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Patti Smith’s review of ‘The Beach Boys Love You’

The Beach Boys Love You, from 1977, is not everyone’s favorite Beach Boys LP, but it is Bucks Burnett’s. The onetime manager of Tiny Tim believes Love You is of a piece with another ‘77 record that nearly everyone regards as a classic, David Bowie’s Low. Burnett wrote in a recent Facebook post:

My bizarre theory is that the two albums are almost interchangeable. Here it is, ugly medicine in a plastic spoon; this was Brian Wilson’s Berlin trilogy, in one album. Low is Bowie’s Love You.

If you aren’t familiar with The Beach Boys Love You, it’s called that because it was dedicated to Brian Wilson by the other members of the band. One might question whether the album was really the other Beach Boys’ to make a present of in the first place, since its major selling point was that Brian Wilson himself not only produced it, but had written or co-written every song. (“Happy birthday, honey. Here’s that delicious cake you made!”) But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Many of the songs—especially those credited to Brian alone—are marked by an unconventional approach to lyric writing, compared to the way the art is generally practiced by the human people of the planet Earth. Take the often-mocked (but lovely) “Johnny Carson”:

He sits behind his microphone
(John-ny Car-son)
He speaks in such a manly tone
(John-ny Car-son)

Ed McMahon comes on and says “Here’s Johnny!”
Every night at 11:30, he’s so funny.
“It’s nice to have you on the show tonight
I’ll see your act in Vegas—outta sight!”

When guests are boring, he fills up the slack
(John-ny Car-son)
The network makes him break his back
(John-ny Car-son)

Ed McMahon comes on and says “Here’s Johnny!”
Every night at 11:30, he’s so funny.
Don’t you think he’s such a natural guy?
The way he’s kept it up could make you cry.

Who’s a man that we admire?
Johnny Carson is a real live wire.

I think Bucks might be onto something. As far as I can tell, Beach Boys fans who hate this record just can’t stand the words, while I find them oddly affecting. Who but Brian Wilson could have seen his own body torn on the gears of showbiz in the image of Johnny Carson, of all people, or heard “such a manly tone” in the Tonight Show host’s voice? Is the objection that these lyrics give too clear a view into Wilson’s pain and confusion? Whatever: I don’t recall anyone disputing this album’s musical merits, and in my opinion, reconciling oneself to lyrics such as “Honkin, honkin’ down the gosh-darn highway / Tryin’, tryin’ to get past them cars” and “Love is a woman / so tell her she smells good tonight” is an excellent form of spiritual discipline.

Patti Smith looked into this controversy at the time, and “you’re into it or you’re not” was her conclusion. From the October 1977 issue of Hit Parader, here is the confirmed Johnny Carson fan’s review of The Beach Boys Love You:

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’: Watch Tiny Tim’s incredible late-night disco trainwreck

Tiny Tim was one of the great oddballs of American popular music. Though viewed by most as a ‘60s novelty act, he was well known in the Greenwich Village folk scene for his encyclopedic knowledge of music from the early 20th Century. Bob Dylan once remarked of his contemporary, “No one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim.”

The singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist discovered his falsetto in the early ‘50s and based his performing career around it and his repertoire of songs from the 1910s to 1930s.

His unusual act lead him to a career-making guest spot on Laugh-In in 1968. He was signed to Reprise records and had a surprise hit with “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” which reached 17 on the Billboard chart.

Though his novelty seemed to wear off in terms of record sales after the release of his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, he became a staple of TV talk shows . He was famously married to “Miss Vicki” on The Tonight Show in 1969, setting what was then a record, with 40 million viewers watching.

Tiny Tim made a return to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1979 for this bizarre performance of Rod Stewart’s disco hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.”

Tim sings the verses in his trademark falsetto, but switches to an Elvis-like lower register for the choruses—all the while pantomiming a neurotic nervousness. Halfway through the number, Tim loses his timing and gets ahead of himself with the vocal. Doc Severinsen and the band do their best to adjust the arrangement to the version Tim has in his head. The number devolves into a strip-tease, with Tiny Tim gyrating on the floor (years before Madonna turned heads at the MTV video awards!)

