Laura Levine
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Thank God for Jean Shepherd! (or.....what do you listen to when you work?)
posted: January 18, 2007
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You're probably familiar with the work of Jean Shepherd if you've seen the classic Yule flick, "A Christmas Story." (Written/narrated by him, based on his childhood in Hammond, Indiana). But if you grew up in NYC in the 60s or 70s then you had the full Shep experience, via his radio show which aired on WOR every night. I got into him through my parents (as I think did most kids from that generation). You know, the typical transistor-radio-under-the-blanket-after-your-bedtime scene.

His show comprised great stories about his midwest childhood, the army, his life as a Village hipster, intellectual snob/slob, his travels with the Beatles, the Civil Rights movement, his showbiz life, all in seemingly rambling tangents that somehow all pulled together at the end, and told with a voice that felt like home.

So I was thrilled when a few years ago one of his fan sites complied a collection of CD's of his radio broadcasts - about 8 CDs, each CD containing 30 or 40 shows - and sent them out FREE OF CHARGE  to anyone who wrote in. Anyway, after a few years I've finally worked my way through to CD #8 and I'm about to start all over again, from the beginning.

It's pretty much all I listen to when I paint.

What do you listen to when you work?
14 comments
Christoph Hitz January 18, 2007
Laura, Your site is going wacky on my screen, check the size of Your right corner image, replace or resize. I listen to WAMC.
Laura Levine January 18, 2007
Thanks for the tips, Kroninger! I'll check them out.....yeah, once you've been bitten by the Shep bug, there's no going back. Now of course, even the commercials bring back waves of nostagia (even though he is a self-proclaimed hater of nostagia). I love the fact that so many of his shows were preserved by pimply faced sixteen year old boys from NYC who had their reel-to-reels running back then. Thanks, Christoph - for some reason the page went all weird today. But I replaced the image and all's fine now. Thanks for the advice, I resized.
David Goldin January 18, 2007
I always listen to J.D. and the Coachmen. Besides that and a bunch of metal noise. I do like Car Talk.
J.D. King January 18, 2007
Shep is a fave-rave from way back! When I work, I either listen to music from my collection, or the local classical station, WUNY, which I love. The staff is very knowleadgable, but not the least bit snobby.
joseph daniel fiedler January 18, 2007
It depends. What mood am I in? What have I been listening to? Am I concepting [no noise please!]. Am I painting [lots of noise]. Am I on a Sentimental jag? Who died this week? No broadcasts please. But I'm interested in your dude. I've never heard him. And of course the entire history of roots music and anything affiliated. Songs of the weavers from Gee's Bend. Laura, you did the cover for the Essential Stan Getz. This record is the kick ass of all time. I can't think of Stan without thinking of you!! How much more could you want?
Larry Ross January 18, 2007
Congratulations, Laura, for being the first female fan of Jean Shepherd I've ever known. I'm a big Shep fan from way back in my college days. I've been listening to tapes a friend sent me months ago. And my son gave my a package of six cds for Christmas. What a joy. I listen to a lot of different stuff when I work but for the the last six months when I want something special I listen to Shep. And thanks, Steve for the website tips.
Northeast January 18, 2007
I'm a WFMU addict, everything you will never hear on commercial radio. A great station. Years and Years of archived shows too. Great work Laura CN
Laura Levine January 18, 2007
Wow, who knew there were so many fellow Fatheads on Drawger? (Actually, it doesn't surprise me). Steve, it was neat to listen to his very early shows which I'd never heard before, and his commercials for the House of Chan Chinese Restaurant (his nightly hangout) - it made me want to time-travel back to the Village circa 1962. You could sometimes hear the dark side of him come through in his shows, especially later on - a certain cynicism & bitterness (he never missed a chance to take swipes at Mailer, Roth, Salinger, as well as his engineers). I think he had some estrangement in his family, wasn't much of a "family guy." I suspect he was quite the operator. I'm so glad you posted the Beatles show! Farkus is a classic. I'll have to recheck my memory banks to see what Garbage Dump is. Sounds promising. I love his books. JDF - Thanks! That Verve gig was the job from heaven. The kind that comes along once every ten years. Larry - thanks! I hope it doesn't diminish my femininity. : ) btw, that website from Steve is the BOMB. It's all there. Free. Northeast - I am a huge fan. Excelsior!
Larry Ross January 18, 2007
In my book, it enhances your femininity!
Mick Wiggins January 18, 2007
Laura, thanks for bringing up the subject, and prompting Kroninger to cough up all those links... I grew up in Florida- but somehow heard the Triangular Donut story, and was hooked. This was before the internets, and I kind of forgot about the radio shows. Until now. Currently, Im a BBC radio fan- no shortage of music and strangeness going on over there. KCRW in Santa Monica (home of the homeless) has some safe musical programming as well.
David Flaherty January 18, 2007
Please add visuals with your posts! This is a visual site! Unless of course you say it's radio.
Laura Levine January 18, 2007
but Flaherty, it's radio! cheater.
David Gothard January 18, 2007
Laura- That was me in the late 60's...under the covers listening to Shep every night. When Christmas Story joined It's a Wonderful Life as household faves, I felt that feeling you get like when you have always known something to be great that others didn't quite get or have lost touch with. Don't ya just hate when something you've been groovin on for years suddenly becomes so popular. I wouldn't mind so much if the same amount of interest was given to the real body of Shepard's work. Anyway, thanks for the post. Me too...BBC, KCRW, NPR and my music collection, all day long. DG
Laura Levine January 19, 2007
Steve - My You Tube cup runneth over. Thank you!
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