Friday, September 2, 2016

Episode 268: Story Songs

Episode 268: Story Songs
To celebrate her birthday Pat is joined by his wife Pilar Alessandra ( to play music from her topic of choice "Story Songs."
From September 1, 2016

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat and Pilar welcome us to the show. That's right people, we've got a Couple's Skate on our hands. Pilar, Pat's wife, is here in the co-host's seat. September 2 is Pilar's birthday and as a present, Pat has her on the show. The topic? Pilar chose Story Songs! Songs that, well, tell a story. Pilar is a screenwriting teacher and naturally knows all about stories. She loves story songs in all their (sometimes) cheesy glory. Pilar was last on the show in December (Jesus, the time just flies by) and is excited to be here. To introduce the topic, we hear a little "Whole Lotta Rosie" by AC/DC off of Let There Be Rock. Bon wants to tell us all a story about a large woman. Big around the hips, roomy.
00:05:00 Pat remember when they were celebrating Pilar's 30th birthday at a bar. An eventful occasion: Ellen Degeneres and Anne Heche were fighting in the bathroom; Chip Chinnery and Jimmy Pardo were galavanting around with their star power; Pilar's hot mom (her words) stole the show. It was a birthday bash like no other. Before we begin, a friendly reminder that the second edition of Pilar's book The Coffee Break Screenwriter is currently on sale.
00:10:00 Pilar kicks things off with the song that first taught her about sex when she was a young lass at 11 years of age. It's our boy Meat Loaf with "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" off the album Bat Out of Hell. She thought it was about baseball. It's NOT about baseball. Pilar's friend and her friend's sisters walked her through EVERY BEAT of the song, teaching young Pilar all about the birds, the bees, the meats, and the loafs.
Pat's first story is off the album Piano Man. It's Billy Joel with "Piano Man". All about Billy's days at a piano bar.
00:15:00 The next story from Pilar is from a band called The Shangri-Las. Off the album Leader of the Pack, the song is called "Leader of the Pack". The girl meets a bad boy at the candy store, her parents don't approve. "This is about Fonzie, isn't it?" questions Pat. The girl has to break up with the guy, then the guy promptly crashes his motorcycle... AND DIES!!!! Pilar can't help but fall for this tragic love story.
Pat's next is all about the Chicago police and Al Capone's goons battling it out in the streets of the windy city. It's Paper Lace with "The Night Chicago Died" off the album And Other Bits of Material.
00:20:00 The narrator's dad is a cop, his mom is crying and thinks the dad is dead from the shootout. Then the dad comes home safe and sound. A happy ending to a downright corny song, but that's the Dodson way. "They bring a knife, you bring an Asia album. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to a Kiss concert. That's the Dodson way. And that's how we get Valeriano." (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
A lot of these songs actually end in misery, as evidenced by Pilar's next song: "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes.
00:25:00 Joey and Julie: A young couple in love. But Julie's dad is angry because Julie has married Joey and he thinks they did it because Julie got pregnant. Julie's dad has a gun, Julie warns Joey to stay away, but Joey that HEROIC SON OF A BITCH runs to Julie's house. Julie's dad points the gun at Joey, but AT THE LAST SECOND JULIE STEPS IN THE WAY OF THE BULLET AND GETS KILLED!! My goodness, what a story. Terrible song, don't get me wrong, Pilar admits as such. But I was on the edge of my seat, let me tell you.
Pat's next story is from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Off the album It's a Mystery, the song is "Manhattan". Drug addict Shaky Davey is getting ready to rob a liquor store to get the money for his fix. Needs the scratch for the good stuff, as the kids say. Well at the end of the song, Davey got his dope and shot up. But it was a bad batch, so Shaky Davey drifted off to La La Land and never came back. Pilar enjoys the song a lot, and it's one of Pat's favorite Bob Seger songs.
00:30:00 Speaking of crimes and criminal ways, Pilar's next song is about a serial killer. It's The Beatles with "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" off of Abbey Road. What a happy-sounding song about a man bashing people's brains in. Six-year-old Pilar loved the song because of the happy music and "bang bang" sound effect... until her dad explained to her what the song was about: Maxwell killing his teacher, getting caught, then killing the judge.
Something happier from Pat, it's a story about how Carly Simon's parents met called "Hello Big Man" off the album Hello Big Man. When her parents met, the dad said "Hello, little woman." The mom replied, "Hello, big man."
00:35:00 Pilar will raise Pat's Carly Simon with her Rickie Lee Jones. Off the album Pirates, the song is "Skeletons". Another nice couple, the girl is pregnant. They're all excited. But then the guy gets too close to a robbery and gets accidentally shot to death by the police ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL FOR THE DELIVERY. Yeah, be right back.
