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My Shakespeareisha Mamma

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May 3, 2005

This week, a tribute to Mom on for Mother's Day (May 15th) and the second half of my Shakespeare's Birthday show that wasn't broadcast last week due to technical difficulties.

Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Saturday Nite Gun Mart Give Us a Break Proctor and Bergman I hear they're opening some new superstores in Florida.
Mom and Dad We're Only in it For the Money Mothers of Invention Here's the first of two acerbic views of mom (and, for that matter, dad) from the late 1960s.
Stranded in Time The United States of America The United States of America This one is actually more melancholy that acerbic. The recent re-issue of this essential psychedelic classic includes several previously unavailable tracks and some good background information on Joe Byrd and the rest of the band.
Occupation: Foole Occupation: Foole George Carlin This is just the section in which Carlin talks about "the dozens" and how is group didn't have a "no mothers" rule.
Mother and Son Retrospect Mike Nichols and Elaine May It's classic Nichols and May as a mother nags her rocket scientist son.
A Call from Long Island You Don't Have to be Jewish Betty Walker, Arlene Golonka OK, it's an old joke but a good one.
Patrol Boys Retail Comedy at Wholesale Prices Stevens and Grdnic It's not just a job, it's an ego trip. Could this have been how Baby Blunt got his start?
Poor John Vaudeville Joan Morris and William Bolcom The cliché image of the mother who regards no woman as good enough for her son goes back a long way; it was already well established when Henry E. Pether and Fred W. Leigh wrote this comic song in 1906.
Mother Machree Lost Empires (OS 1986) Joseph Ward Lost Empires is the seven-part serial produced by Granada TV from the novel by J.B. Priestley, "being Richard Herncastle's account of his life on the variety stage from November 1913 to August 1914". Included here for obvious reasons. The song is was a sentimental favorite in the early years of the 20th century.
Momma, Momma, Momma I Can Get It For You Wholesale (OC 1962) Elliot Gould and Lillian Roth Another country heard from in this musical, which marked Barbara Streisand's Broadway debut. As a side note, Lillian Roth was the legendary performer whose autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow, was made into the 1955 Susan Hayward vehicle.
Mama, Mama The Most Happy Fella (OC 1956) Robert Weede Tony is the middle-aged owner of a winery who carries on a mail-order romance with a much younger woman. The woman, Rosabella, is shocked when she first meets Tony but grows to love him anyway in what is probably Frank Loesser's greatest work for the stage. The 1956 production ran for two years and has been revived frequently since. IN this song from Act II, Tony asks his late mother to look down on him from heaven and share his happiness.
Voice Prints of the '60s Deaf Friends Radio Show The Firesign Theatre Yes, they did take away our music, but now you can buy it back!
The Glamorous Life A Little Night Music (OC 1973) Judy Kahan, Glynis Johns, Hermione Gingold, Ensemble Desiree's daughter exchanges letters with her actress mother, who is always on tour, while Desiree's mother wishes her daughter were more conventional and the vocal quartet provides commentary (as they do throughout the show). Based on the film Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music is probably Stephen Sondheim's most commercially successful show.
The Glamorous Life A Little Night Music (OC 1973) Elaine Tomkinson, This song is a bonus cut on the CD re-issue of the original cast recording, but it's actually from the 1978 film version (which misguided effort starred Elizabeth Taylor; Leonard Maltin describes the movie as "laughably stilted"). In this version of the song, Desiree's daughter reflects on the ups and downs of having a mother who is always on tour.
If Mama Was Married Sondheim: A Musical Tribute (OC 1973) Alice Playten and Virginia Sandifut June and Louise fantasize about how nice it would be if Mama Rose would just marry the long-suffering Herbie and settle down. Fat chance. The song is from Gypsy (1959), which has Sondheim lyrics and Jule Styne music.
Oedipus Rex An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer Tom Lehrer "There once was a man named Oedipus Rex / You may have heard about his odd complex / His name appears in Freud's index / Because he loved his mother!"
American Safety Institute: Remember to Brush The Best of the National Lampoon Radio Hour Chevy Chase Make sure your kids brush their teeth after eating colorful mushrooms!
Onion Radio News 33 The Onion's Finest News Reporting Doyle Redland Collectable Plate Industry Calls For Tragic Death Of Barbara Streisand. I can think of some other good nominees...
Part 2 Shakespeare's Lost Comedie The Firesign Theatre The Archbishop tries to cook something up with Marie; comic gravediggers try to exchange obscure jokes; Prince Edmund tries to boink Marie, which tries Edmund Edmund's patience; Edmund Edmund tries to take the Pflegmish crown in battle but by the time the dust settles, Prince Edmund is in charge. I think.
What a Piece of Work is Man Hair (OC 1968) Ronald Dyson and Walter Harris As it happens, these lyrics are also from Hamlet.
Rap Othello The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show The Reduced Shakespeare Company It's Shakespeare's tragedy in under three minutes. Plus, it's got a good beat and you can dance to it!
Hamlet The Carthy Chronicles Martin Carthy Hamlet is longer than Othello, so Carthy takes just under five minutes. The song is by Adam McNaughton, who decided that you could tell the entire story of Shakespeare's play in three verses as long as nobody minded how long each verse is.
Hamlet Spaced out - The Best of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner William Shatner Shatner hyperventilates his way through (roughly) the first 2/3 of Hamlet's famous soliloquy. This is originally from his (in)famous Transformed Man LP.
A Great Actor Matching Tie and Handkerchief Monty Python's Flying Circus It's not just about remembering the words. You also have to get them in the right order.
Where is the Life that Late I Led? Kiss Me, Kate (OC 1949) Alfred Drake Kiss Me, Kate is a musical about a company producing a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Here Drake, as Petruccio, has fond memories of bachelorhood.
Brush Up Your Shakespeare Kiss Me, Kate (OC 1949) Harry Clark, Jack Diamond While hanging out backstage in hopes of "leaning on" a cast member with gambling debts, a pair of tough guys express their appreciation for The Bard.
He and She The Rogers and Hart CD Joan Morris and Max Morath; William Bolcom (piano) Originally from The Boys from Syracuse (1938) - a Rogers and Hart comedy that uses the plot (but only one line of dialog) from The Comedy of Errors - this song takes an ironic look at some "successful" marriages.
Darn that Dream The Broadway Musicals Cut-Outs Darius DeHaas The song is from Swinging the Dream (1939), a swing version of Midsummer Night's Dream with an all-black cast including Louis Armstrong, Butterfly McQueen and Jackie "Moms" Mabley. It only ran 13 performances. Today there'd probably be lines around the block waiting for tickets.

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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