I don’t know if I just woke up in a mood that morning or what. I arose slowly, then systematically cleaned out the litter boxes, got coffee, fired up the studio equipment, and then sat down at my desk. I began to turn the dial of my radio to see what sort of fare I might find offered on the distant AM stations, as it was still quite dark.
As most older readers are well aware, AM broadcasts can travel hundreds of miles at night well into early morning, at which time the yokel stations begin to stoke their signals. It is at these pre-dawn hours that one can really hear what is left of small town America: farm reports, lost dog info & other news of regional interest, as well as the obituaries. This is what I prefer to wake up to. Besides, faux-news is all that the national government-tit-sucking media seems to concern itself with anymore, and this was during the time that the ‘news’ was wall to wall with the so-called ‘government shutdown’.
I gave my receiver the middle finger when I heard Diane Feinstein’s voice bleating on about how it was the height of absurdity for the Tea Party to shut down the government and hold the American people hostage – when all that the action resulted in was a weakened national security, and that it would be a fine time for terrorists to hit.
“Diane, you ignorant slut,” I replied aloud to Feinstein, “can’t you open your mouth without lying? Do you think that all of us are too stupid not to realise that the Fed is still taking in millions in tax dollars every day?” and with that, I began my small-town-station search.
At 11:07 GMT on 1.170 kilocycles, I came across what I believe to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, and perhaps, The World’s Stupidest Radio Station.
Had I been tuning shortwave, I’d have sworn I was listening to a pirate station, but these unlicensed plonkers are never heard broadcasting on the regular AM band.
The format seemed to be 40s era music at first listen, but as I strained to recognise the tune, I found myself asking myself, “Who the hell IS this!?” The guy simply couldn’t sing.
Now, I like to think of myself as being pretty well versed in Big Band era music. It was kinda my business to know that stuff when I worked in music retail, but I like it, too. You could play that music for me all day long, and I’d bet there wouldn’t be but one or two artists that I couldn’t name.
But this voice was foreign to my ears, and the horn section played as if they’d walked in the door five minutes before recording commenced.
I could see the low-budget session now: With hair mussed and ties askew, the hung-over players attempt to make themselves presentable, buttoning rumpled coats, and borrowing combs. One of them backs into a boom, knocking an RCA 77 to the floor.
With one eye held closed in order to focus, the trumpeter holds his horn high, intently watching last night’s spittle drain out onto the carpet.
The vibes player is a skinny guy who warms up with his tongue hanging out of his mouth; he is clearly mimicking Lionel Hampton’s stage persona, but he plays as if both arms are broken. His appearance leads the upright player to wonder if he doesn’t have a little bit of sugar in his tank.
The pianist tickles the tops, occasionally peering up through his cigarette smoke to see if anyone is impressed. It sounds as if the hammers are glass and the strings are ice. When he smiles, he resembles Satan.
“Okay boys,” the visibly harried producer says, as he weaves about the studio, passing out ditto sheet copies of hand-scribbled charts that can barely be read, ” the tune is in Gbm11. Mister Darin is sick today so his body double will be singing in his absence.” Reft of the true artist of the day, the session was filled with cut-rate performers playing for a no-name vocalist.
Or, at least that’s the impression that the song gave me. I hunkered over closer to the speaker and jacked the volume. The signal was fading just as the tune was reaching the coda. “Never freaking fails,” I told myself aloud, as the DJ segued between cuts.
It sounded like he said ‘…and that was Come Soony by Tom Tuney and the Crab Apple Corsage’.
I looked at my tabletop radio as if it were on drugs. “Have I stumbled upon a portal opening into the Bizarro World?!” I blurted.
I picked up an old issue of the Schwann Spectrum that I keep on my desk and thumbed through the pages. There was no listing for Tom Tuney, but then I noticed that the page numbers were not numerically correct.
The page had been suspiciously torn out.
I awoke suddenly to the distant sound of fire engines down on the boulevard. I squinted through the darkness to focus on the clock. It was 5:30. Right on que.
I lay there for a moment in a post-mortem stupor. I arose slowly, then systematically cleaned out litter boxes, and got coffee, and fired up the studio equipment, and sat down at my desk.