Tuesday, April 29, 2008
How much is Tina Louise worth?
If you know eBay, or local record stores, you know that "movie star sings" albums from Lizabeth Scott, Rhonda Fleming, Goldie Hawn and others rarely reach $20.Goofier and scarcer items, like Anthony Quinn and Jack Webb lps don't generate $50.
Yet..."Time for Tina" topped out at $971 on eBay!
The album is even on CD, in stereo.
Ah...but that's the clue. "Real" collectors don't want CD stereo or mp3. The seller's vinyl was "deep groove mono," and there were six bidders at the $500 mark before a final few snipered it up to nearly $1000. Oooh "deep groove mono" from an obscure label known for classical music! The album was bought NOT for Tina Louise, but either to complete an "I own everything the label did" collection or to add to a "mmm, deep groove mono" pile. The album's condition had to be "minty." A reflection, perhaps, of the buyer. Another seller, seeing the hoopla, instantly tossed a vinyl stereo version on eBay thinking he'd cash in. Nope, he was as lost as the castaways on Gilligan's Island.
Two bonus tracks have been added...the two songs from an actress who popped onto the scene just a few years after "Gilligan's Island" left the air. It's Linda Thorson, who hoped to have a second career as a pop singer...after realizing that replacing Diana Rigg on "The Avengers" was not getting her rave reviews as an actress. You'll hear, here along with Tina, "Tara King" singing "Here I Am" and "Bad Time for Loving Me."
TINA AND TARA
Is she growling and moaning because she's found her first white pubic hair?
Is she telling a waiter she's found white hairs in her soup?
All I can tell you for sure, is that you're listening to a p'ansori, a Korean form of folk chant. The intent could be anything from telling a story to delivering a shamanist rant...you really have to know a little Korean to be sure. I know a little Korean, but she runs a bakery and was born in the U.S.A. and knows more about Springsteen than p'ansori.
Our singer, Yoojin Chung? Just as Yoko Ono conquered avant garde audiences in Greenwich Village, this singer was able to drop some jaws when she opened hers. She was a hit attraction across the river from Greenwich Village at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival. One critic noted her "sounds from deep in the chest are seasoned with high-pitched wails..." and that she "emits what might be described as Korean soul music."
I think that writer emitted a really bad pun with "Korean soul music," but rather than mash that guy, let's stash "Song of the White Hairs" here for your downloading. It's from her album "The Art of Cosmic Voice." And if you really don't know, the celebs in the photo are Carroll Baker, Emmylou Harris, Steve Martin and Whitey Ford.
Your introduction to: Yoojin Chung.
Congrats to Mindy, sprung from jail and now enjoying Spring. Let's not be too cynical and say she's gone from the frying pain into the fire...just because she's been accused as Roger Clemens' mistress, and nobody knows about her new "download only" album. Perhaps all the publicity (and current denials) of bedding Roger at just 15 and carrying on a ten-year relationship, will get her music back on C&W radio.
McCready's new album is a "download only," and indie. Momentum will be slow. She'll see pennies in royalties since the percentage an artist gets via mp3 file is even worse than it was in the vinyl era. Without a major label's publicist or booking agent, she won't get decent gigs or hear her stuff on the radio, or have it shopped to the folks who use music on TV soundtracks.
She also gets nothing from the download here, but at least only one is being offered. The choice was tough; while "I've Got a Feeling" is catchy, and "For a Good Time Call" is typical of Mindy's minxy side, the download is her ballad "Fine Art of Holding a Woman."
Why? Because it's a deceptive song. First you wonder if it's got a melody. Then you realize Mindy is a damn good singer to find it and breathe life into it. Unlike those "American Idol" types who think rattling their uvulas shows talent, Mindy demonstrates the real skills; smoothly hugging the minor key melody, using emotion over volume, and having the intuition to phrase a line and make it seem more than it is.
If you missed some of the drama in Mindy's life over the past few years, here's a brief timeline of what led up to her doing time:
August 5, 2004, arrested for faking a prescription to buy OxyContin; fined $4,000, sentenced to three years probation.
May 6, 2005, arrested for driving with a suspended license and DUI. She would've been better off if she was jailed because...
May 8, 2005, her ex-boyfriend allegedly broke into her house, and was charged with attempted murder and aggravated burglary.
July 22, 2005, found passed out from an intentional overdose of drugs washed down with alcohol. The attempted suicide was due to the strain of being charged with identity theft, "unlawful imprisonment" and fraud in connection with a murky incident in Arizona the week before. Also, she found out she was pregnant with her violent ex-boyfriend's child.
