Before we started listening to the promised continuation of this week’s “weird” records (today’s really does include robot sex!) I felt we should have an “America” song in honor of the holiday.
And also a passage from one of my favorite histories of the United States – This is from Samuel Elliot Morrison’s lively and opinionated 1965 Oxford History of the United States:
It was America’s busy age, or one of them Eighteenth-century travelers scolded Americans for their indolence; nineteenth-century travelers criticized their activity. Each Northern community was an anthill, intensely active within and constantly exchanging with other hills. Every man worked, or at least made a semblance of it; the few who wished to be idle and could afford it, fled to Europe and dabbled in the arts or pursued some pallid branch of scholarship – the type of American expatriate immortalized by Henry James. Nothing struck European travelers more forcibly than the total want of public parks and pleasure resorts, of games and sports, or of simple pleasures like country walking. For the Northern American had no learned how to employ leisure. His pleasure came from doing; and as almost everyone worked for long hours six days of the week, and (except in New Orleans) the Puritan sabbath prevailed, there was not much time for recreation, and very few holidays other than Thanksgiving (still confined to the Yankee area), Christmas, and the Glorious Fourth.
So here’s a track from Night People, a late 70s Lee Dorsey produced by Allen Toussaint – It’s a good fit for this election year: a little bit cynical, a little bit jaded, but not downtrodden at all. Let’s leave all that hostility to the angry folks on the fringes so those of us with real shit to do can go on with our lives.
(“God Must Have Blessed America” by Lee Dorsey)
And now our feature presentation…
Anyway, this week we’ve been exploring weird albums, although today’s is only weird if you think the above sentiment was out of line. It’s hardly irrelevant to today’s holiday, and even just maybe a little inspirational…
(Intro / “Inside Star Trek Theme”)
Inside Star Trek is an album released by Columbia Records in 1976, during a time when the series was in cultural exile – several years before the first movie, several years after the cancellation of the animated series*, and nearly a decade after the original series aired. Unlike most records about a TV show (like the Goddamn stupid Dukes of Hazard album) a lot of creative thought went into it – they even included an interview with Isaac Asimov!
*Now on Netflix but not as awesome as you remember it being.
The best part of this album is Star Trek‘s creator, Gene Roddenberry, speaking before an audience about his relationship with the network and it’s censors while making the first two seasons of the original series. These are the only parts we have here in this post.
(“The Enterprise Runs Aground”)
(“A Letter from a Network Censor”)
(The Questor Affair” – There’s robot sex in this one!)
It’s sort of fun to hear the interview with Spock’s dad one time, but after that it’s just boooooring. Roddenberry’s the best part. My dad, incidentally, thought all Star Trek was that booooooring – he complained that it was just guys standing around and talking. He proved his point when we got our first VCR, because I’m pretty sure I remember watching Raiders of the Lost Ark that night.
So Star Trek isn’t always very exciting. It does reward your attention when it can capture it – and so it is for the album, which ends with Roddenberry’s case for its legacy:
(“The Star Trek Philosophy”)