I was re-listening to the final show of Theme Time Radio Hour a few days ago, thinking to transcribe it as a bookend piece to my commentary on the "Weather" episode
. As it turned out, I decided not to. As the 100 episodes of TTRH go, the script for "Goodbye" is one of the weaker ones. The music is good, but the writing is flat and forced, with Eddie G. doing his best to connect improbable segues and still hold to the theme. In fact, much of Dylan’s commentary seems to have been taken from unused pieces left over from earlier shows. If you listen to "Goodbye" wearing headphones as I did, you can distinctly hear Tex Carbone's editing work in several sections.
Having said that. there are still nuggets to find in "Goodbye," and a few sections that bring the show full circle back to the "Weather" show. Mr. D's opening remarks on Chandler's "The Long Goodbye," for instance...Our Host:
...I’ve always been a big fan of “The Long Goodbye.” “The Long Goodbye” is a novel, written in 19 and 53 by Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe, was involved in two cases that seemed unconnected. But by the end of the book, they are connected. And Philip Marlowe’s notion of brotherhood and morality is challenged. There’s a sense of fruitlessness and disgust at the misery of the world and at the depravity of modern culture. As you can imagine, it’s my kind of book.
... are reminiscent of his "Weather" commentary on Chandler's "Red Wind." And just as with that quote, Eddie G. pulls the colorful "...sense of fruitlessness and disgust at the misery of the world and at the depravity of modern culture."
line from an online source
, in this case a 2002 review of Robert Altman's deconstructionist 19 and 73 movie version of "The Long Goodbye." One could probably safely assume that Mr. D. is also a "big fan" of that movie too, given that Elliot Gould does an improvised blackface routine in one scene.
The use of Woody Guthrie’s “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Ya” not only resonates because it’s so appropriate for a Bob Dylan “Goodbye” show, but also because “So Long…” was also the centerpiece of Guthrie’s first episode of his
“Back Where I Come From” radio series, which was focused on the theme… “Weather.”“All these things tie together,”
as Mr D. would say.
Given that the final theme is “Goodbye,” the name of TTRH’s last call-in listener is also interesting. Here’s Mr. D taking the call:Our Host:
Let’s go to the phones. Love taking phone calls, reminds me of how many people are out there. Well, Line 2’s ringing. Hello caller, you’re on the air. Morgan:
Hey, Bob. How you doing? Our Host:
I’m good, thanks. What’s your name and where you calling from?Morgan:
My name’s Morgan Treat and I’m calling from Montreal, Canada. Our Host:
What can I do for you, Morgan?Morgan:
Well Bob, I’ve been listening to the “Goodbye” show…Our Host:
Are you enjoying it?Morgan:
Well, not really.Our Host:
What’s the matter?Morgan:
I really don’t like goodbyes. In every relationship I’ve had seems like I’m the one that leaves. I just can’t stand someone saying goodbye to me. And I don’t like to say goodbye either. I’d rather sleep before the sun goes down. Always go before the sun comes up. Don’t like to see the end of a movie, I usually walk out about halfway through. Won’t read the end of a book. I’ve never even had dessert. I just hate goodbyes.Our Host (laughs):
Well, Morgan, you got a serious problem. What are you running from, buddy? Morgan:
I’m not running, Bob, I just hate goodbyes.Our Host:
Well, listen to me. You gotta learn how to say goodbye. You gotta have closure. You gotta shut the doors! Otherwise, you’re gonna be haunted by ghosts. You’re going to have that half-finished feeling all of your life. You’re never going to feel you’re on solid ground. And you’re never going to have a worthwhile relationship. Take my advice, Morgan, learn how to say goodbye. Morgan? Hello? Hello, Morgan? Oh, Morgan. Our Host:
There’s no helping some people.
“Morgan” hates goodbyes so much that he leaves Mr. D. dangling before the end of the call, but his first name interests me more than his rude departure.
It's bye-bye, buddy, have to say it once again,
I appreciate your velvet helping hand.
Even though you never gave it,
I am sure you had to save it
for the gestures of the friends you understand. ~ “Morgan the Pirate,” Richard Fariña.
“Morgan the Pirate” was written by Fariña probably in response to Dylan’s own “Goodbye” song, “Positively Fourth Street,” which many people felt was aimed squarely at Richard. By the time “4th Street” was released Fariña and Dylan – who, if never the best of friends had spent a good amount of time together in the early `60s – were on the outs. The reasons ranged from Dylan’s treatment of Fariña’s sister-in-law, Joan Baez, to Fariña’s unconcealed jealousy about the younger Dylan “making it” not only in music but in Fariña’s first love, writing. While Fariña struggled to find a publisher for his first book, Albert Grossman had succeeded in selling Dylan’s book before he had written a word of it. In fact, “Tarantula” probably would have infuriated Fariña even more if he had lived to see it published, incoherent stream-of-consciousness meanderings that it was, with even Dylan embarrassed by it.
Theme Time Radio Hour associate producer Nina Fitzgerald-Washington once told me that starting with Season 2 and especially into Season 3, everything in the show
was designed to relate to the theme, from the most obscure bed music to the celebrity guest appearances. With Theme Time Radio Hour, as with anything in connection with Bob Dylan, there’s always the danger of reading too much into what he says, from off-handed remark to Biblical quote. But whether introduced by Eddie G., Fitzgerald-Washington or by Dylan himself, you have to wonder whether the name “Morgan” was deliberate, especially in the context of a “Goodbye” show.