August 26, 2005, she was arrested for violating probation and visiting Tennessee without permission.
September 23, 2005, amid court proceedings, and trying to handle the problem of her pregnancy and meeting with her ex-boyfriend, she nearly overdosed on antidepressants.
July 19, 2006, she beat the DUI charge but was found guilty of driving with a suspended license. She responded to all of this by releasing a single, "Black and Blue," but there was no major label to take it on.
July 21, 2007, now arguing with her own mother, she's charged with battery on the woman, and resisting arrest. Free on bail, she's caught at an airport in Nashville for violating the terms of probation.
September 14, 2007 she's sentenced to jail.
September 19, 2007, Mindy is chronicled on the illfolks blog with a sample song.
December 30, 2007, she's released from jail.
March 4, 2008, Mindy releases "All for You," via download only, on Amazon.com. It consists mostly of older hits re-done fresh in the studio, but includes some new tracks, too.
April 28, 2008, the New York Daily News reports: "Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two..." a charge a Clemens spokesman instantly denied.
April 29, 2008, Mindy becomes one of the very few to be profiled a second time on the illfolks blog.
Mindy McCready is as good a country-crossover singer as you'll find, from Crystal Gayle to Sara Evans and back. With the right material and the right breaks, Mindy just might stage a comeback, or at least be able to settle down and make a decent living in Branson with a few weeks on the road here and there.
We all download so much that we hear very little. In the days of radio, we might not realize a song was great until we heard it a few times and really got the melody and became familiar with the lyrics. If it doesn't hold you firmly the first time, give this one a second chance.
Mindy McCready The Fine Art of Holding a Woman.
Richard Fagan, the guy who wrote George H.W. Bush's campaign theme song ("Americana," first recorded by Moe Bandy) is a murderer. He killed Cheri Oteri's father, Tom. (You know Cheri from her role as an irritating cheerleader alongside Will Ferrell in a series of SNL sketches.) [Update: April 15, 2011. If a murderer is someone who takes another's life deliberately, then Richard is not a murderer. Just a killer. See the full update below.]
Saturday night (April 26th) ended violently when Gaetano Thomas Oteri got into an argument with Fagan. Oteri co-owned ofmusic.com and managed Richard Fagan's career. They were also roommates.
61 year-old Richard Fagan was liquored up that night and he slashed Oteri's wrist. Police didn't know of this until after they arrested Fagan for DUI and checked his home.
Fagan, who came to Nashville in 1988, tended to write loopy songs for redneck comedians, as well as novelty tracks for major C&W stars. He also could knock off more traditional fare, and his list includes "Be My Baby Tonight" (John Michael Montgomery), "Why Can't We All Just get a Longneck" (Hank Williams Jr.) and "The Good Lord Loves You" (Neil Diamond). "Around Here" was recorded by George Jones, "She's Tough" by Chris LeDoux, "Crime of the Century" by Shania Twain, and "All Over But the Shouting” for Shenandoah.
Fagan grew up in Philadelphia, and it was there that he tried songwriting, helped along by the man who became his manager - Tom Oteri. Together they produced demos and sent them out, and together they ended up in Nashville as partners.
Fagan's publicity release, probably written by the late Mr. Oteri, notes Fagan's "father died when he was 3, and he was raised in the housing projects of South Philadelphia. His mother cleaned homes and offices for a living while her boy ran wild in the streets." Fagan recalled of his teen years, “I had grown up playing early rock ‘n’ roll in South Philly. But by the 1980s, pop had changed so drastically. I was starting to get away from it when new-wave and punk came in. By the time rap came along, the whole landscape had changed. So when I came to Nashville, I thought, ‘Country music is closer to what I grew up with, early rock ‘n’ roll.’ So I think I had good reason to be confident..."
The funny Fagan wrote the “Universal Adjective Song” in 1990 for Pinkard & Bowden, and a bunch of items for Cledus T. Judd, including a lightweight snicker-ode to "Mindy McCready." He co-wrote "“Put the Seat Back Down” for Kacey Jones as well as the obvious "I Miss My Man (but my aim's gettin' better)."
The Philly fool schooled himself well on how to write like a redneck.
His uptempo novelty tune "Sold," was a #1 for John Michael Montgomery. It's about a motormouth moron using a Grundy County auction to babble a "bid" at a pretty girl. Punchline: "We still love to laugh about the way we met that day!" Right, and it's just about as funny and entertaining as a slit wrist.
