Monday, June 18, 2012

Other Voices, Part 8: The American Voice, The Bonzo Dog Band and Procol Harum

Love was an American psychedelic band of the 1960's who had what is now considered a classic album called Forever Changes, recorded from June - September, 1967 and released in November, 1967.  One track on the album is called The Red Telephone.  What got me interested in the song is the fact that The Bonzo Dog Band mocked the song in their album, The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse.  (See my March 28, 2012 post for a discussion of a backmasked reference to Paul in that album's track, Trouser Press.)

Before I get to the song, I tried to track down what significance there was in the song's title.  I found that there were red telephone boxes in England in 1966--the "K6" (Kiosk #6.)  And I found that red telephones existed in England as far back as 1937.  The "Type 706" telephone was available from 1959.  There's a nice British Pathe film that shows Queen Elizabeth introducing the phone to the English public, if you're interested.  I assume Arthur Lee of Love who wrote the song heard something, but I couldn't track it down any further.

The song itself talks about a man trapped in an apparent mental institution, about the man being hypnotized and "medicated" and losing track of time.  Listen to the track on Youtube at: .  Some of the significant forward lyrics are:
          Sitting on a hillside  [Fool on the Hill?]
          Watching all the people die. 
          I'll feel much better on the other side;
          I'll hitch a ride.  [If you know the Beatle songs, there are many references to Paul
                                      asking for wheels (a car), asking for a "jam jar"  (English rhyming slang
                                      for a motor car, etc.]
                           - - - -
          And if you want to count me
          Count me out.  [ In the Beatles' 1967 Christmas record (which has the jam jar reference), there
                                     are several times when Ringo sings O-U-T spells OUT.]

                           - - - -
          They're locking them up today.
          They're throwing away the key.
          I wonder who it will be tomorrow
          You or me?

                           - - - -

          We are normal
          And we want our freedom.
          We are normal
          And we want our freedom.
The entire song, sung and spoken, is done in an English accent.

Reversed, you can here "Let me out" sung three times beginning at 1:28.

                                            ---references in The Bonzo Dog band song and the Procol Harum song
                                                tomorrow.             paulumbo

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