Long Day's Journey Into Night

Friday, December 05, 2008


Every so often there comes a study with findings that simply cannot be conveyed adequately in words alone. These occasions call for a musical journey, an exploration of the destructive impact of media consumption habits through the irrepressible power of song. This is one of those times.

Comments [34]


See, this is what I love about the show... thanks to On The Media, I can be informed about all the crap that could potentially be rotting my brain if I were actually watching/reading/hearing it. Since I'm not, it's the only way I know what I'm missing. Thank you On The Media. You do all the work for this misanthropologist.

Hey, you ever eaten acid and watched CSPAN? Scary stuff, I tell you.

Dec. 17 2008 12:33 AM
Jon Dryden from Brooklyn, yo

I thought it was absolutely brilliant, like everything else with the show. That piano player was great too.

Dec. 15 2008 04:01 PM
F. Wintergreen from Florida

What kind of mutant could possibly enjoy that drek?

I already find there to be too much editorializing on the show. (I care about the interview subjects but couldn't give a damn about what Garfield thinks about...well, anything.)

This song was both chillingly unlistenable and dreadfully unfunny. Most of all, it broke a cardinal sin...it was boring.

Please, the audience endures the smugness of the hosts because the stories are typically well-produced and provide points of view that can't be found anywhere else, but it's time to get over yourselves and realize we're here for the content, not the aggressively irritating hosts. The less we hear of them, in any context, the better.

Dec. 13 2008 04:58 AM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ

Oh, the humanity!!!

Actually, it was at least as good as the last 3 Sondheim shows.

Dec. 11 2008 03:36 PM
Bob Bedolla from San Francisco

Ignore all the comments from the obvious music haters and people with no joy in their little lives. I loved the tuneful rendition of the Media Study results.

And I want to say one more thing before I go. Bob, you are still sounding a little self-conscious whenever you say "And edited by Brooke." Ever since being accused of sounding smarmy I think that you have always stumbled over that line. Please, go back to the smarmy. Smarmy is in the ear of the listener, you never sounded smarmy.

Dec. 11 2008 01:50 PM
Guido Stein from Boston, MA

I loved the big closing number to today's show... I think all shows should end in song and dance, regardless how sad the songs are.. :)

Dec. 10 2008 11:53 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Oh, yeah, to show the Shubert had no hard feelings, they hired me and one of the chorus later to be dead bodies in the curtain call of "Arsenic and Old Lace", my only Equity contract and my professional stage debut. I'm fairly certain they still have the subsidy.

As hypocrisy goes, it isn't trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and no singing required.

Dec. 10 2008 02:57 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Mark Johnson is going one step further with his Playing for Change project. He had me picking up my harmonica to play and sing with musicians around the world on “Stand By Me” and I haven’t played in ten years.

I’m confident I’ve written that I made my television singing debut on our local news. I know that I didn’t mention that my partner in the duet portion of “What Do The Simple Folk Do?” at a protest of city (as opposed to rich suburban tax payers who could afford tickets, as well) subsidy of the finally reopened, famed Shubert Theater’s production of “Camelot” was Elizabeth Walker, who played the main character in “The World Of Henry Orient”, if not the star of the Peter Sellers vehicle, and the ingénue to replace Mia Farrow on “Peyton Place”. Then there was the chorus, of course. Talk about being overmatched.

I saw the Bill Moyers’ piece as well, Brooke, and you were great but you spoke too quickly for my 92-year old Mom. I was terrified that Bob Mueller’s reverie was going to end with Bob Garfield tearing away his breakaway sweatshirt to…

I loved it!

(Forgive the typos, I've been awake far too long due to poor health.)

Dec. 10 2008 02:34 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

O.K., criticism on the serious side, your headline contradicts the study in one major way, if I interpret your lyrics correctly, Bob. The one health effect left out in the headline which I make out there is one I consider, if not the most major (since gun violence as often involved), is criminality. That is a major health risk, indeed, and probably as dangerous as smoking, childhood obesity, and especially unprotected sex.

I was mildly overweight when I was, perhaps, 8 until age 17. My Dad started selling chocolate to schools and organizations out of our home. Then, I left for a brief stint at college. I can’t blame it on media.

I’ve smoked since I was 16, same brand as Dad, though for different reasons and he quit. It had nothing really to do with Joe Camel. I’m not proud of it.

There was some petty criminality in my past and some petty political criminality, some of which I have described previously, here. No Weather Underground type stuff.

Three out of four isn’t good but, whether intentionally or not, I avoided one.

On the other issue, many diverse singers, Pete Seeger and Odetta in recent interviews, have mourned the once prevalent American value of meeting and singing together, so I applaud any chance we have to hear authentic voices, trained and practice or and, especially, raw ones to join the chorus.

Dec. 10 2008 02:28 AM
Nancy from Madison WI

I must say that your singing commentary was the bravest endeavor I have ever heard on public radio--and I go back a lo-o-o-n-n-g way! Thanks for baring it all for us!!!

Also, thanks for a breath of fresh air in news commentary. I enjoy every episode I catch. Your show is interesting, intelligent, and timely on a regular basis. I actually use some of your stuff in my higher education classes!

Dec. 08 2008 03:46 PM
Bob Mueller from Wisconsin

Remembering "Mr. Garfiled goes to Hollywood," I immediately thought 'Bob penned that one', and whaddya know...!

