Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Lily Tomlin’s Got the 20th Century Blues

This 45 came into our household as a result of my mom, who worked in the 1970s at a mild-mannered classical music radio station by day that switched over to a hard rock format at the stroke of midnight when it ceased programming for the broadcast day.

Lily Tomlin's 20th Century Blues

This late-night rock station being on the same frequency as its “parent” classical station no doubt resulted in some colorful phone calls when loyal listeners switched on their radios after midnight, only to hear The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”  – the original everlasting album version at that.

Tomlin’s 1973 Polydor release is one of those white-label “for DJ use only” promos but with a twist:  rather than the same track on both sides (one in stereo, the other in mono), this record features different selections on the A & B sides.  The A-side is a musical number, while the B-side is a comedy piece where Tomlin does all the voices (including a brief cameo from precocious preschooler, Edith Ann) through the miracle of modern recording technology.

I originally intended to post a recording of the A-side, a pastiche of a 1920’s blues number recorded to sound as if it were a 78 playing on an old Victrola, but I have to admit that the comedy piece on the B-side is more engaging and, surprisingly, seems not to have dated a bit 40 years later:

20th Century Blues – Lily Tomlin

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play Lily Tomlin’s solo ensemble piece,  “20th Century Blues.”]

One Response

  1. Thank you so much for this … I’ve been looking for this single for YEARS (starting when it was in print … I just never could come across it). Any chance of coaxing you into posting (or sending me) the A-side? I remember the song as background music in one of her specials and I’d love to hear the whole thing. Thanks! -John

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