Friday, October 05, 2007

And He Used To Take Pictures of Them Without Any Clothes On

These are the lyrics to a song by the great T-Bone Burnett.

Like a lot of great songs, until recently, it's been OOP.

To "record collectors" and on eBay, that means "Out of Print" which means you can't buy it new. Used, somewhere perhaps, or you could wait for someone to re-issue it (as Rhino Handmade has done on this one).

I bought "Proof Through The Night" on vinyl when it came out in 1983 and still have it. I also saw him that year in Chapel Hill at The (old, old) Cat's Cradle with Kevin, my friend from across the dorm room hall from me. It was Kevin that "made" me go...

T-Bone was late. And it was the end of Spring in North Carolina, which meant that it was about 100 degrees in the club. We were all talking loudly and restlessly drinking beer in order to keep us "hydrated" - when from the front of the club (the entrance to the street) came some familiar guitar chords.

T-Bone waltzed in, playing Roger Miller's "King of the Road" which he sang as he made his way through he audience and onto the stage as he hit the last chord of the song.

It's one of the finest entrances I've ever seen. And he played "Hefner and Disney" which quickly became one of my favorites from the album.

This year I saw T-Bone at Town Hall here on 43rd Street, post "Oh, Brother..." and a brilliant producing career. It made me kind of sad when he just walked out onto the huge stage to thunderous applause from a bunch of old fat bald guys and their Cohen Bros.-loving wives...and I can't even remember if he played "Hefner and Disney" or not.

“Hefner and Disney” goes like this. Read while you gaze upon my friend Jynx, also from a long time ago…

"Somewhere between Never Neverland and Wonderland
In a land called Never Wonderland
There lived a beautiful wealthy young divorcee
With a checkered past and a bad memory
Who should probably remain nameless
And men traveled from far and wide and try to win her hand
And she took in stragglers from all over the known world

Her newest guests were (as her mother called them)
"The latest Russians to defect"
One's name was Hefner
The other's name was Disney
Disney smoked a pipe and was very philosophical
He was constantly surrounded by go-go girls
And he used to take pictures of them without any clothes on
And sell them to the neighborhood children

Hefner on the other hand was not so introspective
He loved a good story just like anybody else
In fact he loved the myths of Never Wonderland so much
That he made elaborate molded plastic sculptures
Of the characters in the myths
Then ... he would put them out in the garden
Until .... he had built a whole ‘nother land in Never Wonderland
Which he called Hefnerland

And the neighborhood children loved them
They had lots of fun playing in Hefnerland
And looking at all Disney's go-go pictures
Because they didn't know any better
And they didn't know any worse
But the beautiful young wealthy divorcee thought
That they were only after her money
Sometimes she even wished they would go back to Russia

(But between you and me they were really dupes of the Wicked King
Who wanted to rob the children of their dreams)"


mnmjr. said...

Actually, Sony has a lovely two disc set called "Twenty Twenty - The Essential T Bone Burnett." "Hefner and Disney" right smack in the middle of disc two.

Gary M Photo said...

Melvin's right, but most (all?) of the "Proof" cuts on that compilation are re-worked or re-recorded and some lyrics were changed. H&D was remixed with a weird echo and unnecessary embellishments. You can practically hear him shouting "I'm a famous producer dammit, it should sound PRODUCED!" I was vastly disappointed by that, but I appreciate you letting me know about the Rhino Handmade thing... I think I actually sent them a suggestion on that years ago. A little pricey, but I'll probably spring to upgrade from the MP3s I made from my vinyl copy a couple years ago.

As your story relates JMG, there's a real sad irony about the guy who wrote such great songs about the decadent side of Hollywood who ended up getting co-opted by the movies and selling himself out directly to them.

Silvana said...

Well said.