The tune he wrote for Pinkard and Bowden is better, but the version you'll hear below is pointlessly censored with beeps. And that's f--ked up: "The universal adjective is f--kin' up my life."
The parody song "Mindy McCready" is really just drooling, not fooling, and the Kacey Jones feminist kick in the nuts has these lines: "I miss my man, but my aim's gettin' better. He turned into a pig and left me for a big ol' sow...If I'd a shot him when I first met him, I'd be outta jail by now!" Next stanza, she just missed the guy with...a Ginsu knife.
"Overnight Male," your typically obvious C&W pun-song, was a honky tonk hit for George Strait. "Let me be your mailman and I'll always come through. There's no denyin' come rain or shine I'll deliver my love to you. I do things by the letter, you can put your stamp on me. 'Cause there ain't nobody better for a special delivery." Very clever. Except the songwriter went postal.
Morbid curiosity would have you wondering, "Well, what kind of funny songwriter could a guy be, who turns on his partner and slashes him with a knife on a drunken night?" To quote Poe: "What demon is like alcohol?"
It doesn't say much for songwriter royalties if this guy had to live with his partner and share a place to stay. Now, Fagan's going to be a guest of the state.
PINKARD & BOWDEN
JUDD: Mindy Mcready
(Apr 15, 2011). I just noticed Richard's "fuck you" comment, which led me to wonder, "well, what the fuck is he talking about?" Did he explain WHY he ain't no murderer? Nope, he di-ent. He could've directed everyone to an updated news article where he was ultimately exonerated. So...let's do it for him.
At the time this piece was written, the Fagan-Otero affair was a fairly obscure news story pretty much only of local interest. It was picked up here, because this blog so often reports on oddball novelty songs and obscure singers and songwriters. And, it also would serve to underline the fact that getting drunk is a fucking stupid thing to do, whether you get behind the wheel of a car, or just get into an argument.
When the case finally went before a judge, Fagan was able to convince him that Oteri's murder was in fact just a drunken accident, and that he hadn't aimed the weapon at Oteri's heart or inflected the fatal wound in a way aimed to kill.
It's easy to understand Richard's anger in being called a murderer (as news reports had it at the time...Oteri was...MURDERED...) when perhaps the word is just "killer," or, if George Carlin was around to invent a word, "accidental inflicter of mortality." But yeah, even a drunk driver who kills someone resents being called "killer," as it implies intent...and no remorse.
Below, the story Richard could've forwarded us to, but hell, he was angry and just wanted to offer "the old two-word suggestion," so it's understandable that he didn't feel like adding a link. Here's a link he could've sent:
Here's how it opens:
When songwriter Richard Fagan performs Wednesday evening at Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café, the evening will be wrapped in personal symbolism. An installment in the Bluebird’s annual series of benefits for Alive Hospice, this particular show is dedicated to the late Tom Oteri, a former Alive Hospice volunteer who was Richard’s publisher.
Tom’s April 2008 death, in the aftermath of a fight with Richard, forced Rich — best known for writing John Michael Montgomery’s “Be My Baby Tonight” and “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” — to confront his addiction to alcohol and his perpetual irresponsibility. Wednesday’s performance, with Rob Crosby and “Three Wooden Crosses” songwriter Doug Johnson, marks the first time Richard has performed at the venue since completing rehab, and he’ll no doubt be feeling Tom’s spirit.
Richard and Tom shared a house and had been business partners for 32 years, so when Tom died — apparently, it seemed at the time — by Richard’s hand, it shocked Nashville’s music community. Tom was being treated for a broken rib with fentanyl, an opiate that can create breathing issues. He’d gone through a long stretch of depression, and Richard — unused to seeing his associate in that state of mind — wasn’t dealing with it well. He got high April 26, 2008, on tequila and antidepressants, then got in a fight with Tom that turned physical. In the process, he slashed Tom’s wrist with a knife. They both went into immediate shock over what had happened.
“He basically sat down cross-legged, Indian-style,” Richard says in the home they previously shared. Blood “was pouring very badly. It wasn’t pulsing like an artery. But he said, ‘Give me the phone, get me so-and-so’s number and get the [hell] outta here.’”
