Friday, December 20, 2013

"'Radio Earlo' - Part One"

An unexpected change of pace:

When I lived in England, I would listen to this radio show called Desert Island Discs ­– a show, Wikipedia tells us, which began in 1942 and recently celebrated its seventieth year on the air. 

The concept of the show is that a guest of some notability would be invited on, and in the course of an interview, they would be asked which eight records they would take with them if they were ever stranded alone on a desert island.

Well, I am not going to a desert island – we are, as previously mentioned, heading for Hawaii – and I am only selecting six songs, but besides that, the concept, starting today and running all next week, is the same. 

This is the music I would take with me if I were away somewhere on my own. 

For the next six outings, what I am presenting, in lieu of regular blog posts, are recordings of six of my favorite pieces of music.  There are a significantly larger number, but I shall save the others for another time.  (Unless you hate this idea, in which case I shall never do it again.)

My first offering is John Prine’s “Hello In There.”  John Prine is an appealing but demonstrably unsingerly vocalist (not unlike myself) and – to my taste – a magnificent songwriter.  This selection exemplifies both of those attributes.

Overall, musically, I lean heavily towards the troubadour, the person – male or female – who goes out there alone (Think also: the standup comedian) and gives them what they’ve got.  I identify powerfully with such performers.  A more courageous Earlo might imaginably have been one of them.

I am entirely unfamiliar with these people personally.  If I were familiar with them, it is possible my haloing opinion of them would be otherwise. 

I recall once attending a James Taylor concert.  Taylor had just finished a number and after the applause died down, a voice from the audience called out,

“We love you!”

Taylor’s immediate riposte to this sentiment was:

“That’s because you don’t know me.”

I know nothing about John Prine personally.

But I am deeply affected by this song.

I hope you enjoy this sampling. 

And hopefully the other selections to come.

Oh, yeah, and please feel free to offer some "Desert Island Disc" selections of your own.


Jim Russell said...

Great selection -- love that song!

Looking forward to the rest of your selections.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The playwright Tom Stoppard had fun with Desert Island Discs in his play THE REAL THING, in which the male lead (a playwright not unlike Stoppard himself) struggled to come up with sufficiently erudite music because the ony music he liked and was moved by was the silliest of pop songs (Da Do Ron Ron being one of them, as I recall). The seletion of music is much discussed in the opening scenes, and Our Hero is told that the records are supposed to represent turning points in his life. (Another piece he wants to use turns out to be The Skater's Waltz, which he rejects because it's "too banal".)

A friend told me once that Tex Ritter, when he was on, chose eight Tex Ritter records.

I've always thought it would be good to run a TV version of the show, Desert Island Films. (I would take A Night at the Opera, Day for Night, All That Jazz, Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe, Rosi's Carmen...but anyway...)

Music isn't so easy for me. I'd actually rather take a banjo, guitar, or autoharp so I could *play* (see the MP3s on my Web site for samples, if you're curious). If I *had* to take records, I know the first one would be the Bach b minor Mass. If I could only pick one piece out of that perfectly crafted series of gems, it would be Agnus Dei.


Doormat of the NL said...

A fun game...& a good start. I'll follow along w/you, daily, and as today's genre seems to be the folk balladeer, I pick one of John's co-conspirators of the day, the late, great, Steve Goodman. Both Prine and Goodman were Chicago stars, playing in many of the same venues. I enjoyed Steve more cuz he could sing. I also enjoyed his humorous lyrics which infused so many of his songs. Lastly, he was a Cubs fan and he wrote several tunes about that horrible team incl. my fave, A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request. Goodman also wrote the tune Arlo Gutherie made famous, The City of New Orleans. And numerous tunes for Jimmy Buffet. If you've ever been to Wrigley Field, you become very susceptible to the curse, becoming a Cubs fan. In that remarkable season of 1984, the Cubs shook off the jinx and steamrolled the NL East. Steve Goodman, who had fought leukemia since 1968, was scheduled to sing the National Anthem for Game 1 of the NL playoffs. But unfortunately, Cool Hand Leuk (as he called himself), passed away just 4 days before the Cubs officially clinched the NL East flag. He was 36. My first choice is therefore, Steve Goodman's, A Dying Cubs Fans Last Request. YouTube has many, many Goodman videos. Check him out. He's a treat.

Johnny Walker said...

Where did you live here in the UK, Earl? If in London, whereabouts?

I guess you don't do Friday questions, like Ken Levine, but perhaps someone here can answer some of my TAXI questions...

It's interesting watching the series through in order. At the end of Season 3, Latka has the most amazing episode where he decides to reinvent himself as "Vic Ferrari" - a man molded from the pages of Playboy magazine.

Andy Kaufman is AMAZING in this episode, and you can clearly see that the writers had hit on something special.

One early episode in the next season seemingly takes this successful episode and opens it up so Kaufman's abilities can be used whenever the writers need to: Latka is given "multiple personality disorder".

The way history has been written since Kaufman's death, this was supposedly done because Kaufman was getting bored playing Latka -- but, seeing it from a TV production point of view, it makes perfect sense that the writers, having hit on a successful formula, would want to re-use it again.

Do you have any memories of this, Earl?

I was also wondering why the Charles brothers left TAXI at the end of Season 3? Was it solely to develop Cheers fulltime? (It wouldn't start for another year -- Season 5 of TAXI.)

And, from any TAXI fans POV: What's Season 4 and 5 like? Apparently 4 was run by Ken Estin, Howard Gewirtz, and Ian Praiser, and 5 by Ken Estin, Sam Simon, and Richard Sakai.

I can't imagine such big shake ups in staff are a good sign... but I'm hoping the quality remains the same. I loved Season 3!

Johnny Walker said...

Well, to answer my own questions, I found a great interview with the Charles brothers (on where they talked about leaving simply because they felt it was time. No other reason than that.

Also, Sam Simon, in his interview on the same site, talks about how Season 5 was a little up and down, and how James Brooks was less available during that season.

So I guess that answers a lot!

Simon has a great description of what it was like working with the Charles bros: (paraphrase) We'd sit around and crack jokes, and every so often someone would whisper something to the writers assistant, and then at a reasonable hour we'd have 42 pages of great script.

Simon also talks about Kaufman, saying he was completely reasonable and very professional, and that from his experience with him, the Man on the Moon version of events is fiction.

He also talks about Shelley Long, explaining that, while she wasn't always easy, he felt that the Charles bros had been spoiled by the cast of Taxi: A group so tight and easy going they'd happily take a brand new scene and perform it in front of an audience without any rehearsal.

I don't know why I'm posting all this, other than that it might be of some interest to your readers, Earl! :)

pumpkinhead said...

Earlo, glad to see you've learned to use Wikipedia :)

You're off to a good start with John Prine.

Johnny, Taxi or Andy Kaufman info is definitely always interesting.

Here is one of my desert island selections: