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Posted:|| May 17, 2017 Views: 195|
The latest from Time Life Music
by Mark Valentine
SCENE: A television set. The Time Life logo appears on the screen. The voice of the announcer is heard.
ANNOUNCER: The following is a paid advertisement for Time Life Music.
Fade into legendary singer Pat Boone and Time Life spokeswoman Sandy Davis on a set designed to look like a 1950’s malt shop.
SANDY: Hi I’m Sandy Davis, and here with me is legendary entertainer Pat Boone.
PAT BOONE: Hi, Sandy.
SANDY: Hi, Pat. For the next half hour we’re going to take you on a musical trip back through the fifties, sixties, and early seventies. Pat, I know those days hold special memories for you.
PAT BOONE: You’re certainly right about that, Sandy.
SANDY: Rock and roll was in its infancy. It was a new genre that had a new energy.
PAT BOONE: Four chord progressions that reflected what was happening with the young generation.
SANDY: Dancing, young love, cars, drive-in movies…
PAT BOONE: …and gruesome death.
A photo of a collection of CDs appears on the screen along with a call-in number. The voice of an off-screen narrator is heard.
NARRATOR: Yes, it’s “Death and Dismemberment”, the exciting new collection from Time Life Music. For the first time anywhere, Time Life has assembled in one place all the great songs that portray teenagers meeting their violent ends. You’ll get hits like this:
(song plays as the screen returns to Pat and Sandy in the malt shop)
I couldn’t stop so I swerved to the right, I’ll never forget the sound that night. The screamin’ tires the bustin’ glass, the painful screams that I heard last.
SANDY: That, of course, is “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson. Lyrics like that really help you fully appreciate the total devastation of a 1950’s head-on collision.
PAT BOONE: That’s right, Sandy. Remember that cars back then were big and they were made of steel. A ’57 Chevy Bel Air weighed about 3,400 pounds. Imagine the damage that could do.
SANDY: No kidding. And the windshields were made of real glass – decapitations were not uncommon back then.
PAT BOONE: And that’s part of what makes these songs so touching. They capture not only the horror of gruesome
automobile accidents, but also the beauty of teenage romance that somehow transcends the ugliness of mangled bodies. Let’s listen to some more from “Last Kiss”: (song plays)
Something warm was running in my eyes, but I found my baby somehow that night
I lifted her head, she looked at me and said "Hold me darling just a little while."
I held her close, I kissed her our last kiss
I found the love that I knew I would miss
PAT BOONE: What a beautiful scene. A teenage driver, himself covered in blood, holding the twisted, mutilated body of his soon-to-be-dead girlfriend, and kissing her.
SANDY: I’m getting misty just thinking about it.
PAT BOONE: And if you liked that one, there’s plenty more where that came from. They’re all on the first CD in our collection, “Blood on the Highway”.
SANDY: Who can ever forget this classic by Jan and Dean? (song plays)
Well, the last thing I remember, Doc, I started to swerve, and then I saw the Jag slide into the curve. I know I’ll never forget that horrible sight. I guess I found out for myself that everyone was right. Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve.
PAT BOONE: Those are the songs that put the ‘car’ in ‘carnage’.
SANDY: Good one, Pat. And speaking of racing deaths, how about this one from Ray Peterson? (song plays)
He saw a sign for a stock car race
A thousand dollar prize it read
He couldn't get Laura on the phone
So to her mother Tommy said
Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her
Tell Laura I may be late
I've something to do, that cannot wait
PAT BOONE: It speaks to a simpler time in America, when a teenager could simply show up to a race track with his parents’ Pontiac Bonneville, and compete in a stock car race for cash.
SANDY: No bureaucracy, no waivers to sign.
PAT BOONE: You roll the dice, you take your chances.
SANDY: And while he didn’t win the race, what a grand romantic gesture.
PAT BOONE: Absolutely, Sandy. The song really brings to life the image of a young driver being pulled from a burning car.
SANDY: He was probably in great pain, his body horribly mangled.
PAT BOONE: And quite likely on fire.
SANDY: And yet he still managed to use his last breath to make sure Laura knew how he felt.
PAT BOONE: Talk about your burning passion.
