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JEAN SHEPHERD –HALLELUJAH

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I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord.
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this–the fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

young shepI’ve  heard  there  was  a  secret cord

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Shepherd, Jean, 2, 31, 314; as actor, 335, 378, 449n14; ad-libbing of, 14; age, discrepancies over, 451n6; and American rituals, 250, 251, 252American slang, contribution to, 217, 218; on American society, 228,249, 250, 251, 252, 257, 258; in Army Signal Corps, 24, 64, 68; army stories of, 62, 63, 66, 67, 383; art of, 439; articles of, 15; artistic persona of, 20, 28; audience of, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 190Audio magazine column of, 151, 333; awards, recipient of, 423, 424; baseball, love of, 21, 169; beer, tribute to, 393; on Jack Benny, 100101; birth of, 23; bitterness of, 127, 246, 247, 371, 420; and Leigh Brown, 294, 295, 296, 297, 299, 300, 301, 41718, 419, 420, 421; and call-ins, 130; Car and Driver column of, 164, 332, 333, 340; cars, interest in, 164, 334, 392; characters of, 24, 72, 73; Chicago, growing up in, 17, 24, 38, 39, 42; childhood of, 14; childhood stories of, 26, 38, 41, 42, 45, 46, 47; children, attitude toward, 265; in Cincinnati, 72, 73441n2; at college, 69, 443n14; comics, influence on, 27, 272, 273, 274, 275, 319; common man, attitude toward, 106; as complex, 20, 429contradictory nature of, 190, 414, 415, 416, 434, 439; conversational style of, 32; as cool, 415; as creative liar, 38; and “creeping meatballism,” 158, 210, 261; cult following of, 127, 134; death of, 16, 407, 412, 421, 442n5, 451n6; difficult personality of, 178; as disc jockey, resentment, of term, 445n8; discharge of, 450n22; divorce of, 121; drawings of, 168, 329, 448n5; and Dream Collection Day, 241, 242early jobs of, 52, 53, 54, 443n10; early radio work of, 14, 140, 141, 144, 145, 345, 346, 441n2, 450n2; engineers, antagonism toward, 11288, 289, 290, 291, 44748n8; as enigma, 127, 436; and escargot story, 5761; estate of, 421, 422, 452n12; experience, appetite for, 161, 167fabrications of, 36, 45, 325, 442n6, 442n4, 448n1; as failure, 417; father of, 43, 49, 50, 51; favorite phrases of, 214; firing of, 11, 134135, 369, 371, 449n13; and Bobby Fischer, 433; in Florida, 24; flying, love of, 165, 198; folk instruments, use of, 205, 206; formative years of, 14; as gadfly, 253, 254; Herb Gardner, lawsuit against, 446n19; good food, delight in, 163; guests of, 153, 285; haiku, interest in, 338; and ham radio, 51, 52, 71, 209, 287, 447n5; Hammond, growing up in, 24, 28, 38, 39, 42, 56; and head thumping, 207, 208; and homosexuality, 271; hostility of, 219, 283; on humor, 88, 89, 91, 9293; humor, style of, 100, 331, 396; and I, Libertine hoax, 4, 15, 132, 133, 158; and improvisation, 131, 140, 150, 362; influence of, 10, 367, 372, 373, 424; influences on, 83, 84, 85; in-group, creating of, 10, 210; as insecure, 138, 180, 417; intimacy, sense of, 18, 181, 182, 259, 260; isolation of, 102, 191, 283, 340; jazz, on broadcasts, 181; jazz, influence of on, 15, 50, 140, 141, 142, 152, 153; jazz concerts, emcee at, 151, 152, 490 EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!158, 377; and Garrison Keillor, 451n3; John F. Kennedy, eulogy of, 107228, 35355, 35657, 44849n9 (Part 6); knee injury of, 443n12; knowledge, obsession with, 245; Kopfspielen, as master of, 24, 208; on Krapp’s Last Tape, 12; and Stanley Kubrick, 446n18; legacy of, 371, 372, 407; listeners, emotional attachment from, 14; live concerts of, 379; and Mad magazine, 333; Norman Mailer, obsession with, 33942; marriages of, 24, 73, 178, 265, 297, 299, 446n20, 446n21; mature radio work of, 345, 346, 347, 348, 350, 360, 361; memory of, 27, 34; memory, use of, 33, 35, 54; as mentor, 19, 182; metaphor, use of, 33Midwest, growing up in, 47; military service of, 62, 64; and “mills,” 137; and Charles Mingus, 144, 159, 445n12; misogyny of, 178, 179monologues, details of, 34; mother of, 48; motives of, 34; and movies, 4025; music, fascination with, 199; name, spelling of, 43, 4444950n15; and National Public Radio, 377, 384; in New York, 24, 79, 83, 115, 117, 122, 132, 158, 171; New York radio broadcasts of, 15; in New York Times, 334; “night people,” coining of, 131; nostalgic, accusations of, 112, 113; observation, talent for, 81, 233, 335; Og and Charlie, characters of, 235, 236, 237, 239; and opera, 200; as outsider, 310; parents of, 442n2; persona of, 24, 26, 30, 412, 450n1; in Philadelphia, 441n2; philosophy of life, 65, 219, 22125, 226, 23440, 244, 245, 410; in Playboy, 9, 42, 67, 114, 115, 320, 321, 334, 371376, 399; poetry, interest in, 336; and politics, 228, 229, 230; as private, 24, 162, 420; and radio, 10, 39, 74, 95, 9798, 324, 345, 351, 352362, 363, 370, 371, 411, 413; and radio, use of, 31; recordings of, 16, 125, 126, 38084; and religion, 228; remembering, as storytelling device, 35; retirement of, 24; rock and roll, dislike of, 202; self-confidence of, 410; as self-destructive, 410; as self-involved, 137, 178, 191209; and Shadows (film), 154; short stories of, 15, 114, 115; short story persona of, 12; sibling rivalries of, 48; and “slob art,” 203, 275, 276277, 278; as social critic, 101, 232; sound, use of, 195, 196, 197, 204, 205, 206, 207; sponsors, battles with, 11, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308309, 312; spontaneity of, 130; sports, love of, 169; sports metaphors, use of, 169, 170, 171; steel mill stories of, 54; stories of, 343; stories of, as allegories, 29; as storyteller, 12, 24546, 317; storytelling style of, 64, 86, 87, 324, 370; stream of consciousness style of, 13, 52, 77, 78139; style of, 124, 144, 184; talking, love of, 209, 285, 286; talk radio, as originator of, 9; technique of, 331; as teenager, 52, 57; and television, 9, 11, 79, 363, 38495, 396401, 450n19; theme song of, 146, 196, 197, 442n7; themes of, 13, 91, 320; travel, importance of, 165, 166167, 168; tributes to, 429; trivia, fascination with, 105, 106, 109; and true humor, 94; truth, embellishment of, 37; truth and fiction, confusion between, 29, 30; truthfulness of, 26, 28; as unhappy, 414; unique radio persona of, 16; Village Voice column of, 129, 158, 319, 339; and wgbhtv, arrival at, 450n20; women, hostility toward, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 298, 299; at wor, 121, 128, 129, 134, 135, 183, 210291, 292, 304, 310, 312, 360, 365, 371, 413, 428, 441n2, 449n13; and The Wonder Years, 331; words, importance of, 317; words, use of, 212213, 214, 215, 216, 217; work, tone of, 94; writing style of, as descriptive, 324. See also individual works of