It’s absolutely bizarre and incredibly awesome. He goes from Woody Allen to Iggy Pop in the span of three minutes.

Carson looks completely befuddled by the end of the performance and fittingly quips “there’s just… there’s just… nothing… nothing to be said.”

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Groucho Marx roasts Johnny Carson, 1968
11:25 am


Johnny Carson
Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx “honors” Johnny Carson at his Friars’ Club roast, broadcast on The Kraft Music Hall program on October 23, 1968. Six years prior (October 1, 1962), Marx introduced Carson on his very first Tonight Show.

Others there to “honor” the talk show king were Don Rickles, New York’s then-mayor John Lindsay, Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, Dick Cavett and host Alan King.

Carson gets roasted by Dean Martin, Redd Foxx, Truman Capote and many others after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
That time when Shelley Winters dumped whisky on Oliver Reed’s head for being a sexist ass, 1975

When two of the best and most unpredictable talk show guests in all of television history—boisterous Oscar-winning actress Shelley Winters and alcoholic Brit leading man, Oliver Reed—ended up as consecutive bookings on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on September 25, 1975, it seemed like an occasion where sparks might fly. And they did. At least something flew. It was a clash of the talkshow titans.

Winters was there because, well, because she was always on 70s talk shows (and gave good value as a guest, you can see how she makes Johnny’s job easy during her segment) while Reed, his first time on the program, was there to promote his role in Ken Russell’s Tommy. Winters comes out first and makes some cougar-ish observations about younger men. She’s her normal charming self. Then Reed is introduced, who declares that he’s “Quite extraordinary”—and I think it’s also fairly safe to assume completely drunk out of his fucking gourd—before going off on an offensive tangent against women’s liberation and feminism causing an incensed Winters to dump her drink squarely on his head.

While she’s still on the couch, Winters gets in a LOL adlib at Reed’s expense that demonstrates why she was such a popular fixture on talk shows. Watch for it.

via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A New York Doll, Preparation H and Johnny Carson

David Johansen, then at the height of his fame as Buster Poindexter, made a 1988 appearance on The Tonight Show and charmed the shit out of Johnny Carson and the audience.

Johansen was made for this kind of thing. Perfect timing, perfect delivery, a smooth operator. The Robert Goulet story is hilarious and Carson can’t help but burst out laughing even at the expense of one of his regular guests.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Johnny Carson weighs in on Paul McCartney’s 1980 pot bust
05:39 am


Paul McCartney
Johnny Carson

Me Wings have been clipped.
This month marks the 33rd anniversary of Paul McCartney getting busted for 7.7 ounces of pot in Japan. A half pound of pot! What was he planning to do? Have a smoke-in with Godzilla and Gamera?

I was out in New York and I had all this really good grass. We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there. This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.

I didn’t try to hide [the pot]. I had just come from America and still had the American attitude that marijuana isn’t that bad. I didn’t realize just how strict the Japanese attitude is.”

Perhaps Paul’s bag of pot wasn’t the real issue with the Japanese. Maybe they just wanted to fuck with the guy who did this:
After spending nine days in jail, McCartney was released on January 25th.

Johnny Carson had a bit of fun at McCartney’s expense in one of his monologues which aired on January 17, 1980.

Thanks to Philip Girvan.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Ayn Rand meets Johnny Carson on ‘The Tonight Show,’ 1967
01:51 pm


Ayn Rand
Johnny Carson

Many videotapes of Johnny Carson’s 1960s episodes were lost in the fire of NBC’s archives, but at least part of Ayn Rand’s first appearance on The Tonight Show (she was on three times over the years, clearly Carson was a fan) has survived and has been posted on YouTube.

Apparently, Carson snubbed his other guests that evening and kept Rand on for the entire 90 minute show. Topics include raising children, religion, the military draft and the Vietnam War.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Media Reacts To Conan’s Same-Sex Wedding News

Johnny Carson’s comic psychic “Carnac the Magnificent” merely held an envelope to his head, but Conan O’Brien? He really pushes the envelope. As you’ll see.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment