Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jean Shepherd:
"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!"

Although best-known as writer and narrator of the classic 1983 holiday movie, A CHRISTMAS STORY, Jean Shepherd began a long radio career in 1948. He was not a traditional DJ who kept silent while playing records; he was a monologist who carefully chose music beds to underscore his unique narrative style. At least twice he pontificated over Raymond Scott:

  In 1965 Shep, fascinated by Scott's SOOTHING SOUNDS FOR BABY electronic lullaby series, built an entire program theme around it, according SSFB perhaps its only airplay until the CD reissues more than 3 decades later: listen here.

  The following year, Shep delivered one of his trademark rants about amusement parks as he spun "In An 18th Century Drawing Room," which Scott composed in 1937: listen here.


  1. Very cool and good to learn--Shep was my favorite radio guy during a long period from the late 50's through the 60's. Had no idea he was an RS promoter, though it's not really surprising, he definitely was a visionary.

    Stan Warnow

  2. I was a devoted listener to Shep during the 1960s. He was a genius at storytelling and a vivid, humorous chronicler of American foibles. When he died in 1999, I edited a WFMU staff page of reminiscences about his influence. Here's my thumbnail bio and a personal chronicle (third down the page). When the SSFB monologue was called to my attention by WFMU's Dave ("The Spazz") Abramson a few years ago, I felt a twinge of pride at the nexus of two personal heroes (three, if you include Dave).

  3. thanks for sharing all of this. someone i have to learn about, and can begin to with the links here...

  4. I've been marveling over this since I first saw it. It's as if all the people who were working on the edges of popular culture at that time were aware of each other.

    And perhaps they were. They certainly all were"night people" as described by Shepherd in this classic article for Mad magazine.