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Look What They've Done.to My Song Ma
Can a Reagan tribute and Rage Against the Machine Mix?  
By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T. 

Who says that Bakersfield is not on the cutting edge in terms of creative verve?  I wrote the song, “Grievin for the Gipper” out of reverence and respect for Ronald Reagan, a man larger than life, a man who altered the course of history in profound and enduring ways.   The song was initially aired in its original, unaltered form, and it was aired with my blessing.  Suddenly I heard the song being played on the radio in a drastically altered form!  I hardly recognized it.  I was in shock, and the first thing that came to my head was another tune, recorded years earlier by another artist, “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma.” Imagine my horror when it became apparent that Ralph Bailey of the Ralph Bailey Show on KNZR radio 1560 and his producer, Nick Novac, were making light of the song with what could have easily been interpreted as mocking, if, endearing, back-up vocals of their own added to the original mix. Imagine my horror when I learned that producer Nick Novac began mixing the song with Rage Against the Machine music.
 
Actually, my response was quite the opposite.  I was impressed with the creative edginess of the two mavericks of AM talk radio.  

As I mentioned to these wacky local radio personalities in an email, I believe that if Ronald Reagan, The Gipper, was paying attention, he was probably smiling down from heaven, and perhaps even chuckling.  He certainly wasn’t rolling over in his grave with angst.  Taking creative liberties with music is the hallmark of artistic advance.  It was done when a couple of production engineers began to mix Neil Diamonds “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore” with Barbra Streisand’s version and ended up producing a number one duet. Pat Boone did it with In a Metal Mood when he took old hard rock classics and re-released them with a big band treatment. Of course the critics absolutely trashed him for this bold, experimental risk.  Yet that was at the same time when modern music had become unbearably stale and there was a surfeit of hackneyed Nirvana-alike-songs airing. Another example of the type of creative liberties that Ralph Bailey and Nick Novac took with “Grievin for the Gipper” is DJ Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album.  That album, an instant Internet hit, involved DJ Danger Mouse mixing the words from rapper Jay-Z’s Black Album with chords and rhythms from the Beatles classic White Album.   Of course I am not worthy to have my song juxtaposed with songs of the caliber that I’ve mentioned, but I was indeed honored to have material I wrote for the Gipper considered grist for the mill for the creative minds of these innovative masters of the mix.  

***A free download of “Grievin for the Gipper” is now available to all Phantom Tollbooth readers and may be accessed via the following link: http://www.drblt.com/freesong.htm
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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