Song of the Week – The Sensual World, Kate Bush; TV Or Not TV, Firesign Theatre

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Bloomsday was last Thursday, June 16th.  Bloomsday you ask?  Yes, Bloomsday celebrates the date that Leopold Bloom’s adventures take place in the renowned novel, Ulysses, by James Joyce.  Joyce picked this date as the setting for his novel because it was also the day he had his first date with the woman that was to become his wife, Nora Barnacle.

So how does James Joyce or Ulysses connect with the SotW?  Kate Bush recorded a great song titled “The Sensual World” that was inspired by the famous last chapter of Ulysses – Molly Bloom’s soliloquy.  The soliloquy captures Molly’s stream-of-consciousness thoughts as she lies in bed next to her husband Leopold.  It is written with little punctuation to illustrate the s-o-c technique, and for many years held the record as the longest sentence in published literature.

Bush’s original idea was to set the soliloquy to music but the Joyce estate nixed that idea.  So she wrote her own lyrics to capture the essence of the soliloquy, allowing Molly to jump out of the pages and have a voice.

Stepping out of the page into the sensual world
Stepping out, off the page, into the sensual world

And then our arrows of desire rewrite the speech, mmh, yes
And then he whispered would I, mmh, yes
Be safe, mmh, yes, from mountain flowers?
And at first with the charm around him, mmh, yes
He loosened it so if it slipped between my breasts
He’d rescue it, mmh, yes
And his spark took life in my hand and, mmh, yes
I said, mmh, yes
But not yet, mmh, yes
Mmh, yes
Mmh, yes

In 2011, the Joyce estate granted her permission to use the actual text and she rerecorded “The Sensual World”, renamed “Flower of the Mountain”.

Molly Bloom’s soliloquy was also captured in popular culture by The Firesign Theatre, my favorite comedy group.  Their routine  “How Can You Be In Two Palces At Once, When You’re Not Anywhere At All” is the “odyssey” of the character Ralph Spoilsport.  The bit ends with phrases lifted directly from Molly Bloom’s soliloquy (just like Ulysses ended).  Brilliant!!!

Enjoy… until next week.

Extra Song of the Week – The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, The Firesign Theatre

I just learned that Phil Austin of the Firesign Theatre has passed away. He was 74. Although the Firesign were not musicians, they’re brand of comedy epitomized the spirit and culture of Rock ‘n Roll.

When I was in college, my roommates and I listened “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger” (and all of their other routines) endlessly. We knew and could recite the dialog by heart.

I brought one of their films (Everything You Know is Wrong) to campus and once did a 4 hour Firesign marathon on WZBC (Boston College radio).

I also finally got to see the group perform at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, I think it was the late 80s (could have been early 90s). They were great sports, letting the audience recite all of their most popular lines.

Since Peter Bergman died in 2012, the Firesign Theatre is down to two. That is sad news.

RIP Phil (Nick Danger) Austin. You will be missed.