Friday, June 10, 2011

Television In Revolt


This was a really good episode. It was the one where Johnny Fever tries to blow up the radio station. You can see here in the picture that Earl has talked Big Guy into doing a ventriloquist act where the Big Guy is the dummy and has to sit on Earl’s knee! The act, despite Earl’s best intentions and total professionalism, is a disaster. The Big Guy has no talent and keeps wrecking the act. Seen here they have just performed it for the rest of the wkrp gang and bombed out miserably. Their own friends and employees are disgusted and enraged by the thinly veiled insults that Earl is dispensing through big guy’s mouth, and the wkrp gang are not amused. He’s getting a little too personal and it’s not funny anymore. You can see in the picture that they are throwing lettuce and tomatoes and wadded up balls of paper at them.
Meanwhile Dr Johnny fever has been suffering a flashback and has accidentally locked himself in the janitor’s closet, and in his delusional state has decided to rig up a homemade bomb to free himself from what he thinks is a Viet Kong Prisoner of War camp. He’s got some binder twine and a pack of hotdogs that he has connected to his chest and he is going to blow everybody up including himself! It is the desperate action of a desperate man and you can see this by the close-up photography of sweat on his forehead and his eyes darting back and forth. There’s intense, heat-of-the moment incidental music that sounds like seconds ticking away. Then the most amazing thing happens. Instead of ending the program with the expected climax and denouement, the writers get all Beckett on the TV viewing audience and put the absurdist “To be continued…” on the screen, leaving it open, never to reveal what actually happens to Dr Fever or Earl & Big guy’s showbiz careers. It’s a double whammy that really made me think all those years ago, a real “what if?” moment. It was a unique and thought provoking way to design television and considered to be quite revolutionary for its time, changing the way we look at television, and in turn, ourselves.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some Reflections

Cincinnati Comes Alive

For today’s lesson I want to cover some Theory, mainly dealing with the history and cultural significance of the song that I have been working on learning to play on the piano. This song, “WKRP in Cincinnati”, was a chart-busting mega-phenomenon super hit when it came out and it spawned a multi-million-dollar entertainment and luxury Product Empire for not only its writers and publishers, but also its singer, legendary starlet Loni Anderson. Her rendition of this standout hit from the television theme music / adult-contemporary genre became an instant classic then and has reached iconic status as of today. But few remember the TV show that started it all. Come with me as I take you down the hall to a special room with a magical TV set that sees into the past and shows forgotten television programming from days gone by. It’s coming in clearer now. Here it is, it is about this radio station where Loni Anderson works and all of the action revolves around her. The station is run by this mean old bald headed dude known as “The Big Guy” He is always furious because his radio station is in the toilet and he is losing his shirt. The Big Guy has two lackeys that that are always by his side. The one was Fred or Earl or Something, he sold used cars and was a really good singer, the ladies couldn’t get enough of him. He was the most hilarious character in the program and most of the time he was having wild adventures trying to get Loni into show business with little success. He would always show up, late, and clueless as to what all the fuss was about; he’s so laid-back, always with the lit cigar in his bejeweled manicured hand. The patchwork on his suit was not sewn-on denim bits, but actually a pattern printed onto polyester. The other stooge is this guy called Les Nesman. He is basically the brains of the operation, running the operation from behind the scenes. He is so diabolically clever as to run the entire station at a loss so as to provide the perfect cover for his more sinister machinations. He’s a mad genius with a shady past and whisperings of Nazi lineage. The on-air talent at this radio station is made up of two guys only: both of them doctors (!). The one guy was “rock and roll all day” acid casualty and Viet nam vet Dr. Johnny Fever, who is out of his mind and always doing things like playing records backwards and going up on the roof naked. He is on the air during the daytime; at night it’s dr. Venus. He’s a total Mack daddy, all pimped out and he plays the “sweet soul music to carry you into the night” He has an Afro and a dashiki and always give the black power salute. But mainly the show was about Loni Anderson. The rest of the characters were all so stupid that they thought she was beautiful. This was meant to play out as a running comic gag because; she was played by Loni Anderson who is fucking harsh looking. There is also Bailey, who was Playboy Pet of the Month in real life but the producers of the show felt it best to put glasses on her to convey that she was a dog. Except for occasional cameo walk-ons by sleazy record industry types and crazed fans of the DJs the only other actor was the ghost of Big Guy’s Mom. From time to time The Big Guy’s mother speaks to him from beyond the grave. She was only on once in a while, and was represented by a voice emanating from a haunted oil painting in BG’s office. I forget the actress who did the voice; she used to be in bewitched. Apart from those people, the station itself is like a character. It throbs with the energy of true rock & roll, and every time Johnny Fever puts on a wicked Bob Seager track or some smokin’ Kenny Loggins lightning hits the transmission tower (see illustration) and all hell breaks loose. The place literally explodes and everyone, even Bailey, is doing air guitar, jumping around on one leg. “Long Live Rock!” Shouts doctor Fever, and the live studio audience bursts into applause signaling the end of the episode.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another "Run-Through"



