Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: While watching a standup routine on the Comedy Channel, one of the bits I heard has created my need for your expertise.

The comedian talked about growing up in the Midwest, and how rough the winters were there.

He said it was not unusual for him to wake up in the morning and find two or three feet of snow had fallen overnight. Then he would go to the window and discover it was even deeper outside!

Definitely a funny story, but as soon as I heard the punch line I immediately recalled hearing pretty much the same joke by a male singer in a tune played on the radio in the 1960s.

No one I ask knows anything whatsoever about such a song. Can you confirm my recollection?
—Sandy Billingsley, Helena, Mont.

DEAR SANDY: Living where you do, I'll bet you can relate to this snowy scenario.

Since it is unlikely more than one song ever used this tale, and with that one being a regional hit in 1968, I'd say the confirmation you seek is a given.

The recording is “The Girl from the Next Farm Over,” by Wes Helm (Chart 1037). Here then is the story, as first told to him by his mother, about surviving the brutal winters she faced as a teenager:

“I was talkin' to the girl from the next farm over from my dad when he was a boy.

“And according to her, the kid had a rough way to go. 'Cause my dad and the girl from the next farm over lived the farthest away from school. Hey, they had to walk 23 miles through the snow.

“Well, according to the girl from the next farm over from my dad when he was a boy, you know she'd wake up in the morning and the snow was two feet high.

“She would jump out of bed, run over to the window and wish she had a ride. 'Cause don't you know it was even deeper outside.

“But if it wasn't for the snow and the rough way to go, I might not be here today. 'Cause as a general rule on the way to school, they'd cuddle up and keep warm that way.

“And according to the girl from the next farm over, who later became my mom, some days they never made it all the way to school.

“What daddy didn't learn from sittin' in a class, he learned on the way to school.

“ 'Cause if you saw my mama, you'd see my daddy ain't no fool.”

We don't know whether the comic you saw picked up the bit from the song, or was inspired by its use long before. It sure sounds like something from a Burns and Allen or Groucho Marx routine.

Here is a convenient video link where you can acquaint, or reacquaint, yourself with this song:

DEAR JERRY: Only recently have I come to appreciate the progressive style of Tangerine Dream, and now I have all seven of their charted vinyl albums.

Still, I find no appearance by them on any singles survey. Did they not issue 45s?
—Hugo Hollis, Lansing, Mich.

DEAR HUGO: Tangerine Dream, for those unlike yourself who may think we're talking about a popsicle, is a German synthesist rock band. Edgar Froese formed the band in Berlin in 1967.

Those seven audacious albums making the U.S. charts are: “Phaedra” (1974); “Stratosfear” (1977); “Sorcerer” (1977); “Encore” (1977); “Thief” (1981); “Exit” (1981); and “Legend” (1986). Coincidentally, each of these has a one-word title.

The Dream's lengthy cosmic anthems are best appreciated on long play albums, though from 1977 through '87 they did issue eight singles, six being commercial releases and two made specifically for use by dee jays.

A three-minute record simply isn't the appropriate showcase for TD's intergalactic-passion music, thus none of the singles charted.

IZ ZAT SO? Of the seven LPs named above, “Sorcerer” and “Thief” are soundtracks, and the first two of that genre by TD. Between 1982 and 2003, another 30 soundtrack albums would be added to their discography. Overall, Tangerine Dream's music is heard in nearly 70 films, videos, and audio novels.

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