Saturday, June 4

More Fun With Lieber & Stoller & The Remote

So, this week Comedy Central changes the start time for The Daily Show rerun. You may recall that we already don't know what time it is in Indiana anyway, which makes this sort of thing is doubly troubling. The last TDS rerun of the day is the one we traditionally catch chez Riley, since it's the one we can watch together. And I watch Jeopardy! of course. Suddenly my hour of teevee viewing is a solid block, and I had to adjust evening chores, especially the outdoor ones because while there's enough light to work a half hour or more after 8 PM the bugs are getting pretty bad. So after Jeopardy! now I pick up the guitar, and my Poor Wife, freed just this week from educating our youth, picks up the remote, which is the only instrument she plays, though she's fast enough on the damn thing that Django would have to sweat to accompany her.

Anyways, she runs over the end of The Blues Brothers. They're doing "Jailhouse Rock" in the final scene. "Stop!" I yell. Now, it is physically impossible to actually catch her on a single channel and get her to stop there. What you aim at is going past no more than three or four, so you can figure out where she was if necessary. Because she never has any idea what channel she's on. It's like keeping a soccer ball in bounds, or stopping on ice. I talked her back to AMC and said, "Turn it up and wait for Aretha."

It's pure magic. They keep singing "Jailhouse Rock" as the credits roll, and the guest stars take four bars under their names. Since they're listed aphabetically, James Brown takes the first four, then Cab Calloway, then Ray, and since the song is basically a 12-bar blues, Aretha winds up with the last four ("Everybody in the whole cell block/ Was dancin' to the Jailhouse Rock"). Contrary to the running gag, this may be the one part of the production God actually took a hand in.

The melody is a sort of troglodyte shuffle, with a lot of sideways steps. When it gets to Aretha it's supposed to start on the II (the note just above the key), resolve that to the III, then head back for home with a little back step to the VII before coming to rest. But Aretha starts on the key, uncorks the II and immediately bends the VII and heads off in the opposite direction. It's like a dam has busted, like she senses this great kinetic force, reaches down and pulls the pin that detonates the whole thing. In four throwaway bars.

"Oh. My. God." was the Poor Wife's comment. "Guess how many notes Mariah Carey would have crammed in there," said I.


Anonymous said...

so mrs riley is the one who channel surfs, and you don't.

interesting reversal of gender cliches there.

i bet she thinks the three stooges are comic geniuses.

and doghouse -- remember back in the '60s, when channel 6 had the two hours, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays, of three stooges cartoons?

i do.

The Phnom Penh said...

Here in Cambodia, the only TDS I get is a weekly half-hour "best of" on CNN (yes, really). CNN keeps changing the time, and that, coupled with daylight savings time and the fact that CNN never advertises what time it's on, means I often miss it. And I even have control of the remote!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we must export TDS. Our German exchange student went back home in February and told us that he misses it. He sometimes catches the CNN version, too, but he knows the real thing is better.