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You say I took the name in vain.
I don’t even know the name,
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word,
It doesn’t matter which you heard,
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

leigh,shep 1977There’s  a  blaze  of  light  in  every  word

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I did my best, it wasn’t much,
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch.
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

classic shep imageWith  nothing  on  my  tongue  but  Hallelujah

.

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[Excerpted text from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”]

[Excerpted index from Excelsior, You Fathead!]

[Re: the song, see book: The Holy or the Broken by Alan Light]

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 ATTENTION!

I consider Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” a great masterpiece–even if it’s not quite coherent in most folks’ minds (mine included). HOWEVER! Just to undercut my own portentous  praise of it, I include my following Shep-inspired parody.  My apologies, Leonard.

There’s a pink flamingo on the lawn
It cost a buck and it looks forlorn
It’s just slob art but what’s it to ya?
I found it down at some yard sale
Now its upright in my chain-link jail
One-legged crooning hallelujah!

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2 Comments

  1. Mike from Jersey says:

    Dear Eugene,
    You magnificent bastard! Your take off on Hallelujah is worthy of Shep. Next time you are on WBAI with the Great Max, you two have to make a duet of it. Promise us and I will buy the first round at Flick Flickingers Hammond bar. Or is it still there? My Uncles used to drink there and said Flick was a sourpuss even at his best.

    • ebbergmann says:

      Dear Mike from Jersey,
      Your comment made me laugh out loud and gave me a case of the warm shivers! I’ve had nasty thoughts about pink flamingos on the lawn and chain link fences for lo these many years and it felt so good to be able to combine them so fortuitously in a piece of posey. I’d love to sing a Hallelujah duet with Max. I wonder which of us has the worser verse.

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