When Richard did that, he got arrested for drunk driving. Instead of calling an attorney, Rich dialed friend Joe Collins and asked him to look in on Tom. Richard got bailed out, but as he was on his way home, the bondsman was told to return to the precinct. An officer asked Richard about the altercation with Tom. Rich told the story as accurately as he could, and as soon as he finished, the detective leaned across the desk.
“Your friend’s dead,” the officer said. “Murder one.”
Amazingly, Tom’s children — Tom Jr. and Cheri Oteri, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member — and Bridgette Fox, their mutual publishing associate, were supportive of Richard, convinced the entire fiasco was unintentional. Richard was held on reckless homicide charges, and the Oteris pleaded with the court and with Richard’s attorney to get help for their late father’s friend.
Richard’s addiction had been an undercurrent of their relationship ever since he and Tom first met in Philadelphia in the mid 1970s. Rich showed up for a meeting two hours late — and drunk — and knocked over three beer cans and a terrarium.
“I like the act so far,” Tom quipped. “If he can sing, we’re taking him with us.”
* * * *
Later in the article:
After that fatal night in 2008, a judge agreed with Richard’s attorney and the Oteris that Richard needed help. He was enrolled at Discovery Place in Burns, Tenn., and began his journey back.
He went through an enormous amount of pain, recognizing his inexorable connection to his friend’s death.
“I was crying, ‘It should’ve been me. It should’ve been me,’” Richard recalls.
* * * *
And so the correction is duly made here. At the time it was written, the fact was simply that Fagan had killed Oteri, and not what punishment, if any, he'd get. The point too, was "what demon is like alcohol." Without alcohol, the incident would not have happened.
Best of luck to Richard Fagan, who does have a lot of friends rooting for him. His plight these days includes how difficult it is for anyone to make money from writing funny country novelty songs. Or, come to think of it, any songs at all.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The major religions were formed when people actually thought the Earth was flat. They were formed when people thought angels lived in the clouds and the devil presided in the ground below. The major religions only had the vaguest idea about most anything from germs to semen. The most backward aspect of major religions involved insane rituals designed to "please the Gods." Or the one God.
One is never supposed to make fun of "religion." Why not? What is more laughable than somebody dressing in a silly costume and making ridiculous gestures to heaven? It gets less funny when these same lunatics decide that their way of worship is the only way, and that if they don't outright kill YOU for not being one of THEM, they can most certainly kill some innocent lamb. Literally.
Brigitte Bardot is currently on trial in France because she spoke out against some lunatic religious rite that involves killing a sheep. Isn't she entitled to her opinion? Somehow, she's on trial for spreading "hate." This would be as crazy as a doctor who voices an opinion against circumcision being put on trial for being anti-Semitic.
Here's how the incident was reported:
The 73-year-old former screen siren faces a possible two-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of $23,500 if she is found guilty. The Contempt star, who quit the film industry in the 1970s to pursue a career as an animal rights activist, has faced similar charges of inciting racial hate on four prior occasions. The latest charges came about after the star publicly published a letter she sent to French president Nicolas Sarkozy last year lambasting the Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Adha - due to its traditions of slaughtering a sheep. In the letter she says, "I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts." The first racial hatred charge the star faced was in 1997, where she was fined $2,300 for her comments, and most recently she was ordered to pay $7,900 for making similar controversial and racially motivated comments. Prosecutor Anne de Fonette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than on previous occasions, stating, "I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs Bardot." Bardot did not attend the trial stating she was physically unable to. The verdict is expected in several weeks.
Here at the Ill Folks blog, it must be said that people who believe that God really wants to see a bunch of jerks slaughter a sheep, gut a goat, or wave a live chicken around their heads...are truly sick fucks.
You probably know that in addition to being a caring animal rights advocate, and being the film world's legendary "sex kitten," Bardot also enjoyed a successful singing career. Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast...so only a true savage could download this sample song as music to slaughter a sheep by.
Here, by way of making love not killing sheep (and no lambskin condoms, please) "Je t'aime...Moi non plus" the orgasmic love duet between Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg. The song was a hit via another coupling, Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, mostly because Birkin's breathless gasps and virginal squeals suggested the more tasty notion of male dominance...something not so likely with Brigitte, who clearly sounds like she's giving as good as she gets. Sometimes the best sex is when both partners are being aggressive. Brigitte remains indomitable, even today, battling serious health issues and ludicrous government officials who should be telling bloodthirsty immigrants to take their crazed behavior back to their own country. If you don't believe in the customs and language of a country, don't emigrate there, you dumb radical Islam sick fucks.