00:40:00 Pat's next is from a genre that Pilar does not like: Big 80s. Off the album Backlash, it's Bad English with "Rebel Say a Prayer". Another couple. Another bad boy. Another gun. Another run-in with the cops. You know what happens. Pat and Pilar ponder the persistent presence of firepower in these sad story songs.
We get a nice palate cleanser from Pilar with a man whom she would quickly leave Pat for, Lyle Lovett. She plays "Her First Mistake" off the album The Road to Ensenada. Double L trying to pick a woman up by guessing things about her. He keeps trying and failing. But in the end, he gets the girl.
00:45:00 A man with many story songs is Bruce Springsteen. He plays "Shut Out the Light" off the box set Tracks. A soldier returns home from being away at war and is stricken with PTSD. He doesn't feel comfortable at home. He barely feels anything. Haunting stuff.
Pilar announces that her next story song is the darkest, most downer song of the night. It's Tori Amos with "Me and a Gun" off the album Little Earthquakes. Tori sings a cappella about being raped in Los Angeles after a show when she was 21. As Pilar says, it's not a pretty story, but it's certainly an important one. Again, haunting haunting HAUNTING.
00:50:00 Pat attempts to pick our spirits up after that absolute DOWNER of a song with "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow off the album Even Now. Lola is a showgirl, Tony is her lover. Thirty years later, Lola is a crazy drunk and Tony is dead. Happy yet?
00:55:00 The last time Pilar was here, she played some Helen Reddy. Helen is back and this time she's singing "Angie Baby" off the album Free and Easy. Okay, strap in for this one. Angie is a little touched in the head and constantly listens to the radio. One day, this neighborhood kid comes by, intending to get away with a little hanky-panky on Angie. But he's distracted by the loud music on the radio. Then Angie turns the volume down and the BOY GETS SUCKED INTO THE RADIO! What the what?! What kind of science fiction voodoo devil magic is this?!
The next story from Pat is by Don Henley. Off the album Building the Perfect Beast, the song is called "A Month of Sundays". This guy used to build tractors, but now the farms are gone and he's lost money. Everyone else has their fancy computers and their Nintendo boxes.
01:00:00 Pilar brings into the 21st century with a song from their daughter (and former guest) Sara's collection. Off the album Every Time You Go Somewhere, it's Mal Blum with "New Year's Eve". Poor Mal got stood up on New Year's Eve.
We heard a little a cappella earlier, now Pat has another female artist singing alone. It's Suzanne Vega with "Tom's Diner" off the album Solitude Standing.
01:05:00 After expressing her annoyance with Pat's recurring bit about Luka ("That kid, let me tell you"), she moves on to her next artist and story song. Off her album Relish, the song is Joan Osborne with "Spider Web". Joan dreams about Ray Charles being able to see. But then Dream Ray Charles can't sing anymore. The moral of the story is that the spiderwebs in your head lead to your creativity. So no retina transplants for you, Mr. Charles.
Another opportunity for Pat to express his mellow side with Dan Fogelberg. The story song is "Tucson, Arizona (Gazette)" off the album Windows and Walls.
01:10:00 Two lonely people: Tony and Mary. Tony's got his precious car and little else, Mary is serving drinks in a redneck bar for low pay. They just want to connect. Cut to Mary winding up dead and then the police eventually find Tony in his car. He's killed himself. FUCKING HELL!
Pilar pulls us back to some classic rock. Off of Space Oddity, it's "Space Oddity" by David Bowie.
01:15:00 Major Tom goes to space. Pilar marvels about those classic sci-fi movies; the horror and the beauty of being alone in space, the awe of seeing Earth from the outside. "Space Oddity" reminds Pilar of that feeling. Pat also has a classic rock story song, this one from The Kinks. Off of State of Confusion, the song is "Come Dancing". Ray remembers his sister dancing at this dance hall; now years later the daughter is dancing and the sister is waiting for her to come home.
01:20:00 We hear a snippet of "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart, but Pilar does not want that to count as her pick. Instead her pick is "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry off the album Ode to Billie Joe. Billie Joe jumps off the Tallahatchie Bridge to his demise. Nobody knows why he jumped. Nobody really wants to know why he jumped. The people in the song just go about their lives, not wanting to think about it.
01:25:00 Pilar and Pat discuss the song a bit more, then Pat plays a little snippet of Patty Smyth from Scandal singing her version of the song. Pat then offers Pilar a choice: Kenny Rogers, Harry Chapin, or Neil Diamond. "Oh my god, this is TERRIBLE," says Pilar. Pilar first rejects Neil Diamond... so Pat naturally plays him. It's "Brooklyn Roads" off the album Velvet Gloves and Spit.
01:30:00 You see, it's an autobiographical tale of young Neil in Brooklyn. Then he leaves Brooklyn for the Sunshine State and never looks back.
"You remember when you took me to a Neil Diamond concert?"
- Pilar

