Home » General subjects. Excelsior, you Fathead! » JEAN SHEPHERD–Someday my (over)nights will come!

JEAN SHEPHERD–Someday my (over)nights will come!


Generally considered to be the “holy grails” in the world of Shep are audios of Jean Shepherd’s “overnight shows” from early January 1956 to mid-August 1956. Some people claim to have heard some of these shows that went from about 1 AM to 5:30 AM at least Monday through Friday. These shows included the I, Libertine hoax from first mention onward, almost to publication day in the fall. Lois Nettleton used to listen to the the overnights and got to know Jean by calling him while he was on the air. That led to dating and then to marriage.

It’s my understanding that the overnights, compared to the 45-minute shows most people are familiar with, were more slowly paced, more loosely constructed with stream of conscious effects, more extended musical interludes with more contemporary jazz components. And that the closest we have to them are the Sunday evening shows that went from nine to one AM. To compare them artistically with the 45-minute shows (If we ever have the chance), may be somewhat a matter of taste. But I think they’re important not only for their content, but to be able to hear how his later radio style may have evolved out of this earliest New York work.

Various major figures such as Jack Kerouac and John Cassavetes among others were early enthusiasts.  A major jazz critic is quoted as saying that he not only listened but recorded at least some of these shows and still has the audios–but he’s too busy to do anything with them. Have the tapes crumbled to dust, have they been tossed into a dumster, oh, major jazz critic?

I understand that to ask a commercial technician to convert 7″ tape reels to digital format (onto CD disks) is outrageously expensive. I would think that the jazz critic or some Shep enthusiast would have access to a much-reduced cost of doing this.

In hopes that some overnights will someday show up before all record of them has vanished,  in one of my odd moments, even before my Shep’s Army became a reality, dreaming a favorite dream, I thought I’d design potential CD case covers for distribution:

n.JS overnight CD 2


o.JS overnight CD case 1

Dream on, little Genie,

you fathead!




  1. mygingerpig says:

    It was the “overnight” program that hooked me on Shep. I remember struggling to stay awake. I guess I was 14-15 years old. I recall them vividly.

  2. mygingerpig says:

    These are vague impressions. He often talked in a languid, cool voice. It was different from the voice we know on the shorter programs. He affected a hip, cool persona of the beatnik. He had riffs of cool jazz playing behind him. He sometimes talked to a “chick” calling her “baby” and we would hear his side of the conversation, and his response to something the imaginary “baby” said to him. I don’t remember if he told specific stories with a beginning, middle and end, as he did on the 45 minute shows, but I vaguely recall he did. These long programs did not have a single theme, but were like a collection of long solos strung together with a loose melody. I also recall he did not overtly speak to kids or about kids the ways he came to do later. The monologue seemed pitched to an older, hipper audience compared to his later shows.

  3. mygingerpig says:

    Here is a segment from a 1959 program, talking to “baby” using expressions like “you dig.” This is very much as I remember the overnight shows….He is complaining to this chick about things that he’s pissed off about…and she isn’t listening to him..He’s yelling at her…he uses New Orleans blues music…It is the kind of material I find hard to imagine him doing in the later 45 minute programs. “It’s all a big joke” is his complaint….

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