I’m going to go give this WKRP song another try and see if I can’t hammer it out. Wait for around 0:28 . The hook is there, and I’ve almost got the knack of it for about a second. I might not be playing it right…there are a lot of sharps and flat notes that I’m ignoring altogether. I’ll fix that after I get the over all feeling of the piece. It is a small masterpiece of MOR Adult contemporary television theme music, and in the simplicity of the tune, it is a deceivingly complicated piano-thing to deliver.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Little Known Fact...



INTERESTING STORY… Apparently WKRP was not just made up for the show but it was and is a real actual place. According to my freind Donny, Cincinnati is an actual existing midwestern American city. It’s in Ohio.

“I did not know that…” Johnny Carson (deceased)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deeper Meanings




I’m thinking about this song and how depressing it is. The lyrical content is what I am talking about here. I mean, the song itself is great. A treasure and a gem, the one standout tune in the 20th Century Songbook for sure. Miraculous even, for it has given me the gift of knowledge with regards to playing piano music, no, I mean what the song is about - this is what’s sad, very sad, you see it is about a loser. A sad and lonely loser at love who has lost out so bad he had to leave town in shame. I guess someone was fucking around or something. Whatever the case he’s suckered. The guy in the song is relegated to this freeze-dried Middle America that only exists for fucked-out truckers and spent meth heads. Vacant air conditioned highways and the sort. The lyrics rely heavily on the classic top 40 poetic device of using a radio dial to describe the endless wanderings of this broken hearted loser. Deep down he knows that it was “never meant to be” but he is still doomed to an existence haunting cheap hotel rooms where he endlessly packs, then unpacks his luggage, manically subverting his anxieties into an obsessive-compulsive disorder. If that weren’t harrowing enough of an emotional roller-coaster ride for the listener, the ending passage creates this ominous foreshadowing of false hopes and impotent yearnings as he asks ”maybe, just maybe…once in a while…” knowing full well that she has already forgotten him, never really cared to begin with, and will never ever think of him again, not even occasionally, but still he clings to his delusional state of denial, which makes him doubly cursed. It’s so dark and nihilistic; almost anti-human. It is one of the best depictions of the breakdown of sanity in the first person view of an afflicted mind. The song tears the emotional equilibrium to pieces. To hear it, puts one right into the same miserable state of existential angst as the protagonist. You wonder if the lyricist did not have sadistic intent, it is that effective in cursing the listener’s psyche, destroying their mental and emotional well-being. It’s like a kick in the stomach, truly gut-wrenching. This is possibly the greatest song that has ever appeared at the library in the piano books section. Even though it is not containing happy or joyful themes, one can redeem some positivism from it by learning from the hard and cruel lessons of its beleaguered singer…this being; never go to that Dark Cincinnati of The Soul for you may never return and live to see tomorrow. This can ultimately produce joy in the listener because thankfully you yourself are not so romantically doomed to total rejection and dejection and you can feel relief for this. Ultimately I take this song as a warning. It is a warning to me personally to not be taken up by the Passions and to stay diligent to my piano lessons and my piano lessons only. In this respect it is a masterpiece of meta-didactics for the piano because by learning it I learn to learn the piano even more so, and the more I learn the more I am compelled to learn further. If I keep mastering this one song, eventually I will master all of the piano, all learning, and ultimately the entirety of the universe itself.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Great Expectations


HERE I AM MAKING ANOTHER BRAVE ATTEMPT AT WKRP IN CINCINNATI.
IT DOESNT SOUND ANYTHING LIKE THE ORIGINAL. ITS EITHER that I’M DOING SOMETHING WRONG OR that THE GUY WHO TRANSCRIBED IT doesnt know what he’s doing! Its starting to sound worse.I MAY GIVE UP TRYING IF IT DOESNT SOUND BETTER SOON. there are some kenny logins songs in this book I am anxious to get to.