"It was more like 'Would you PLEASE go to this with me?'"
- Pat

Pilar's next song is the first story song that she recognized as a story song. She sang it all the time at summer camp. It's "One Tin Soldier" by Coven off the soundtrack to Billy Jack. You've got the Mountain People and the Valley People. The Valley People want the Mountain People's treasure. The Mountain People offer to share the treasure, to which the Valley People respond with genocide. They kill everyone: You're dead, your daughter's dead, you're grandson's dead. Your son spent his wedding night in a dungeon and I am Lord of Riverrun.... Sorry, wrong story. So yeah, the Mountain People are dead and the Valley People go to get the treasure and discover that the treasure is a simple message: Peace on Earth.
01:35:00 Pat follows this up with an artist that Pilar actually likes: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It's "Into the Great Wide Open" off the album Into the Great Wide Open. Eddie moves to Hollywood for his music career. He gets a hit single, but then it all comes crashing down like a house of cards. Or a house of pancakes. We don't know the structural integrity of IHOP, now do we?
Another sad story song from Pilar, this one called "Home" by Sheryl Crow off her self-titled album. The narrator got married young, and one day she wakes up and wants to be free, she wants to live life.
01:40:00 Unfortunately there's no waking up for Pilar, as Pat plays a little Harry Chapin. It's "W*O*L*D" off the album Short Stories. Our boy Harry, back again. He's a radio DJ on the phone with his ex-wife. He talks to her and eventually comes to realize that he misses her. It's too late, as she's moved on to a new man. Probably someone in television. Pilar imagines the flip side, with the woman creeped out and annoyed that her ex is trying to scooch his way back into her life.
01:45:00 Pilar's last story song has something to do with Pat. Their parents have nothing in common with each other, but they both had the same song. This song: "Silhouettes" by The Rays. A guy sees his girlfriend's silhouette through the window... and their's another silhouette with her. He gets ready to beat down the door. It turns out that lovable lunkhead was on the wrong block! Oh that goofball......... He was promptly shot by the police.
Here's a song that makes Pat cry. It's "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" by Taylor Swift off her self-titled album. "I'm not gonna cry," swears Pat as he clears his throat. Two small-town kids growing up together, boy and girl. Later in life they actually get married. Pat held it together. No "You're Gonna Miss This" incident this time around.
01:50:00 Plugs time for Pilar. You can find her on Twitter @OnthePage. You can also go to her website She has a podcast that is also called On the Page, which is available on her website.
01:55:00 Thanks to Pilar for coming on the podcast again. She loves being on the show and we love her being on the show. Happy Birthday Pilar! Pat ends the show with the biographical account of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, falsely accused of murder and sent to jail. Off the album Desire, it's Bob Dylan with "Hurricane".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:00:00 Whole Lotta Rosie Let There Be Rock AC/DC Pat
00:10:00 Paradise by the Dashboard Light Bat Out of Hell Meat Loaf Pilar
00:10:00 Piano Man Piano Man Billy Joel Pat
00:15:00 Leader of the Pack Leader of the Pack The Shangri-Las Pilar
00:15:00 The Night Chicago Died And Other Bits of Material Paper Lace Pat
00:20:00 Run Joey Run Single David Geddes Pilar
00:25:00 Manhattan It’s a Mystery Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band Pat
00:30:00 Maxwell’s Silver Hammer Abbey Road The Beatles Pilar
00:30:00 Hello Big Man Hello Big Man Carly Simon Pat
00:35:00 Skeletons Pirates Rickie Lee Jones Pilar
00:40:00 Rebel Say a Prayer Backlash Bad English Pat
00:40:00 Her First Mistake The Road to Ensenada Lyle Lovett Pilar
00:45:00 Shut Out the Light Tracks Bruce Springsteen Pat
00:45:00 Me and a Gun Little Earthquakes Tori Amos Pilar
00:50:00 Copacabana Even Now Barry Manilow Pat
00:55:00 Angie Baby Free and Easy Helen Reddy Pilar
00:55:00 A Month of Sundays Building the Perfect Beast Don Henley Pat
01:00:00 New Year’s Eve Every Time You Go Somewhere Mal Blum Pilar
01:00:00 Tom’s Diner Solitude Standing Suzanne Vega Pat
01:05:00 Spider Web Relish Joan Osborne Pilar
01:05:00 Tucson, Arizona (Gazette) Windows and Walls Dan Fogelberg Pat
01:10:00 Space Oddity Space Oddity David Bowie Pilar
01:15:00 Come Dancing State of Confusion The Kinks Pat
01:20:00 Ode to Billie Joe Ode to Billie Joe Bobbie Gentry Pilar
01:25:00 Brooklyn Roads Velvet Gloves and Spit Neil Diamond Pat
01:30:00 One Tin Soldier Billy Jack Soundtrack Coven Pilar
01:35:00 Into the Great Wide Open Into the Great Wide Open Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Pat
01:35:00 Home Sheryl Crow Sheryl Crow Pilar
01:40:00 W*O*L*D Short Stories Harry Chapin Pat
01:45:00 Silhouettes Single The Rays Pilar
01:45:00 Mary’s Song (Oh My My My) Taylor Swift Taylor Swift Pat
01:55:00 Hurricane Desire Bob Dylan Pat

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