Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WILLLLMA!

Live At Bedrock - Bruce Springstone

The things that make Bruce Springsteen great are the very things that make him ripe for parody: his earnest working man populism, the distinctive sound of the E Street Band, his penchant (in concert) for leading into songs by telling long stories. Back in 1982, Tom Chalkley and Craig Hankin created a pitch-perfect send-up of the Boss, releasing "Bruce Springstone: Live at Bedrock." The a-side was The Flintstones' Theme Song, the b-side "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

And it's great fun. The patter about a man coming home from the factory to his wife culminates in a perfect "WILLLMA!" before the familiar "Flintstones... meet the Flintstones..." kicks in. Tom gets Bruce's vocal mannerisms just right and there are little musical nods to various BS songs along the way.

Tom and Craig are working on a graphic memoir about those days - you can check out the successful Kickstarter project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/620762079/if-id-known-back-then-a-graphic-memoir.

They generously answered seven questions for a blog that had yet to debut; I'm grateful for their kindness and quite happy to feature them in my first post. Read on and please feel free to comment.

1 - Did you ever meet Springsteen or hear from him directly about "Live from Bedrock"?
CRAIG HANKIN: When drummer John Ebersberger & I interviewed Max Weinberg for City Paper in the summer of '84, he told us that, during the "Born in the USA" recording sessions, one of the E-Streeters (Nils Lofgren, perhaps?) played a copy of "Springstone" through the studio speakers.  His bandmates looked at each other quizzically at first, trying to figure out what they were hearing, then howled with laughter.



The year before, Clarence Clemons & the Red Bank Rockers came to Johns Hopkins for a concert.  After the show, I went backstage to meet Clarence & give him a copy of the record & a Springstone t-shirt.  Couldn't have been a nicer, more gracious guy.  Happily mugged (with) me for a photographer and the shot (attached) wound up being published in Billboard and Cashbox.



2 - Will Bruce Springstone ever come out of seclusion to play live or record another song? 
TOM CHALKLEYWe are considering including a recording with our comic book, which would have at least 2 Springstone songs that have had only minimal exposure, and possibly a third.

3 - The b-side of the single is also excellent: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."  Did you record or consider any other songs for the b-side?
TC: I have always been of the opinion that "New York, New York" would be a great Bruce song but we did "Ballgame" because we guessed it would have popular appeal (that was right!!)




4 - Tom, did you study Springsteen's vocal mannerisms or were you just singing by instinct?
TC: I listened to a lot of Springsteen in those days, esp. "Born To Run" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" -- and I'm both an incurable mimic and a baritone like Bruce. So that came easy but I practiced a lot!

5 - The single is in the Guinness Book of World's Records?  Tell me more.
CH: In 1994, WJMP 1520 AM, an Akron, OH sports talk radio station, played our version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" 57,161 TIMES IN A ROW as a protest against that season's Major League Baseball strike.  Apparently, that was enough to land us in the Guinness Book of Sports Records.  (WJMP lost so many listeners during the protest, they ended up changing formats; we're still waiting for ASCAP to pay us the royalties we're owed.)

6 - When did you first realize that the single was going to make a splash? 
CH: Almost immediately.  Ken Tucker wrote a rave review in the Philadelphia Inquirer a few days after the record's release.  The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Village Voice, USA Today & Billboard all followed in short order.  Within 12 weeks, we were being played on 200+ radio stations across the country.


 7- I love the artwork on the record sleeve.  You are both successful visual artists now; who created the single's jacket?
TC: The front cover is by our drummer, John Ebersberger -- brilliant cartoonist! -- and the back cover (aping the style of the front) by Tom C.



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