As much as I tried to help it, the radio just took my imagination hostage... and ... I saw in my head the studio lights brightening, the background being pulled away to reveal a gleaming stage with pianist at a grand (all in white, course!), Brooke stepping up in a sequened (oh please, stop!) gown and matching long gloves, Bob pulling a rip-away sweatshirt to reveal a tux (no..stop!), top hat and cane...and then...oh... the dancing! (gasp!).

Really though, it was pretty charming. Really. I wouldn't mind more of that. Just, please, a little warning next time, so I can prepare!

Dec. 08 2008 03:16 PM
Thom Brown III from New York

Nice key change too!

Dec. 08 2008 02:02 PM
Thom Brown III from New York

Bob . . . Brook . . . Bravo!

Maybe a weekly segment in song? I think you should compose a piece on CNN's new hologram kitsch in the genre of slam poetry . . .

(Proceeds may be sent to my PayPal account.)

Click HERE to agree

Thank you for making "On the Media" increasingly my most-loved podcast!


Dec. 08 2008 01:57 PM
April Silver from Brooklyn, NY

Great job on the song!

Dec. 08 2008 11:19 AM
Tony Indriolo from Memphis, TN

Wonderful! Clever, witty, and very gutsy. Brooke can really sing and Bob was prtty good. I can relate, I sound about the same when I sing. Do not let the negative comments deter you from doing this agian, should the need and/or desire arise.

Dec. 08 2008 10:44 AM
David Green from Morenci, Mich.

Brilliant. And gutsy to even attempt it.

Dec. 07 2008 08:02 PM
Steven J Rubin from Toledo, Ohio

I believe Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel is Rahm Emanuel's brother. Check it out.

Dec. 07 2008 07:15 PM
T. Kit Carson from Richmond, VA

I hate to say it, but I think you guys have rightfully stolen the laurels from Daniel Schorr's rendition of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime." More! NPR has broadway ambitions on its mind, obviously. Bring back Radio Broadway, but with your newscaster personalities writing the lyrics and most importantly, singing them. Move over Colbert, you put the RPN back in CABARET! A Texas Tech Guns UP to you!

Dec. 07 2008 05:04 PM
Ann Carroll from NYC

I LOVED your singing - both of you! Had to find you online & play "Night & Day"again.
I regularly listen to your smart show.
Saw Brooke once on Bill Moyers.

Dec. 07 2008 03:25 PM


Dec. 07 2008 02:54 PM
Cary from New Haven

As one of the researchers who produced this study, I applaud you for the most creative approach to disseminating the results to date! Perhaps our next study will be to determine the impact of the song on the media habits and health of your listeners...

Dec. 07 2008 12:14 PM
mercedes from New York

Toa all of you who didn't enjoy the duet, please sing your criticisms. No matter how scratchy or out of tune, I'll listen and just may be more willing to smile.

Dec. 07 2008 11:12 AM
mercedes from New York

Applause!! Applause!! I smiled thorugh the whole song--and am still smiling. Thanks.

Dec. 07 2008 11:04 AM
Robert from NYC

Please don't sing anymore? Pleeeeeeeeeeeze. Thank you.

Dec. 07 2008 10:58 AM
Bob Garfield

So simple. I wrote the song, toggling between the word document and the study results. That was soooo the easy part.
Next our producers found a YouTube rendition of the song, which I used as a scratch track -- i.e., I listened to the performer in my headphones and sang into the mike, so I could approximate the melody. This is because, as you have long since discovered I can't sing. Then the next easy part, Brooke -- who has a wonderful voice -- and pianist John Dryden got into the process. John played in the studio and Brooke sang her parts. Then we decided to have me sing live with them. That was a vivid experience. They are musicians. I am pathetic. I am as flat as the heartland.
When that was done, our technical director Jen Munson took my worst takes and replaced them with my best takes from the earlier recording session. Voila! A perfect desecration of Cole Porter's enduring genius.

Dec. 07 2008 10:33 AM

It was amusing for about the first 8 seconds - then it hurt my ears.

Dec. 07 2008 10:24 AM
Dan Nite from Richmond Va

I'm not gonna lie, I've listened to that song a whole lot. Could we get a blogpost or a podcast addendum on the creative process? It's catchy and hilarious.

Dec. 07 2008 12:54 AM
Mike Lafleur from Charlotte, NC

That was great! Do it again!

Dec. 06 2008 09:45 PM
chuck thompson from Anchorage, AK

Brooke was correct when she uttered those two prophetic words: "Uh oh."

Dec. 06 2008 12:47 PM
jonny goldstein from philly

The horror. The horror.

Dec. 06 2008 10:36 AM
Paul from Pittsburgh, PA

From a musician's point of view: you communicated nothing but pain.

Please don't do that again.

Great show, by the way.

Dec. 06 2008 08:00 AM
Johanna from Bloomington, IL

Please post a transcript of the song on the website. I was unable to determine or distinguis the lyrics - and have no idea what the song was about. Thanks.

Dec. 06 2008 07:56 AM
Peli from Silver Spring, MD


Brooke - allowed to break into song whenever she wishes
Bob - Not allowed to even hum

Great show (as usual) and a nice touch of light-heartedness.

I assume Brooke and Bob wrote the lyrics (with melody provided by Cole Porter). Well done.

Dec. 06 2008 07:31 AM
rayy from Akron, OH

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face early in the morning--you guys rock! WHat's next--Dancing with the Stars? I hope you will consider it!

Dec. 06 2008 07:05 AM

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