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July 9, 2014 / thackersam

July 9 – Dick Cavett

Cavett & JanisRemember my first dilemma when I found that the next album on deck to exercise to was George Carlin’s comedy album AM/FM? I’m reminded of that today as I try to express thanks to Dick Cavett for all he’s done for rock ‘n roll, and what he’s done for me as a rock fan. One of Carlin’s skits is an homage to Ed Sullivan, whom I have mentioned a number of times before for those of you who are too young to rememberT. Sullivan was important to rock ‘n roll, and while he looked like the proverbial stuffed shirt, he knew about the vast world of entertainment. He brought us Elvis and the Beatles and the Stones, and so many other groups that performed on his stage (now the stage on which David Letterman performs, at least until sometime next year) throughout the years he was on. And let’s not forget his role, his acting role in Bye Bye Birdie, in which the song “Hymn for a Sunday Evening” is an ode to him.

In Carlin’s bit called “Ed Sullivan Self Taught,” he talks about the fact that after 23 years on the air, The Ed Sullivan Show was canceled during summer reruns so nobody knew that the last show of that season was the last show ever. Carlin said: “I would’ve liked to have been there just to say ‘Thanks Ed.’ Thanks for all the crazy acts. Thanks for the Beatles…” Ed Sullivan allowed us to see our rock ‘n roll icons perform, as did the late Dick Clark and Johnny Carson, but Dick Cavett allowed us to talk to them, and have them talk to us using Cavett as a conduit. He brought us some of the biggest names in rock ‘n roll at the time, and while he didn’t look like a rocker himself, far from it, he came across as someone genuinely interested in the stories they had to tell. He didn’t just have them on once, have them perform their latest hits and leave, he had conversations many times with the likes of Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John and Yoko. He listened and so did we. We got into their heads and they were happy to share. And the respect seemed mutual.

I have three specific Dick Cavett Show memories. First, there was the Woodstock show that featured guests The Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and David Crosby (where Graham Nash was, I don’t know), during which Crosby said his astrological sign was Leo and Joni Mitchell remarked that he looked like a lion. Not a monumental memory, but it stuck in my head. There was another time when Jimi Hendrix couldn’t converse because he said he was tired and left. I thought he was just rude, but it turned out he was just very high, and Cavett had him back again for a more lively chat. This is not rock related, but Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman), who had once been married to Woody Allen, was the guest and brought up that while married to Allen, Cavett would be a frequent dinner guest and he ate so slow that both Lasser and Allen would leave Cavett at the table still eating, and go watch television. I could relate. I too was once an excruciatingly slow eater, and would often find myself out for dinner with friends who would have moved on to dessert while I was still eating my main course. One of my friends had said that I was so thin because by the time I was done eating I was probably already fully digested. Also, going without dessert in favor of finishing my meal didn’t hurt.

Anyway, on behalf of rock ‘n roll fans everywhere, particularly we younger baby boomers, I’d like to say Thank You Dick Cavett. Thanks for the many wonderful conversations, and I loved you in Beetlejuice.

Cavett show

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