JE T'AIME...AND SUPPORT FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT
What we call "religion" is really just one thing: belief in an imaginary friend. The only variation, among the Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus and the rest, is how friendly this God actually is.
Some sick fucks figure that God is actually a pretty evil old dude. Even weirder, they figure their particular form of silly costumes, rituals and chants are the ONLY ones that God hears, and that everybody else should be converted or destroyed. Totally insane is that these same sick fucks think God can't smite these heathens himself! They think he needs them to do it for Him. Holy war! Holy shit!
Illustrating this insane and intolerant point, after nearly 20 years of solo album silence, is Martin Briley.
"ME AND MY INVISIBLE FRIEND" is from Martin's album "It Comes In Waves." Still crusty after all these years, maybe half the tracks are salty, while a few (including the title track) are more bittersweet. For other highlights, such as "Church of Disney" and "Pray For Rain," there's a thing called iTunes. Martin also has a myspace page with samples.
Here, singing as a radical Islam asshole, Martin explains why he's a sick fuck: "I wanna protect you, infect you, show you why your life is wrong. I wanna alert you, convert you, then maybe we can get along.." Maybe. Maybe not:
"I watch you every night by satellite surrounded by the things I crave
You got the floosies in Jazuzzis while I'm living in this cave.
HE promises glory, with stories of virgins in paradise
And I never had a girl in the real world so take me to the afterlife.
It'll be deja-vu all over again
We're gonna fight this holy war 'till the bitter end
Me and my invisible friend..."
Do you have a taste for misanthropic, wry, satiric, inflammatory music-making? Think you could write a hit like Briley's infamous "Salt in My Tears?" Maybe Martin can help you get it out there. If you wanna be very commercial, and write songs you think a Celine Dion or an N'Sync might perform, or a Karla DeVito or Pat Benatar, Martin could help here, too, since he's written songs for all of those (and more). For more info on how you might be able to work with Martin Briley in his studio or via tapes or Internet files sent back and forth, check out martinbriley.com.
And now...a slam at radical Islam (because, let's hasten to add, they are hijacking a fine, fine, super-fine, just plain excellent religion) here's...
ME AND MY INVISIBLE FRIEND
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Overbaked cackling. Sound effects of hellish winds and thunder. Lyrics recited like a mad actor more than sung like a rock star. Wow, what a great version of "Sympathy for the Devil!"
The "Devil" was the only song that interested critics when Jonathan Round's album arrived. That is, if anybody reviewed it at all. A few also commented on Round's album actually being die-cut in a round shape, which was quite an uncommon trick. Even so, the years passed, the album disappeared, and so did the artist.
I sometimes dug up "Devil" to play on the radio. You can hear that version below. While it's taken from a broadcast tape, it's in better shape than the R-share download of the complete album, which has a bit of crackle accumulated over the years.
The Rolling Stones cover version is the best thing on the album, although the rest isn't bad journeyman rock. On a gospel shout like "Don't it Make You Wanna Go Home" he aims for a male Janis Joplin (modern listeners might say this ground Round sounds like Meatloaf.) The throaty soul affectations dominate the rock tunes, but on a softer folkie piece, like "Tolu" (all about "saving karma," man) he sounds like he could've been a slightly hoarse warm-up act for Gordon Lightfoot or Cat Stevens.
While I do know plenty of ill folkies and obscure rockers, and some have even crashed here in Illville for a night or two, the whereabouts of Jonathan Round are unknown to me. I assume he's still a'Round somewhere.
UPDATE: Sadly, Jonathan is no longer a'Round...he was JOHN A MARIOTTO (Feb 1, 1949-Feb 16, 2009). This particular post is one of my proudest, because John did read it, and people who've been unable to find this album in any condition at any price now have it. It's turned out, in his life and in death, to be a place for people to express their feelings about him in the comments section. It makes me so glad I started this blog.
Jonathan's own comment on this recording:
Thank you all for remembering the work. The Westbound Album was the first deal I made after having started performing in the early seventies. Anyone who signed a contract in those days found out very quickly how little say they had over artistic issues. Overall I am proud of what was done. Many of the decisions made came about as a result of having signed with an R&B label. Many of the artistic decisions wrere made by folks who had been doing R&B all their careers. A second and then an independently produced third album were done but unfortunately never released. Either of these two more acurately reflect where I was artistically at the time. Perhaps I'll get a chance to post some cuts from these some time in the future. Once again, thanks for the memories. PS - There is no truth to the rumor that I was ever at any party where "spiked" kind bud was passed out. I'm still looking for the guy who started that story -- and so is my lawyer.
