January 30, 2009

"The Wild Side of Life"

The following post was inspired by a reviewing of The Last Picture Show, so you'll pardon the extra twang (or not).

The other Hank

From the Wikipedia entry:

"The Wild Side of Life" is a song made famous by country music singer Hank Thompson. Originally released in 1952, the song became one of the most popular recordings in the genre's history, spending 15 weeks at No. 1 Billboard country charts, solidified Thompson's status as a country music superstar and inspired the answer song, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" by Kitty Wells.

"The Wild Side of Life" carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" by the Carter Family and "Great Speckled Bird" by Roy Acuff. That, along with the song's story of a woman shedding her role as domestic provider to follow the night life, combined to become one of the most famous country songs of the early 1950s.

According to country music historian Bill Malone, "Wild Side" co-writer William Warren was inspired to create the song after his experiences with a young woman — a honky tonk angel, as it were — who "found the glitter of the gay night life too hard to resist." Fellow historian Paul Kingsbury wrote that the song appealed to people who "thought the world was going to hell and that faithless women deserved a good deal of the blame."

Thompson's original 1952 recording (you know you're curious about this screencap of that, er, honky tonk, uh,...angel):

Here he is a couple of decades later (January 1980) performing it on Hee Haw, so....hee haw!:

Finally, here is a video I edited that includes the scene from The Last Picture Show in which "The Wild Side of Life" is so poignantly and powerfully used, along with a similar (I think) scene from another movie and universe, tacked on the end. So hee haw! again:

January 29, 2009

Puppet dictator

Friday nights during the 70's would most often find me and my little sis' watching The Carol Burnett Show. Without a doubt, the cast member who had us in stitches most frequently was Tim Conway (followed closely behind by Harvey Korman). This is a particularly funny skit in which Conway, as was typical, goes off script and cracks up the other performers (Lyle Waggoner is the victim here). I'm not sure folks would find this humorous today, and that can't be a good thing:

January 27, 2009

"Life in a Northern Town"

From the Wikipedia entry:

"Life in a Northern Town" is a song by The Dream Academy, a British folk rock group. The song was the opening track to their 1985 debut album, The Dream Academy. Reaching #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1986, it was their biggest hit.

The lyrics are references to Tanworth-in-Arden (England) native Nick Drake, who died of an antidepressant overdose in 1974. The Dream Academy intended the song as a tribute to Drake.

There were two different versions of the music video. The first one was made in 1984 and was filmed in Hebden Bridge near Halifax in Yorkshire, UK

This video was later updated when the song became international top 5 hit in 1985. This original one has a cool little Beatles moment in it and seems more "northern town"-ish. How could they (The Dream Academy) ever top this? I think the answer is they couldn't (unfortunately).

"Life in a Northern Town"

A Salvation Army band played
And the children drank lemonade
And the morning lasted all day,
All day
And through an open window came
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away
Ah -

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

They sat on the stoney ground
And he took a cigarette out
And everyone else came down
To listen.
He said "In winter 1963
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And the Beatles."

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
All the work shut down.

The evening had turned to rain
Watch the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down
To the station
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight

Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.
Ah hey ma ma ma
Life in a northern town.

Here they are doing it on Saturday Night Live during my senior year in high school (1985):

January 22, 2009

John Lennon liked Monopoly

Monopoly: The Beatles Collectors Edition

From John Lennon: The Life:

A small party of journalists, British and American, rode on the Beatles' plane (while on a leg of their 1964 North American tour), filing reports from the campaign trail. he included thirty-five-year-old Art Schreiber, a senior correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting System, whose usual beat was politics and national affairs. Schreiber initially wondered how to get a handle on this very different subject matter; then in a conversation with John, he happened to mention that he enjoyed playing Monopoly. At this, John's sardonic cool melted into schoolboyish enthusiam. "I've got a board!" he said.

from Whimsical Super Genius' photostream

So while the rest of the Beatles' party whiled away in-flight hours with their usual poker game, John and Art Scheiber would play Monopoly, sometimes joined by George Harrison. "George would hardly say a word for the whole game," Scheiber remembers. "But John always got really involved and excited. He always stood up to throw the dice. And if he got Park Place and Boardwalk, he'd be triumphant. He didn't care if he ost the game so long as he had those two properties. We played so late sometimes that I'd doze off to sleep. Then I'd feel a dig in my ribs and hear John's voice: 'Come on, Art...it's your move.'" (Philip Norman, p. 371)

January 21, 2009


From dereck von's photostream

Wikipedia entry:

"Wonderland" is a single by XTC released in June 1983, written by Colin Moulding and taken from the album Mummer.

Although they had shifted in a more acoustic direction on their previous album English Settlement, it was with "Wonderland" that their sound could first be described as pastoral, which became their hallmark for the next several years.

This is one of the few songs from the Mummer sessions to feature drummer Terry Chambers prior to his sudden departure from XTC.

Leader Andy Partridge has subsequently described "Wonderland" as one of Moulding's "most beautiful melodies."

And amen to that. This is one of those XTC songs that early on established Moulding as an occasional McCartney to Andy Partridge's Lennon:

January 19, 2009

"Get on Your Boots"

Here is "Get on Your Boots," the first single from U2's March release, No Line on the Horizon. Upon the first few listenings, I quite like it, but I can't help but be reminded of The Escape Club.

January 18, 2009

Morning in Tyler, Texas

I drove through Tyler, Texas, last weekend, and went back again this Saturday morning. It was worth the return trip.