SANDY: And it wasn’t just cars that were responsible for the blood on the highway. Motorcycles got in on the action too. Remember “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las?
PAT BOONE: Of course. A classic story of a girl dating a rebel of whom her parents do not approve, Let’s give it a listen: (song plays)
In school they all stopped and stared, I can’t hide the tears, but I don’t care. I’ll never forget him, the leader of the pack.
SANDY: You know, that lyric speaks to another great aspect of these songs – they had a moral.
PAT BOONE: They sure did. At a time when dropping out of high school was all too common, notice how she stayed in school to finish her education in spite of her grief.
SANDY: Yes, that truly is the moral of this song. Well, that, and be sure to wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle.
PAT BOONE: But, you know, the best helmet in the world isn’t going to help you if you get hit by a train.
SANDY: Pat, you must be talking about the song that started it all – “Teen Angel”, by Mark Dinning.
PAT BOONE: What a compelling story, told in a concise two minutes and twenty-three seconds. The car stalls on the railroad tracks. The guy pulls the girl out and everyone is safe.
SANDY: A happy ending, right?
PAT BOONE: Not so fast Sandy, remember this in “Blood on the Highway” – let’s see what happens: (song plays)
That fateful night the car was stalled
Upon the railroad track
I pulled you out and we were saved
But you went running back
Teen angel, can you hear me?
Teen angel, can you see me?
Are you somewhere up above?
And I am still your own true love?
What was it you were looking for that took your life that night?
They said they found my high school ring clutched in your fingers tight
SANDY: Didn’t see that one coming.
PAT BOONE: Neither did she, Sandy.
SANDY: Pulverized by a 50 ton locomotive – that had to hurt.
PAT BOONE: And yet she still managed to hold on to that high school ring.
SANDY: A lot of NFL teams would love to have a wide receiver like that.
PAT BOONE: I’ll say – and once you get your hands on this collection we’re sure you’re never gonna want to let go. In fact we’re so sure, we’ll give you your money back if you decide for any reason that this isn’t the best collection of teenage death songs that you’ve ever heard. You just pay for shipping and handling.
SANDY: And “Blood on the Highway” is only the beginning.
(The photo of the CDs and the call-in number re-appear on the screen.)
NARRATOR: Order now and you’ll also get “Watery Graves”, a collection of timeless tunes about teens who traded in their high school lockers for Davy Jones’ locker. Songs like this one from Dickey Lee: (song plays)
I hear a neighbor telling my father
He says a girl name of Patches was found
Floating face down in that dirty old river
That flows by the coal yards in Old Shanty Town
Patches, oh what can I do
I swear I'll always love you
It may not be right
But I'll join you tonight
Patches I'm coming to you
(The screen returns to the malt shop)
SANDY: Sounds like they were deeply in love.
PAT BOONE: Yeah, a little too deep.
SANDY: And thanks to our illustrated liner notes you’ll almost be able to feel the terror of a drowning teen: the way the throat spasms in a desperate attempt to keep water out of the lungs until finally the person loses consciousness, the throat relaxes and water floods the lungs sealing the deal.
PAT BOONE: Yeah, it’s a horrible way to die, but it makes for great music. Who can ever forget “Running Bear”, or “Ode to Billie Joe”?
SANDY: And let’s not forget your own contribution to the genre, Pat.
PAT BOONE: Sandy, in 1961, I was lucky enough to hit the charts with this one: (song plays)
Moody River more deadly
Than the vainest knife
Moody river your muddy water
Took my baby's life
SANDY: Who knew you had that in you, Pat? After all, you had such a squeaky clean image.
PAT BOONE: Well, I guess we all got swept up in the craze, or at least carried away by its undertow.
SANDY: While drowning and motor vehicle accidents are fine for suicide or accidental deaths, when it comes to murder, sometimes you need more expeditious methods.
PAT BOONE: Good point, Sandy, when your woman’s been doing you wrong, the easiest solution is the good old-fashioned hand gun.
SANDY: And who better to illustrate that point than the late great Jimi Hendrix: (song plays)
Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun of yours?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin' with that gun in your hand, oh
I'm goin' down to shoot my old lady
You know I caught her messin' 'round with another man
PAT BOONE: I guess the moral of that one is - if you cheat on Jimi, you’re gonna get smoked.
