“Tulsa Telephone Book”: Pre-Internet Woes

I have a transcription LP of a Ralph Emery radio show from 1971, with Glen Campbell as the featured guest.  Here are Ralph and Glen introducing a wry and rascally analog tale – “Tulsa Telephone Book” – from Tom T. Hall’s new album at the time, In Search of a Song:

“Tulsa Telephone Book” was never issued as a 45 – thus, Ralph Emery was spinning an LP track on this particular radio broadcast.

Tom T Hall LP

Bobby & Jeannie Bare Are Going to Vegas

One of the country “outlaws” who doesn’t always get the recognition is Shel Silverstein, who not only wrote Johnny Cash’s iconic “Boy Named Sue” but also many of Bobby Bare‘s RCA releases through the 1970s, including this great 45 about going “all in”:

Vegas – Bobby & Jeannie Bare

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Vegas” by Bobby & Jeannie Bare.]

Vegas” – recorded in September 1976 at Nashville’s RCA Victor Studio and released as a single – was subsequently played on the January 24, 1977 broadcast of The Ralph Emery Radio Show.  Bare recorded “Vegas” toward the end of his long run with RCA (he signed with Columbia in 1978), and this song appears not to have been reissued until 1997’s 20-song The Essential Bobby Bare compilation.

Bobby Bare & Shel Silverstein

Shel continued writing for Bobby Bare during his tenure with Columbia, including a typically bent take on the truck driving genre with “World’s Last Truck Drivin’ Man” from 1980’s Drunk and Crazy.

A couple years back Bobby Bare and his son, Bobby Bare, Jr., curated a tribute album to Silverstein entitled, Twistable, Turnable Man that features Shel’s songs covered by the likes of My Morning Jacket, Frank Black, Andrew Bird, Todd Snider, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, and The Boxmasters featuring Billy Bob Thornton – here’s a link to an NPR piece about this special recording project.

Patience is a Virtue

Fun ad for Ford trucks tagged onto the end of “Vegas” with music by Merle Haggard & the Strangers featuring Roy Nichols on lead guitar.

Ralph Emery Messes with Joe Stampley’s Head

Normally, I have no patience for vinyl records that are divorced from their album jackets, but I once took a chance on three loose LPs – a transcription of a syndicated radio show from 1977 – and was richly rewarded.  But only because I spent my first 28 years in Cincinnati and am intimately familiar with the city’s streetscape.  It was almost as if my finding this particular item in a Berkeley Springs, West Virginia charity shop was divinely orchestrated as some sort of cosmic contest for this music-obsessed former Cincinnatian, for I had to wade through several hours of a broadcast of Ralph Emery‘s weekly radio show from January 24, 1977 to find this moment.  And what a moment it is.  But, again – only if you know the street layout of Cincinnati’s core business district.

Nine Songs About Her — Plus One About Cincinnati

joe-stampley-lpOn this particular episode of The Ralph Emery Show, Ralph’s special guest is Joe Stampley, who is promoting his latest album, Ten Songs About Her.  At one point in the broadcast, Ralph wants to talk about the story behind the title of the song, “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati” with Stampley, who is completely unprepared for the ambush that awaits him.  As it turns out, Ralph (and I, too) know that “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati” is a non-existent street address – mainly since there is no street by the name of Cincinnati anywhere within the city limits.  But Stampley doesn’t know that.

Joe, who is from Springhill, Louisiana, innocently insists that the song title is the actual location of the girlfriend of a person connected to Norro Wilson, one of the tune’s main songwriters (so says Stampley – although according to this source, Bobby Braddock is the sole tunesmith).  But, Ralph Emery doesn’t come right out and bust Joe.  Nor does he exactly help Joe save face either.  Instead, Emery slyly inquires, “You mean this would be, ‘Apartment #4, Sixth Street in Cincinnati’?”   Stampley, however, pretends not to understand what Ralph is getting at and simply answers, “Right,” but you can tell that by now he is getting wind that the host is pricking his balloon with all the nitpicking over the song’s title.  You can actually hear the air escaping.  So much so that by the time you can hear him declare, “It’s kind of a clever idea, I think” over the opening strains of the song, Joe is audibly deflated – and sadly unconvincing.  It’s a fascinating moment, and one that illustrates why radio is a rare medium when it’s well done.

Apt #4, Sixth St & Cincinnati – Joe Stampley

[Click on the triangle above to hear Ralph Emery grill Joe Stampley about the song title, “Apartment #4, Sixth Street & Cincinnati“]

Ralph Emery Show