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Classical Notes

Message in a Bottle

Posted at 8:29 AM on February 2, 2007 by John Birge
Filed under: The blog

Pursuant to the Sidney Sheldon obit, James Lileks' blog weighs in on the "I Dream of Jeanie" theme song, and Stephen Foster:

"Every note is simple and obvious but it still seems remarkable that no one had thought to arrange them in that particular order. It’s the countertheme that gives it spice, and the middle section has a lovely expansive quality that makes you think of Frank Sinatra peeing off a balcony in Vegas . And of course the beat: bum / bum / bum / bumbum bum / bum / bum / bum / bumbum bum. "

"The name of the show was a callback to an old song from the early part of the 20th century – “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair.” I’ve only heard the first few bars, sung by Bugs Bunny with appropriate alterations: “I dream of Jeannie, she’s a light brown hare.” Old as the song was, audiences in the forties got the joke, just as people today recognize a reference to a song from the 60s. "

"The difference, of course, is that the 60s aren’t seen as The Past; the 60s are a Timeless Vault of Cultural Touchstones, the apotheosis of Western Civ. Sigh. Well. One of the future Diners will take place in the 60s – don’t ask why, it’ll be explained – and I will use many of the gutbustingly dreadful “psychedelic” records I have collected. It’s obvious from Note One that everyone involved in the effort had so much THC in their system you could dry-cure their phlegm and get a buzz off the resin, but instead of having the loose happy ho-di-hi-dee-ho cheer of a Cab Calloway reefer number, the songs are soaked with Art and Importance and Meaning. You can imagine the band members sitting down to hash out (sorry) the overarching themes of the album, how it should like start with Total Chaos man because those are the times in which we live with like war from the sky, okay, and then we’ll have flutes because flutes are peaceful like doves and my old lady can play that part because she like studied flute, man, in high school. The lyrics are all the same: AND THE KING OF QUEENS SAID TO THE EARTH THE HEIROPHANT SHALL NOW GIVE BIRTH / THE HOODED PRIESTS IN CHAMBERED LAIRS LEERED DOWN UPON THE LADIES FAIR / NEWWWW DAAAAY DAWNNNING! "

"Five years later it was obsolete. The Jeannie theme, however, will make toes tap in 2476 AD."