SANDY: Whether it’s getting a little on the side, or shootin’ craps in the alley, you cheat and, as the kids say, someone’s bound to pop a cap in your ass.
PAT BOONE: True dat- let’s see what Lloyd Price has to say about it: (song plays)
Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so bad
'Till the bullet came through Billy and it broke the bartender's glass
SANDY: You just don’t hear songs of that ‘caliber’ anymore. But now, Time Life has assembled them all on one CD called “Take That, Bitch: Songs of Revenge”, another CD in the “Death and Dismemberment” collection.
PAT BOONE: You know, the great thing about this CD is that these songs will allow you to vicariously experience the satisfaction of exacting bloody revenge on cheating spouses and cheating craps players without having to get blood on your clothes or risk jail time.
SANDY: In 1973, Jim Croce mixed cheating spouses and cheating craps players together in one song. I’ll bet you can guess what happened: (song plays)
Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them from the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone
PAT BOONE: Good luck putting Leroy back together.
SANDY: Putting a collection of these great hits together could be hard work too - if you had to do it on your own, that is. It could take years and costs hundreds of dollars. But luckily, Time Life has done the hard work for you. All you need to do is to pick up the phone now.
(The photo of the CD collection and the call-in number reappear)
NARRATOR: Yes, you can get “Blood on the Highway”, “Watery Graves” and “Take That, Bitch” all for just four easy payments of $19.99. And if you order in the next 10 minutes we’ll throw in this bonus CD, “Subterranean Suffocation” absolutely free. “Subterranean Suffocation” contains all of the songs about coal mining disasters that made the fifties and sixties so memorable.
(The screen returns to the malt shop)
SANDY: I didn’t realize there were so many songs about coal mining disasters, Pat
PAT BOONE: Before government regulations, OSHA, and unions, coal mines were essentially crypts waiting to happen. Nowadays you have to go to Chile or China to experience that kind of danger.
SANDY: I guess you’re right, Pat. I rarely hear about coal mining disasters on the news these days.
PAT BOONE: I suppose that’s all for the best Sandy, but still, there is something a little romantic about being trapped underground, your oxygen supply running low, wondering if anyone is coming to save you.
SANDY: Situations that were tailor-made for heroic ballads, like this one: (song plays)
With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)
PAT BOONE: Yeah, that one was recorded by my old friend Jimmy Dean.
SANDY: Pat, is that the same Jimmy Dean who makes the sausages?
PAT BOONE: The very same, Sandy. Coal mining disaster songs helped launch a number of careers. Did you know that before they sang about Stayin’ Alive, the Bee Gees had a song about being buried alive? (song plays)
I keep straining my ears to hear a sound
Maybe someone is digging underground
or have they given up and all gone home to bed
thinking those who once existed must be dead
Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones
SANDY: I did not know that.
PAT BOONE: And Sandy, do you remember Rupert Holmes, the guy who wrote The Pina Colada Song?
SANDY: I’ll say – that might just be the worst song of all time.
PAT BOONE: Not so fast, my friend. In 1970, he wrote a song called “Timothy”. Check out these lyrics: (song plays)
Hungry as hell no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat
Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, "I'll have a swig
And then there's some for you."
Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?
SANDY: What are you telling me, Pat? They ate Timothy?
PAT BOONE: Well, let’s listen on and find out: (song plays)
I must have blacked out just around then
'Cause the very next thing that I could see
Was the light of the day again
My stomach was full as it could be
And nobody ever got around
To finding Timothy
SANDY: Oh my God, I think I’m going to be sick.
Sandy begins to retch into a garbage can, as screen fades to an illustration of the CD set and a call-in number.
NARRATOR: And think of how sick you’ll be if you miss this chance to own all of these songs for just four easy payments of $19.99. Call the number on your screen now. Operators are standing by.
Camera pans out on Sandy as she continues to vomit. Screen gradually fades to black as the voice of the Time Life Announcer is heard.
ANNOUNCER: The preceding has been a presentation of Time Life Music.
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As an insomniac, I've become somewhat of a connoisseur of the late-night infomercial. For you youngsters out there, yes, those are actual song lyrics and the actual artists.
and 2 member cents.
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