12 oaks motor hotel sign
southern maid donuts in tyler
souther maid donuts neon sign
Southern Maid has been around since the 1950s

sky vue drive-in theater sign
The recently opened Sky Vue Drive-In Theater sign

iglesia nueva in tyler
a church near downtown

former gas station in tyler
Once a Phillips 66

humble oil in tyler
I found this former Humble Oil gas station, looking identical to the ones I'd seen in Houston. Those were Art Deco from the 1930s, so I'd bet this one is too.

independent order of odd fellows hall in tyler
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall

another angle on odd fellows neon signodd fellows neon sign
details of i.o.o.f. hall in tyler
morning view of erwin st. in tyler
Looking east, down Erwin St.

smith county courthouse
The Smith County Courthouse, c. 1955

liberty theatre in early morning
The Liberty Theatre

616 w. erwin
The porthole windows on this mean it's Streamline

corner of art deco bldg. in tyler

The former car dealership right across the street appeared to also be Streamline:
streamline car dealership in tyler
tyler service parts co. with neon
This business is still opened.

tyler court sign
tyler court neon sign
For a former motor court-style of motel. Probably from the '30s or '40s.

borden's neon sign
borden's in tyler
This is lit at night. I'll need to get back one evening.

masonic lodge sign in tyler
Masonic Lodge neon sign

front view of path 402 bldg.
new or old deco in tyler
This Art Deco building has been around for at least 50 years, according to a commenter at the Flickr page.

fuller's fine foods neon sign
Fuller's Fine Foods, open for business

j.d. stanley's famous pit bar b-q
j.d. stanley's famous pit bar b-q signage
Stanley's Pit Bar B-Q, in business since 1959

January 16, 2009

"American Patrol"

The Wikipedia entry:

"American Patrol" is a popular march written by F.W. Meacham in 1885. Written originally for piano, it was then arranged for wind band and published by Carl Fischer in 1891. Meacham's widow renewed the copyright in 1912. It was later arranged for Glenn Miller's swing band by Jerry Gray, and was also arranged by composer Morton Gould. It incorporates melodies from other patriotic American songs of the era such as "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" and "Dixie".

"American Patrol" was popular in both the Great War and World War II.

Glenn Miller made it swing baby, yeah:

January 15, 2009

"Chattanooga Choo Choo"

From the Wikipedia entry:

"Chattanooga Choo Choo" was a big-band/swing song featured in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade, which starred amongst others Sonja Henie, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, the Modernaires, Milton Berle, and Joan Davis. It was performed in the film as an extended production number, featuring vocals by Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, and the Modernaires.

Captain Glenn Miller

The 78-rpm commercial version of the song was recorded on May 7th, 1941 for RCA Victor's Bluebird label and became the first to be certified a gold disc on February 10, 1942, for sales of 1,200,000.

The song was written by the team of Mack Gordon and Harry Warren while traveling on the Southern Railway's "Birmingham Special" train. The song tells the story of travelling from New York City to Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Choo Choo did not refer to any particular train, though some have incorrectly asserted that it referred to Louisville and Nashville's Dixie Flyer or the Southern Railway's Crescent Limited.

Here is that performance from the movie Sun Valley Serenade. The singer is Tex Beneke, accompanied by Paula Kelly and the Modernaires, with of course, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra:

This person videoed his Wurlitzer 1015 78rpm jukebox as it played the original Bluebird label recording. It's so cool someone would share this with everybody in Internetland:

"You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner
Nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham an' eggs in Carolina"

All the verses are good, but that one is particularly nice. Great meter. Rappers would call it flow. Know what I'm sayin'?

January 14, 2009

20 Men I Admire

Keith at The Dino Lounge has come up with a pretty cool meme. Says Keith:

This is called the 20 Men I Admire Meme. The title pretty much says it all. I decided to pick entertainers of the past (some of these men are still living), but other bloggers could pick men of any era.

Make sure you post these rules when you participate in this meme. Here are the rules:

A. Link back to the blog that tagged you.

B. Link back to the originator of this meme, which is The Dino Lounge.

C. Create your own list of 20 men that you admire and post them on your blog.

D. Tag 5 other people to particpate in this meme.

E. If you like, please let The Dino Lounge know that you've participated in this meme so he can check out your posting and comment on it. Thanks.

I'll tag the following individuals, all of whom will meet with varying degrees of bad luck should they break the chain choose to not participate. Actually, I'm tagging a few sites that don't do this type of post, so I do not expect them to follow up.

1. He who tagged me, the hardest working pop culture blogger in show business, Gilligan at Retrospace. Little buddy has done some of the most original posts in existence. If you think you have a unique idea for a post, forget about - he's already done it!

2. Mr. Dante Fontana at PCL LinkDump, an inspiration to pop culture bloggers around the world, and one of the first.

3. Rich at fourfour. He is a talented writer with an amazing work ethic, who is also maddeningly creative and funny as hell. He was an early inspiration for me to try my hand at doing a blog, and one of the first "big blogs" to link to me.

4. Cathy at cityrag. Again, an inspiration to begin a blog of my own. My original "vision" for this blog was an East Texas cityrag. I just couldn't live up to it. Two of the greatest experiences I've had being a blogger occurred on two separate occasions when she linked to my Ocean's 11 and Tony Rome posts. I was surprised I could fit my head through the door the morning after those days.

5. Finally, Gunnar and Sherry at Eccentric Roadside, who share my love of "the road," and all the cool things awaiting discovery out there, upon it.

And now, the 20 Men I Admire, not so much ordered as they are categorized:

My Father

Abraham Lincoln

Thomas Jefferson

Raymond Chandler

Philip Roth

John Steinbeck

Kurt Vonnegut

Alfred Hitchcock

Stanley Kubrick

William Christenberry

John Lennon

Paul McCartney

Oscar Peterson

Duke Ellington

Dave Brubeck


James Dean

Peter Sellers

Prison Mike, a.k.a., Steve Carell

Francis Albert Sinatra