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Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security

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Senator McCarthy Blues, The: Hal Block with the Tony Borrello Orchestra [1954]

This hilarious obscurity was inspired by the Army-McCarthy anti-Communist hearings, a media circus that riveted the nation in 1954. Broadcast "gavel to gavel" on the ABC and DuMont networks, the hearings conducted by our favorite drunken maniac from Wisconsin, Senator Joseph McCarthy, became an obsession for many and one of the first such spectacles on the young medium of television. Ostensibly, McCarthy instigated the spectacle to investigate security lapses in the army, but after 35 days of viewing the lawmaker's petty Red-baiting witch hunt, the American public turned on him. And so did his fellow senators, voting 67 to 22 to "condemn" him for various offenses against the Senate and the investigating panel for the hearings. Subequent congressional dramas such as the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings are all but descendants of this momentous and embarrassing event. McCarthy died at the age of 48 from liver damage, just three years after his televised humilation.

Note: One of the most famous rebukes ever uttered in the history of political discourse occurred during these hearings when the senior attorney representing the army, Joseph Welch, admonished McCarthy for entering gratuitous material into the record about one of his junior co-counsels. The bullying senator had been accusing the young attorney of having been a member of a supposedly leftist organization. Welch, who had finally heard enough, stated with indignation: "Let's us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

The tune takes as its focus a husband whose spouse has become so absorbed in the televised hearings that she has begun to ignore her wifely duties such as doing the dishes, mopping the floor and playing Scrabble with her flustered hubby. The song is presented as a kind of multi-voiced mini-opera with strange and wonderful pop cultural wordplay.

Hal Block was born in 1913 in the Chicago, Illinois area where, as a young man, he wrote material for stand-up comics. He also reportedly wrote a column for 'The Chicago Daily News.' During World War II Block served as a gag writer with the Office Of War Information and toured with Bob Hope, for a time, entertaining the troops. In the early '50s Block appeared on several game shows, including most notably, 'What's My Line.' According to Gil Fates' 1978 book ‘What's My Line?: The Inside History Of TV's Most Famous Panel Show,' Block was fired by the show's producers in 1953 because they found his humor too unpolished. In a May 15, 1953 interview with 'TV Guide' one of those producers, Bill Todman, commented on the fired panelist: "Hal was never able to live with the idea of being a celebrity. When he started the show, he had no trouble at all. But after a little publicity…" (Quote ends in source). Block died in 1981 and it is unclear what he did after 'What's My Line?'

LYRICS/TRANSCRIPTION:
Senator McCarthy Blues, The: Hal Block with the Tony Borrello Orchestra [1954]

Spoken: Mr. Chairman, please
Point of order, please, point of order, please
Can I finish, please?

Singing:
I've got those Senator McCarthy, Chairman Mundt,
McLellen, Potter, Senator Dirksen Blues

Because my gal won't leave her TV set,
I think that she's about to blow her fuse
I've got those open session, closing session,
End the session, no confession blues

I've got the Secretary Stevens,
Don't remember, just can't place it blues
I've got those mitsa meya, mama mia,
(Mr. secretary, please!)
Sorry Senator, I was in Korea blues
I've got those hey, reporter, no recorder,
Close the border (point of order!) blues

And she's got the dishes in the sink,
And her floor ain't mopped, too
She's got the washin' in the washer
She don't care what DUZ* will do
‘Cause once she that Welch get with those legal torts
She just yells, "Beat me, daddy ‘till I'm a habeas corpse."

Spoken: Can I finish? Can I, can I finish, please?

Can you finish? Look, I've got those Senator McCarthy,
I, I've just, I've got those blues ‘till I can burst
Now, I don't know what it's all about
Or where or when or who's on first?

Spoken: Can I finish, I'd like to say something please

I've got the stop the babble, let's play Scrabble,
Mommy, mommy where's the Commie blues

Spoken: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, please!

I've got those Senator McCarthy,
Listen gal you're husband's getting jealous blues
Now you better do a little house work
Or there's a certain man you're gonna lose
So better turn off those hearings
Before your man gets touchy
And be content to spend the day
With Groucho Marx and Liberace

Oh, here's the moral of the story
And this you ought to know
A good man of your own
Is better than a daytime TV show
Now if you got your man
McCarthy sure won't mind

Spoken: Can I finish, can I finish?

I'm finishing, it's the finish to the program called "What's My Shine?"

Spoken: This record is adjourned until 10:30 tomorrow

Is that all, Senator?

Can I finish, please, can I finish?

Oh, not again. Oh!

I'd like finish, can I finish? I'd like to finish, Can I finish, please?

We're finished

*DUZ was a famous brand of wash detergent. Its advertising slogan was "DUZ does everything!"

Hal Block with the Tony Borrello Orchestra [1954]
The Senator McCarthy Blues
(Hal Block)
Jubilee 5149

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