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MMD > Archives > December 1998 > 1998.12.18 > 11Prev  Next


Sing Along With The Impeachment Hearings
By Douglas Henderson

Hello MMD readers, As our Capitol Hill -- and our national government
in general -- reaches increasingly lower standards on a daily basis,
there is one avenue offered by Artcraft Music Rolls: "comic relief".

This comes in the form of a Set of 3 Word Rolls in the 88-Note format
called "The Hypocrisy Trilogy".  Each title a popular seller in its own
right, but a recurring 'hit' whenever a politician or preacher
(sometimes 2-in-1) steps forward to tender a sanctimonious
"holier-than-thou" stand in public debate.

These are the 88-Note Artcraft Rolls which constitute "The Hypocrisy
Trilogy", along with the URL's for complete descriptions of the musical
arrangements:

1) The Preacher And The Bear
    http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/rolls5.htm - use "Find"
and select Preacher;

2) Politics and Poker from "Fiorello!" (Intro.: Little Tin Box)
    http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/rolls5.htm - use "Find"
and select Politics;

3) 'Lectronic Religion (Give Me That 'Lectronic Religion)
    http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/rolls3.htm - use "Find"
and select Religion

While it might come as a surprise to those who have not heard these
3 Word/Dialogue rolls of mine, the three arrangements 'dovetail'
together into one complete "whole", musically and by subject matter!

THE PREACHER AND THE BEAR was the brainchild of collector Ed Openshaw,
who moved to Maine (later New Hampshire) in the mid-1980's.  In 1986 he
suggested a roll of The Preacher And The Bear to replace the ratty,
unsatisfying one which J. L. Cook tossed-out for Imperial Industrial
(QRS) in the 1940's, and I took up the option.  Ed provided tapes of
the Arthur Collins dialogue for several Edison cylinder records (which
differed on each take), so that the "bear growls" and sound effects
could be incorporated into the phrased dialogue which was set to a
'silent movie' type of musical accompaniment.  The roll was released
later in that year and has been an unqualified sales success ever
since.

Back in the days when I used to spend time at Imperial Industrial Co.
(QRS) in the Bronx, under the Kortlanders' management, I offered them a
few Master Rolls, cut on my Leabarjan #5 in Washington/Georgetown,
D.C., where I was living with the Konvalinkas at the time.  While one
of my three standard sized rolls was released (#9838) -- after being
highly altered by Mr. Cook -- the management turned-down my idea of
reintroducing "Broadway medley" rolls to their catalogue offerings of
the day.  It was 1960, and I had just perforated a 4-tune phrased
medley of songs from "Fiorello!", the award winning show of 1959, then
still playing in New York City.  The long roll featured 2 additional
numbers: Gentleman Jim, a Charleston dance production number, and
'til Tomorrow, a ballad.

Due to the sales success of The Preacher And The Bear, and the pending
Iran-Contra hearings in the 1980's, I reexamined my 'rejected' medley
for QRS and decided to focus on just 2 songs this time, using the new
arrangement to introduce the dialogue from the original cast LP record,
and give the Pianolist a series of performance variations.  This is
why the 2nd version, viz. the released edition of "Fiorello!" music,
contains the catchy Waltz: Politics and Poker as well as the soft-shoe
dance Little Tin Box, about a political slush fund.  (If you were an
Iran-Contra news junkie, the similarity in explanations and circum-
stances between Oliver North in the 1980's and the characters in the
Mayor Jimmy Walker scandal of the 1920's were uncanny, especially in
this "where's the money?" dance song.)

Finally, Mark Russell, who comes to Maine frequently, granted me per-
mission, at a PBS-TV reception held in Portland, for his unpublished TV
Evangelist parody: Give Me That 'Lectronic Religion.  I let the project
sit for a couple of years, but eventually, after goading from Lois
Konvalinka and a Duo-Art collector in a nearby Maine community, got
the song started, working from videotapes.  This roll turned into a
"tent show" featuring a chant, extracted from a Jim and Tammy Bakker
song that Mark Russell presented at the University of Maine in Orono,
and a hot chorus of We're In The Money from Warner Bros.' "Golddiggers
of 1933" talking musical.

This third roll of 'The Hypocrisy Trilogy', when completed, formed an
integrated Set, though at the time I was just concentrating on turning
out another long-playing Word/Dialogue roll -- i.e. with sections that
could be "read" or "recited" as the musical vamps continued, in between
each song chorus.

As luck would have it, Give Me That 'Lectronic Religion was released
the same week that a noted TV Evangelist blubbered in the media about
his sexual depravity, and so forth.  (You remember that case, don't
you?)  His maudlin slobbering on TV, on magazine covers and in news-
paper interviews served as a free commercial for the player roll, the
result of which propelled this perforated Mark Russell song to sales
heights which Artcraft will probably never experience again for an
initial release.  It has been estimated that the advance sales for Give
Me That 'Lectronic Religion surpassed any others for a music roll title
since the year 1931.

You can't keep good and witty music down.  Just a few weeks ago, on
CNN's "Crossfire" program, Mark Russell appeared with a piano -- doing
a medley of new and old spoofs about the Washington, D.C. political
scene.  The program ended with his terrific Give Me That 'Lectronic
Religion, which he - like me - realized was just as timely today as it
was during that PTL Club era of the recent past.  Sample lines from the
music roll: "Tammy Bakker is our queen/She's baptized in Maybelline..."

Naturally, I am concerned about the tabloid status of the news report-
ing today ... and the holier-than-thou "religion + politics" soap opera
which is playing itself out on PBS, CNN and C-Span ... as well as
within the press.

We'll survive!  We've outlasted the Know-Nothing party and the Palmer
Raids of the early 1920's (see the text for NEW PINK TEA FOX TROT:
http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/rolls2.htm - use "find" and select
"Repressive").

The best antidote is, in my opinion, to get out the 3 rolls of 'The
Hypocrisy Trilogy' and start a home songfest.  The music is good and
the arrangements are lively, certainly more appealing that the droning
politicians trotting out litanies of whose personal cesspool was less
deep than somebody else's.

Bock and Harnick, who wrote "Fiorello!" and later "Fiddler On The
Roof", also penned "Tenderloin" which featured Maurice Evans as a
morality-pushing political preacher.  In my opinion, Broadway should
consider reviving "Tenderloin" in light of the current political
events; Artificial Flowers, a parody of a Victorian sob song, came from
this period musical about sex-and-politics in another era.

Composer Jerry Bock used to visit our Georgetown DC shop, since his
musicals were being tried-out at the National Theatre, prior to the New
York City debuts, in the early 1960's.  One musical with Barbara Cook
was called "She Loves Me", based on "The Little Shop Around The
Corner", and this story is soon to be recycled with Meg Ryan and Tom
Hanks as "You Have Mail"; Jerry wrote a number for the Konvalinkas in
"She Loves Me", and this appears when the musical box is played on the
stage show (adapted from a musical box scene of the earlier motion
picture, which featured a Russian folk tune instead of an original
song).

Let's hope that "Tenderloin" gets a new lease on life via a Broadway
revival!  I'd love to cut 2 numbers from this sparkling show:
Everybody's Happy, That's That Way It Stands (Just So Long As The Money
Changes Hands), and Keep Your Hands Off Little Old New York.  (Come to
think of it, there are many more additional songs from "Tenderloin"
which would make a snappy and hilarious music roll from this
effervescent Bock & Harnick opus.)

See you at the Pianola.  (My TV is off for the time being!)

Regards from Maine,

Douglas Henderson, Artcraft Music Rolls
PO Box 295, Wiscasset, ME 04578
(207) 882-7420
http://www.wiscasset.net/artcraft/


(Message sent Fri 18 Dec 1998, 16:07:47 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Along, Hearings, Impeachment, Sing

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