Thursday, February 10, 2011


Lee De Forest
Friends and neighbors, you never know what you can learn.  You have to pay attention, though.  It's said that radio pioneer Lee De Forest was a very sloppy man, and lived in a house so full of junk and old radio parts that friends who came to call often went away, believing that he was not at home.

From this, we get the old expression "You can't see DeForest for debris."

Speaking of which, there's a song by Harry Nilsson called "Good Old Desk."   It was on his album "Aerial Ballet," which he named in honor of his grandparents, who were Swedish circus performers who did an act called Aerial Ballet on trapezes.  I learned that by watching the documentary on Nilsson called Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him) and you know what else I learned from watching that DVD?
Harry Nilsson

The Good Old Desk he was talking about stood for GOD! Now, Harry went on to lead an interesting life.  When he first came to notice as a songwriter, he was working the 3-11 shift at a bank in Los Angeles.  Back when computers were new-fangled, he was one of the new fanglers, and he stuck with that bank job until The Monkees recorded "Cuddly Toy."  Then, he felt safe to go into show business full time, and he did some good business for a few years, but fell into an embarrassing lifestyle of drinking and drugging and getting thrown out of nightclubs along with his running buddy John Lennon for heckling The Smothers Brothers.  I mean, really.  

It was a shame that he fell to that depth, but by the time of his death in 1994 (aged 53) he had come back from bankruptcy, a blown-out vocal cord and a sharp drop in record sales to have a happy marriage, complete with six kids who adore him to this day along with his widow.  

And now I listen to the Good Old Desk song:

My old desk does an arabesque, in the morning when I first arrive.
It’s a pleasure to see it's waiting there for me to keep my hopes alive.
Such a comfort to know it’s got no place to go, it’s always there.
It’s the one thing I’ve got, a huge success, my Good Old Desk.

My old desk never needs a rest, and I’ve never once heard it cry.

I’ve never seen it tease, it’s always there to please me from nine to five.
Such a comfort to know, it's dependable and slow, but it’s always there.
It’s the one friend I’ve got, a giant of all times, my Good Old Desk.

My old desk isn’t picturesque, but it’s happy as a desk can be.

We never say a word, but it’s perfectly alright with me.

For when my heart's on the floor, I just open the drawer of my favorite guest.
And what do I see? But a picture of me working at my Good Old Desk.

And I realize what he meant, all those years ago, before his life became an aerial pandemonium.  Nice to see the spiritual message behind a happy kinda song. Hope is always alive. 

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