SFX, December 31, 2011

Neil S. Blaisdell Center Concert Hall

Honolulu, HI


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GK: Our sound effects man Mr. Fred Newman is generally acknowledged as one of the best sound effects men in radio today.

FN: ONE OF???? ONE OF?

GK: Certainly right up there at or near the top......

FN: GENERALLY acknowledged?

GK: Among those in the know, Fred is considered to be very near the summit of the Sound Effects profession, and that’s why rival radio shows are constantly trying to lure him away.

TR: This is Robert Siegel. We have a story about a helicopter landing in a giant tank of orange Jell-O. Can you do that?

FN: No problem!!! (SFX)

GK: Other shows have tried to lure Fred with various perks such as a personal limo....

FN: Greenwich, Ramon. And step on it. (CAR DOOR CLOSE, ACCEL)

GK: A personal limo with a Mixmaster to make blended drinks (SFX) and a shower and Jacuzzi (SFX), and a nail buffer (SFX), and a padded cage for Fred’s pet rooster Jasper (SFX).

FN: Oh yeah. This is the life. (PHONE RINGS) Hang on. (PICKUP) Hello?

TR (IRA, ON PHONE): This is Ira Glass, This American Life. We’re doing a story on the hipster rebellion and we’re wondering if you could do an espresso machine.

GK: Do an espresso machine!! Fred Newman is the Michelangelo of the espresso machine ----- he can do a female espresso machine (SFX), he can do a French espresso machine (SFX), a Southern espresso machine (SFX), he can make an espresso machine sing (SFX) ---- he is the King of Espresso.

So we’ve tried to hold onto Fred by showering him with perks. A ping-pong table in his dressing room (SFX), a separate dressing room for his Tibetan guru Makshi (SFX), a flat-screen TV for him to watch NASCAR races on (SFX), a lot of luxury hair products (SFX), in foams (SFX) and sprays (SFX) and gels (SFX) and a juicer that can liquefy a whole side of beef (SFX).

GK: We have done everything we could for Fred. But sometimes some big movie producer comes along and throws a bundle of money at him and Fred can’t resist.

TR: Here’s the deal. World War I. Christmas Eve. German and British troops in the trenches, blazing away at each other. And then they hear a bagpipe playing O Tannenbaum and the guns go silent and the men stand and listen to the Christmas song and there is weeping and they climb out of the trenches and into No Man’s Land and a British colonel asks a sergeant, What’s that song? And the sergeant says, Tannenbaum, and so the colonel orders a plane to come in and bomb them. Think you can do that?

FN: Can I? (CHUCKLES)

GK: And Fred goes to Hollywood and does the scene.

(CANNONS. BAGPIPE PLAYING, WITH MORE CANNONS. THEN CANNONS STOP. BANJO PLAYS. SHUFFLING. FOOTSTEPS. CROWD MOVING THROUGH MUD. BAGPIPE. PLANE APPROACHES FROM DISTANCE, FLIES OVER LOW. BOMB FALLS, DETONATES.)

TR: CUT! CUT! Beautiful! Beautiful! (MULTIPLE KISSES ON CHEEK)

(MUSIC)

GK: Fred was earning major money in Hollywood until the day he did a scene in a Jack Nicholson picture in which the actor faces down a feral ninja cat. Fred was hired to do the cat (SFX). But Fred had the hiccups.

TR (JACK): Let me tell you something, ya little greasy furball. You come after me and I’m gonna stomp on you and use you for a Frisbee. You read me, Fishbreath?

(THREATENING GUTTURAL MEOW, THEN HICCUP)

FN: SORRY! Can I take that again?

TR (JACK): Let me tell you something, ya little greasy furball. You come after me and I’m gonna stomp on you and use you for a Frisbee. You read me, Fishbreath?

(DEEP NINJA MEOW, BIGGER HICCUP)

FN: ONE MORE TAKE. PLEASE. Please.......

TR (JACK): Third takes are for stars, cat man. You’re not a star, you’re a mouth. And I’m shutting it. (STING)

GK: So Fred came back to radio. A hiccup finished his movie career. Even though he could do storks (SFX) and cars going off cliffs (SFX) and laser swords (SFX) and killer Holsteins (SFX) and talking horses (SFX), movies wuldn’t hire him because he held up a production for a hiccup. But he can do those sounds on the radio. And he can sing on our show.

FN (SINGS):
I am the guy who does the sound effects
Boats and trains and major auto wrecks
I own a mansion with a tile roof
Because I woof, because I woof.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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