THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE
A Tragedy in Obdurate Acts
and Extenuating Circumstances
“It was unique and it was profound and it was real genius!”
The chart below should be seriously contemplated for comparison with Shepherd’s fine,
but less far-flung creative work, from 1960 onward.
One might title this period
High On a Mountaintop.
Jean Shepherd’s first years in New York, starting with the beginning of
his “overnight” broadcasting,
were an assorted fervor of glorious activities.
Below are some major examples.
♦Far-flung extemporaneous monologs, “invectives”♦
♦Within New York City’s highest levels of artistic activity connected with The Voice, Greenwich Village, the avant garde, etc. Shepherd associated with such as: Amram, Silverstein, Feiffer, Antheil, Gardner, Mingus.♦
♦Look, Charlie theater piece ♦
♦Cassavetes and the promotion of Shadows♦
♦Village Voice and The Realist♦
♦I, Libertine and The America of George Ade♦
♦Promoter and participant in the forefront of modernist jazz♦
♦As Lois Nettleton put it, “He had headlines!”♦
Jean Shepherd must have felt himself to be an
innovative master of the highest
modern urban/urbane arts
–and rightly so.
The above list is extraordinary and unprecedented. A major problem is that we have as yet no available examples of his early 1956, overnight, four-and-a-half-hour shows to give us a reasonable idea of what they were like–we can only assume, for now, that they were probably similar to and even more loose than his subsequent four-hour Sunday night broadcasts. My impression is that he played some extended–if not complete–cuts of the major jazz masters of this period. (Talking from 1 AM to 5:30 five or six nights a week most probably was a bit different from Sundays only, 9 PM to 1 AM.)
I repeat here, from an earlier post: In an interview with Doug McIntyre, January 2000, (Just a few months after Shep’s death) Lois Nettleton commented that Jean’s improvisation on radio was a higher art than acting:
“…acting is not shallow, it is an art with depth and all of that,
but it seems almost–almost, less profound,
less important than what he was doing.
I mean I think what he was doing was so–
it was unique and it was profound and it was real genius!”
Stay tuned for Part 4 of
THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE