Song & Memory: Rebel Chef Anthony Bourdain is known for his raucous ways in the world of the professional kitchen, detailed in his book “Kitchen Confidential.” We asked him to put away his pans and think back to when he was a kid — is there a song from childhood that brings it all back? Bourdain can pinpoint his desire sex-drug-rock n’ roll start to a single song: “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. (The Song & Memory series was produced for PRI Weekend America.)
Musicians in their own words:Trudy Pitts and her husband, drummer Bill “Mr C.” Carney do a first-person duet. Trudy is an unsung hero of the Hammond B-3 electric organ. With her husband, Mr C, they’ve played with the Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry and Pat Martino. Their 50s R&B band, the Hi-Tones, featured a young sax player: name of John Coltrane. Their most rewarding musical partnership, though, is the one they share with each other. (MITOW stories were produced for NPR and are archived at PRX)
In 1955, LaLanne swam 1.23 miles from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. He later told an interviewer that the worst part about the ordeal was not being able to do jumping jacks during the swim.
In 1974, LaLanne turned 60, but he showed the world that, for him, age was just a number by once again swimming from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. However, this time, he was not only handcuffed but also shackled. Oh, and he towed a 1,000-pound boat.
LaLanne’s last public stunt was in 1994, when he celebrated his 80th birthday by getting handcuffed and shackled in order to fight strong winds and currents and swim 1.5 miles while towing 80 boats with 80 people from the Queensway Bay Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.
The Maddox Bros. & Rose were America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band. In the 1930s, 40s & 50s, the four brothers and sister/singer Rose paraded thru America in their colorful Cadillacs and cowboy outfits. “Their costumes make Liberace look like a plucked chicken,” said Tennisee Ernie Ford.
Born to sharecroppers in Boaz, Alabama, they rode the rails and hitch hiked to California in 1933, where they formed the band. Their sound was both old-timey and western swing; their rhythms helped plant the roots of rockabilly. Ginna Allison’s sound-portrait features interviews with Rose Maddox, Tennesse Ernie Ford, Cliffie Stone, and her co-prodcuer on this piece, TJ Meekins of KVMR-Nevada City CA. (Images: Maddox Bros. & Rose: Myspace, Rockin’ County Style)
A preacher’s son, met in a North Carolina thrift shop, comes over the house to play guitar, and talk Jesus, G chords, and Gilligan’s Island. Carmen’s grandmother would not approve. Produced by Jay Allison for This American Life (PRX).
From the Library of Congress album Folk Music and Song, “Chorus and Dance,” rung and played by Rais Mahamad ben Mohammed and ensemble, musicians of the Haha tribe in Tamanar; recorded by Paul Bowles in Essaouira, Morocco, August 8, 1959 (1:11 mp3): More…
Paul Simon is offering a free download of “Getting Ready For Christmas Day.” It’s off his upcoming album So Beautiful Or So What (Spring 2011; Hear Music/Concord Music Group) and samples a 1941 speech by American Christian preacher and gospel singer, Reverend J.M. Gates:
For Veterans Day, Vietnam, Korean, and World War Two vets, recorded by StoryCorps, along with a Marine Sergeant’s recent “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” discharge. And we plug into the iPods of active-duty troops in Iraq (photo gallery), asking them what they’re listening to, and what their lives are like:
Bob Harlee served as an Army Chaplain for 18 years. In 1965, Harllee was sent to Vietnam, and he had to leave his wife and three children behind. One of those children, Carol, now 47, recently asked her father about his life in those days. As part of the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Ky., Harllee had to reconcile his role as a spiritual guide within a unit whose job it was to destroy the enemy. Still, Harllee says, his task was clear: “to encourage everybody to keep their faith strong, even though they’re in the midst of the most terrible thing that mankind can bring upon itself.” Bob Harllee died in Charlottesville, Va., several months after his interview session. He was 73.
Soldier Soundtrack, Iraq- Song: “Send in the Clowns” by Barbara Streisand from The Broadway Album. “They’re not really geared towards a democratic or republic sort of society… the biggest issue will be trying to keep Iran or Syria from moving into the power vacuum when we leave…”
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson publicly debates FOX News host Sean Hannity. The spectacle took place inside a chasm called Us versus Them. Produced in 2007 for This American Life; music: Rickie Lee Jones, “Nobody Knows My Name” from Sermon On Exposition Boulevard.
Leo Grillo locates lost pets in Los Angeles. He cares for animals, thousands of them. Today, his organization, D.E.L.T.A Rescue (Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals), is the world’s largest animal rescue shelter.
A mid-90s visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Everyone knows this one of the places where the government developed the first atom bomb during World War II. But our host was interested in Chaos Theory, an elaborate mathematical description of turbulent systems like the weather, and possibly the stock market, and who knows what all else. Chaos Theory was all the rage in Los Alamos then. Along with the theory, it turned out there was also real chaos in Los Alamos. It was slinking up and down the streets late at night in the form of a feral dog. Produced for the radio series SoundPrint.
Lennon’s life, in own words, from his hundreds of interviews. Accompanied by music, outtakes, antics and poetics — singing, talking, and testifying about peace, family, and art.
Produced at KGLT-Bozeman with mix help from Colter Langan. Archive recordings are courtesy of Yoko Ono, the BBC, the CBC, Chicago’s Museum Of Broadcast Communications, Group W Productions, Rolling Stone Magazine, Apple, Capital, EMI, and Polydor Records.
WONSAPONATIME there was two Ballons called Jock and Yono. They were strictly in love-bound to happen in a million years. They were together man. Unfortunatimetable they both seemed to have previous experience — which kept calling them one way oranother (you know howitis). But they battled on against overwhelming oddites, includo some of there beast friends. Being in love they cloong even more together man — but some of the poisonessmonster of outrated buslodedshithrowers did stick slightly and tey occaasionaly had to resort to the drycleaners. Luckily this did not kill them and they werent banned from the olympic games. They lived hopefully every after, and who could blame them… —Lennon, Skywriting By Word of Mouth
Members of the generation jolted by Lennon’s death recall how they heard the news and how deeply this ex-Beatle’s life affected theirs (where were you when you heard?)
Voices: Scott MacNichol, Daniel Callis, Martin Goldsmith, Jane Blume, Mark Weber, Jim Palmer, John Scariano, Bonnie Renfro, Mary Oishi, Rob Raucci, and Emily Zambello. Produced at Cedar Creek Studios and KUNM-Albuquerque. PRX has a half-hour version of “The Day John Lennon Died.”
Miles has the wrong body. He was born a woman, Megan. After 15 years of serious depression and confusion about his place in the world, at age 28, he decided to make a change. He chose the name Miles and began his slow, difficult transition into manhood. All along the way, he carried an audio recorder with him. This is his story. Produced for Transom (available at PRX); edited by Jay Allison.
For most of his high school career, Louis robbed people: for money, and for thrills. He never got caught. Then, in his senior year, he decided to stop. Louis talks to friends and family, and to himself, about why he was a criminal, and why he needs to change. Produced for Transom (also at PRX) and the 826NYC writing center.
Public Historian Joey Plaster spent a year gathering 70+ interviews from people experiencing Polk Street’s transition from a working class queer neighborhood to an upscale entertainment district. Polk Street’s scene predates the modern gay rights movement. It was a world unto itself, ten blocks of low rent hotels, bars and liquor stores, all sandwiched in between the gritty Tenderloin, City Hall, and the ritzy Nob Hill: a home invented by people who had no other home.
For decades, the street had been a national destination for queer youth and transgender women, many of them fleeing abusive or unwelcoming homes. But by the mid-1990s, the last of the working class bars that formed the backbone of the Polk community were being replaced by a new bloc of mid-income businesses and residents.
Long-term Polk residents were incredibly emotional about these changes. Many considered the neighborhood to be their first real home. Now they saw their family’s gathering places evaporating. The conflict was sometimes dramatic: owners of one gay bar claimed that the new business association forced them off the street. A gay activist group made national news when they plastered the street with “wanted” posters featuring a photo of the new association’s president.
These intense reactions suggested a rich history, but I found that it had not been recorded. I feared it would be lost with the scene. I had prior experience as an oral historian. This was my first effort to find overlap with radio, which I’ve long felt is the best medium for broadcasting intimate, personal stories from “marginal” populations. —Joey Plaster