Monday, June 30, 2008

Musings about Saturday Night Live

I watched Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Because George Carlin passed away last week, they replayed the very first SNL show ever, since he was the host that night in 1975. It was quite a trip down memory lane. No, I didn't see the very first SNL show, although I've seen an outtake or two from it. But watching it brought back so many memories, thoughts, and feelings from that time. I was in college then, with a big ol' head of hair, wide lapels, and bell-bottom blue jeans. Pretty much like several of the cast and guests.

This may be heresy, but I didn't think this was one of Carlin's better performances. It was kind of a mish-mash of several themes with nothing much to tie them together. It was cool to see John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, and Jane Curtin together, though. Since this was their first show, they didn't have the big personalities that we associate with them now. They were just cast members, all on a level playing field. Even Belushi.

The first musical guest was Billy Preston doing his hit of the time, "Nothing from Nothing". His hair was almost as big as mine was, but with a much better cut. Quite campy. SNL had a second musical guest, Janis Ian. I was a big fan of hers back then. She sang her hit song, "Seventeen". I thought it was an odd choice because "Seventeen" is a real downer, all about hypocrisy and being the odd kid out. It's tremendously strong, but it's not the kind of "get out and have a good time" song that I associate with SNL. (Kinda like my paintings aren't exactly your "good time" wall decorations, either!)

While I was working in the studio today, I dug out my old Janis Ian album, "Between the Lines", which has "Seventeen" on it. It still holds its own after 33 years. The lyrics cut to the chase and are fresh and honest. Janis Ian's voice is clear, there's no posturing, and she's a great storyteller. It was good to hear it again. I need to get it onto my iPod.

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