The comments below...at first wondering where he was, then the surprising news of his passing, show that the little known can leave a big legacy. Maybe someday there will be a CD re-issue, with bonus tracks from his unreleased albums.
"Sympathy for the Devil," grandly recited with stagey, cackling laughter. Version from one of my radio broadcasts, with a bit of reverb at the end
The whole Round album, the "Sympathy" version doesn't have the elaborate fade-out as the single-song download version.
Who would dare mimic Bob Dylan?
Actually, who wouldn't? He and Elvis are probably the most imitated vocalists of all time, when it comes to parody.
Since more than a few would be a lethal dose, here's two samples:
"The Times They Haven't Changed Much" by Loose Bruce Kerr, imagines what protest-song Bob might do in describing trivial problems of the day: "Come mothers and fathers in large SUV's. They're just station wagons with cup-holder ease. Your sons and your daughters still won't eat their peas. And teens speak some new form of English. They think they know more than their parents, oh please! Oh the times they haven't changed much..."
"Everybody Must Get Stoned," a phrase in Dylan's oddly named "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35" song, leads to: "Everybody Loves Flintstones" from Dan Orr. A typical Dr. Demento-type piece, aiming at anyone who hasn't mentally aged beyond 14, it extols the joys of never getting over badly animated cartoons: "Well Fred, he got a pal named Barney Rubble. They always wind up in some kinda trouble. They always get yelled at by Mr. Slate. And they use an elephant to wash their plates. Might sound absurd, but they got a bird that is a phone. Everybody loves Flintstones!"
2 boobs tryin' t' soun' like Bob
The name might be familiar to you. Peter Gabriel name-checked him briefly on "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." Phil Ochs in his album notes said his song "The Iron Lady" was influenced by the Chessman case. Alan Alda played him in "Kill Me If You Can." Any discussion of the death penalty usually includes the story of the "Red Light Bandit" who didn't actually kill anyone, but who was sentenced to death and waged a clever, spectacular battle for his life...doing a lot of time before his time was up.
A career criminal with a brilliant mind, Chessman was able to win support for his cause by writing a book while in prison and smuggling it out for publication. Before long, the issue wasn't whether Chessman was innocent or guilty (a fairly even split on that) but whether his crime, or any crime, warranted the maximum penalty.
Chessman drew celebrity support from all over the world, but it didn't soften Governor Edmund Brown. He might've had better luck with the man's son Jerry Brown, who would also become a California governor (in the 70's, and a fringe presidential candidate three times). Many simply believed Chessman's sentence was already too long, and his many last-minute stays of executions were beyond cruel and unusual punishment.
Ironically during his lifetime, it was a pair of country singers who rallied to Chessman's defense. These protest songs against the death penalty were simple enough.
"Country" Johnny Mathis sang, "No one knows his tortured mind, the way he's lived to die 8 times..." and then, addressing Caryl personally: "The world has come to know your name, but they don't live your burning pain...now you wait...Chessman what will be your fate...you've done your best, and now you wait...Chessman, what will be your fate?"
Ronnie Hawkins likewise notes, "Caryl Chessman spent 12 years in San Quentin waitin' for his execution day. What they're sayin' may be true, but what good would killin' him do? Everywhere you go, people say: let 'im live, let 'em live. I'm not sayin' forget or forgive. If he's guilty of his crime, keep him in jail a long long time, but let 'im live, let 'im live, let 'im live."
Hawkins acknowledges two of the three crimes ("Did he kidnap, did he rob") but not the odious third...sexual assault. The Red Light Bandit's m.o. was to drive into a lover's lane, pretending to be a cop (red light on the car roof) and then turn from good guy to pure evil. (Chessman indignantly insisted he was a career thief, but not a pervert.) Whatever his crimes, Hawkins sings, "Killin' laws were made by man, not according to God's plan," and the only reason Chessman got the death sentence was a loophole whereby pulling a woman out of her car was deemed an act of "kidnap."
You know the end result. Once again, at the very last minute, a clever legal maneuver won Caryl Chessman a reprieve. A secretary was ordered to dial the prison with the news, but she got a wrong number. By the time she re-dialed and got through, the gas pellets had already dropped. The date was May 2, 1960.
"COUNTRY" JOHNNY MATHIS
Posted by Ill Folks at 6:48 AM