of news and talk, such shows have grown hard to find in many major markets. That's what makes satellite radio promising. Because it has so many different channels, it has room for everything -- including unpredictability.
Mr. Teachout notes as an aside that the FCC has apparently finally approved the Sirius/XM merger/takeover, of course doing it while Dreamtime was on vacay. There will be a separate post on that story upon the moment. Thanks for the tip on the WSJ article, Steve!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

That Time of Year Again

Top Cat Bear sez, "Time to close the ol' laptop and enjoy the Summer."

His brother Curly is already outside contemplating whether it's worth the effort to chase down a chipmunk, and Jailbait is fixing the steaks on the grille.

Life is good. The Dreamtime team is taking our bi-annual Summer vacay, so there'll be no updates to the site or news features for a week or so.

See you soon! ~Bear, Curly, Jailbait, and Your Host.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Juneteenth Jamboree on KRLU-TV Thursday, June 19th

Dreamtime friend Michael Emery, Director/Producer at PBS station KLRU-TV, Austin, TX writes:

Contributors, supporters, and friends, it is done! JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE looks a bit different than what I initially envisioned, but the result yet fetches an appealing look and enlightening message. You can see the results of the past 13 months of effort on KLRU-TV (broadcast channel 9) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 19th. (There will also be previews of the program at the African American Cultural Center at ACC's Eastview Campus and at the George Washington Carver Museum, both on Juneteenth.)

And if you can't watch the show on TV or attend a public screening, there's always the internet: . You can watch program segments on your computer equipped with a high-speed connection. I owe some of you a JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE DVD; if you can't wait for its arrival, catch the show online.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, and particular thanks to the late Alvin Patterson. My sister played in his Anderson Yellowjacket band, and she was the tall and graceful drum major of the band as a high school senior. My dad played alongside the Patterson brothers in earlier Anderson bands that were led by B.L. Joyce. I cannot overstate how much influence the Patterson clan had in East Austin back in the day.

Before I had any tight ideas on how to proceed, Google and the search term "Juneteenth" led me to . Mr. Fred Bals, I thank you for telling the story and playing the music of Gladys "Fatso" Bentley. Her song, "Juneteenth Jamboree," became the theme song and the title of my program. The joy of the song harmonizes well with the spirit of Juneteenth!

And special thanks to the very patient and resourceful Brian Joseph, whom I filmed and had intended to include in the show. Well, the content sort of went out of my control, and I hope to deliver Brian's story as an Internet extra on the JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE website...coming soon.

There are also the faceless many at KLRU who have been supportive of this project. These folks know how to get a TV show on the air with last year's "Show World" and aluminum foil. Amazing!

My thanks, all, and my hope: I do hope that some money will fall out of the sky, and it will provide sufficient means to create JUNETEENTH JAMBOREE 2009. And 2010. And 2011. And on and on.

Juneteenth Jamboree | Black History in Texas from klru tv on Vimeo.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Theme Time Radio Hour Makes Bob Dylan Smile

An interesting interview conducted by the Times (UK) Online here. Some nuggets:

When I ask if he finds the art establishment preferable to the one he is more used to, Dylan grins and pulls a face of mock disgust. “The music world's a made-up bunch of hypocritical rubbish. I know from publishing a memoir [2004's Chronicles Volume One] that the book people are a whole lot saner. And the art world? From the small steps I've taken in it, I'd say, yeah, the people are honest, upfront and deliver what they say. Basically, they are who they say they are. They don't pretend. And having been in the music world most of my life [he laughs again], I can tell you it's not that way. Let's just say it's less...dignified.”
He's had two proposals for a new series of paintings, both of which he sounds interested in doing. The first is Dylan portraits of celebrities: "inventors, mathematicians, scientists, business people, actors..." The other Dylan's interpretation of "historically romantic figures. Napoleon and Josephine, Dante and Beatrice, Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, Brad and Angelina [here he laughs]..."

As already reported, he's at work on Volume II of Chronicles. On Volume I he notes:
“It took me maybe two years in total. I was touring so much in the beginning, on days off or on a bus, I'd write my thoughts out in longhand or on a typewriter. It was the transcribing of the stuff, the rereading and retelling of it, that was time-consuming and I came to figure that there had to be a better way. I know what that is now. You need a full-time secretary so that you can get the ideas down immediately, then deal with them later.”
He is, unsurprisingly, hopeful about Barack Obama:

“Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval,” he says. “Poverty is demoralising. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama. He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.” He offers a parting handshake. “You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future,” he notes as the door closes between us.

And when Theme Time Radio Hour is mentioned, Dylan smiles.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Episode 55 - By Me, You're Beautiful: The Story of Bei Mir Bist du Schön

Episode 55 - By Me, You're Beautiful: The Story of Bei Mir Bist du Schön

Direct link to mp3.

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As Dreamtime Constant Listeners will remember, we devoted a whole show to the Andrews Sisters and their megahit of a calypso song - Rum and Coca-Cola - a song that turned out to be purloined by comic Morey Amsterdam from a Trinidad singer.

The first Andrews Sisters hit, Bei Mir Bist du Schön, wasn't stolen, but has almost as twisty a history as Rum and Coca-Cola. Bei Mir Bist du Schön was originally written in 1932 for a stage show, but the Yiddish musical the song had been crafted for closed without making much of a splash with the general public, and Bei Mir Bist du Schön probably would have disappeared into obscurity except for a perfect act of love and theft.

We'll talk about that in a second, but first let's hear the Andrews Sisters and their 1938 hit, Bei Mir Bist du Schön.

Bei Mir Bist du Schön - The Andrews Sisters]

So, what happened between 1932, when Bei Mir Bist du Schön first appeared as a Yiddish musical number and then disappeared off the radar, and 1938 when it suddenly returned as an English-language hit for a trio of Lutheran sisters from Minnesota?

Around 1937 the song fell into the hands of an act called "Johnnie and George," two black performers who were stopping the show at the Apollo with their swing version of Bei Mir Bist du Schön...sung to their Harlem audience in the original Yiddish.

The legend goes the two were shown the song's sheet music while doing their act up at the Grossinger's summer resort in the Catskills sometime during the late `30s. They gave the song a shot, and found their Jewish audience got a kick out of hearing two black boys doing Yiddish, so Johnnie and George made it a regular part of their show. Back in town for a gig at the Apollo in 19 and 37, the pair suddenly spring a jump jive version of Bei Mir Bist du Schön on their hipster audience... which goes wild and starts swinging up and down the aisles, setting the whole Apollo to shaking according to contemporary reports.

Watching all this is Sammy Cahn, who's dropped into the Apollo on one of his regular expeditions for musical inspiration and is now laughing in amazement as he sees the joint rocking out to a song whose lyrics the only two Jews in the crowd - he and his partner - can probably understand. Knowing a hit when he hears one, Sammy Cahn tracks down the provenance of Bei Mir Bist du Schön and finds the song's authors, who are more than happy to sell it to him for the going rate of $30 - $15 bucks each.

[Left: The Andrews Sisters with Sholom Secunda, co-author of the original Bei Mir Bist du Schön]

Cahn and his partner try to get Tommy Dorsey to introduce the song at his next live gig, but the bandleader thinks the idea of a Yiddish swing song is crazy, and isn't interested. The pair next turn to Decca Records, label for the Andrews Sisters, a sister act that was trying to break out of vaudeville into the big time of R&R - radio and records - and who needed a B-side for their new single. The three Andrews Sisters are so white bread that they think the song is in Greek, but they learn the Yiddish lyrics phonetically and do the recording.

But now Decca is worried that the song will get the Andrews pegged as an ethnic act and insists that the sisters re-record it with English lyrics. Sammy Cahn and and his partner Saul Chaplin come up with an English version of the song, but now they don't want the Andrews Sisters. The songwriters argue that if they're going to the effort of writing straight lyrics to what they had intended as a throwaway Yiddish novelty number, the song should be recorded by an established singer like Ella Fitsgerald rather than by the unknown Andrews.

But eventually Decca prevails on behalf of the sisters, and the Andrews take on the new version of the old song with the Yiddish title now Germanicized and including a built-in English translation: Bei Mir Bist du Schön (Means That You're Grand). Actually, "Bei Mir Bist du Schön" doesn't mean that you're grand in either German or Yiddish - the Yiddish translates to something like, "By Me, You're Beautiful," but that probably sounded too ethnic, too.

Of all the boys I've known, and I've known some
Until I first met you, I was lonesome
And when you came in sight, dear, my heart grew light
And this old world seemed new to me
... And so I've racked my brain, hoping to explain
All the things that you do to me
Bei mir bist du schon, please let me explain
Bei mir bist du schon means you're grand
The Andrews Sisters record in November and released their single a few days after Christmas, 1937, with the A-side the Gershwin standard, Nice Work If You Can Get It. But nobody is listening to the A-side. By New Years Eve 19 and 37, Bei Mir Bist du Schön was already an established hit on New York radio stations, and by the end of January, 1938 it had sold over 350,000 copies, jumping to the Billboard #1 slot for the next five weeks. Riots would break out at record stores whenever a new shipment of the 78 or its sheet music came in. Not bad for a piece of music where most customers got the title wrong, often asking for that hit song called something like My Mere Bit of Shame or maybe Buy Me a Beer, Mr. Shane.
"It's wowing the country," reported one New Jersey paper. "They're singing it in Camden, Wilkes-Barre, Hamilton, Ohio, and Kenosha, Wisconsin. The cowboys of the West are warbling the melody and so are the hillbillies of the South, the lumberjacks of the Northwest, the fruit packers of California, the salmon canners of Alaska. [Even] the Nazi bierstuben patrons yodel it religiously, under the impression that it's a Goebbels-approved German chanty."
That last was true. Hitler himself was said to be a big fan, thinking it a proper German-American ditty, although how he reacted when he found out the song was originally Yiddish and written - and then rewritten - by a bunch of nice Jewish boys, is unknown. Bei Mir Bist du Schön stayed popular enough in Germany that the Nazi propaganda band, Charlie and His Orchestra, who you may remember from Theme Time's Season 2 More Birds show, did a version in 1942, with lyrics changed to attack that archenemy of Fascism, Bolsheviks.

[Bei Mir Bist du Schön - Charlie and His Orchestra]

Not only did Bei Mir Bist du Schön become a breakout hit for the Andrews Sisters, it started a minor craze for what became known as Yiddish Swing. Within weeks of the song hitting the charts, a New York radio station brought a show on the air called “Yiddish Melodies in Swing” that specialized in putting a swing beat to traditional Jewish folk tunes. The show proved so successful that it packed a 600-seat theater each Sunday, and ran for two decades.

[Excerpts from Yiddish Melodies in Swing]

Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin eventually got their wish, and Ella Fitzgerald covered Bei Mir Bist du Schön, as did many other singers, including Judy Garland, Benny Goodman, Steve Lawrence, and The Barry Sisters, who we just heard performing Oh Mama, I'm So in Love. Even Theme Time favorite, Slim Gaillard did a weird scat version of the song with his partner Slam, something that sounds like it would have fit right into Theme Time's Food episode.

[Bei Mir Bist du Schön - Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart]

The little Yiddish song from 19 and 32 ended up making a lot of money for a lot of people over the years, grossing as much as $3 million dollars by some estimates. It eventually sold over a million copies, giving The Andrews Sisters the first gold record ever awarded to a female vocal group.

Sammy Cahn bought his mother a house with the royalties he earned from his $30 investment. But Shalom Secunda's - the original lyricist who sold his piece of Bei Mir Bist du Schön for $15 - mother wasn't so lucky. She spent the remainder of her days praying in a synagogue for God's forgiveness, convinced that her family must have committed some awful sin for her son to have been stupid enough to give away that song for, well, a song.

And what of Johnnie and George, the two black performers whose Apollo act launched the swing version of Bei Mir Bist du Schön? Disappeared. Forgotten. Unremembered except for Sammy Cahn's story about how he stumbled over a million-dollar song one afternoon in Harlem.

Nobody even knows their last names.

Sources and Additional Reading: The Wikipedia article is relatively stark, but includes links to invaluable source material about Bei Mir Bist du Schön. Among other sources, I drew upon articles from the All About Jewish Theatre site; the "Non-Bloggish Blog"; and most especially The Yiddish Melodies in Swing site (part of the Yiddish Radio Project), which has sections dedicated to both Bei Mir Bist du Schön and the radio program Yiddish Melodies in Swing. Highly recommended reading. Also not to be missed are these two period newspaper articles on Shalom Secunda and his mother.

As is usual with these stories, some of the facts change dependent on who's doing the telling. Sometimes the black duo's names are spelled as Johnny and George. Sometimes it's Johnnie and George. Sometimes Cahn heard them at the Cotton Club. Other times it's the Apollo.

Some stories have it that Johnnie and George came up with the swing version; other stories say it was Cahn and Chaplin. Shalom Secunda claimed that their arrangement was virtually identical to the original. Who knows?

In any case, Johnny and George probably did pick the tune up at Grossinger's sometime in the `30s, possibly from Jenny Grossinger herself, the boss of that famous Borscht Belt resort, and brought it back to Harlem. Sammy Cahn probably did hear it somewhere in Harlem and bought the rights from someone, sometimes it's directly from Shalom Secunda and his partner for $30, sometimes it's from their publishers, who according to Secunda acted as an intermediary and paid the two $30, reselling limited rights to Cahn and Co. for an undisclosed amount while still retaining the publishing rights.

The song went on to gross an estimated $3 million dollars over the next 20-odd years until the copyright expired in 1961 and reverted back to Secunda and his partner Jacobs. They renegotiated a new deal with the publishers and happily finally saw some money from their tune nearly three decades after writing it. And as I said, Johnny and George, or maybe Johnnie and George, disappeared without a trace after popularizing a Yiddish song in Harlem - a reverse case of Love and Theft.


With Theme Time Radio Hour on hiatus, Dreamtime is on a once-a-month podcast schedule for the duration. We'll be back in July with a new show. Thanks as always for listening, and 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 those nifty stewART covers.


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.

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