Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is the way I heard it, the only five minute podcast that takes an hour to listen to this episode number one, 83, and it's called Play That Funky Music White Boy.
The episode has absolutely nothing to do with Wild Cherry or Rob Parisi, the musical genius who made that song famous way back in 1976. But I do love the tune and the title struck me as appropriate, given the themes and a few parallels in today's story.
We start off with Chapter six from my book. It's called Another Tortured Artist, and we conclude with a lively conversation about why it is people go to such extraordinary lengths these days to change the way they look.
Chuck and I then discuss what I believe could be the finest piece of classical music ever composed and the inspired decision to use that piece of music in what may prove to be the finest piece of filmmaking ever made about the Second World War and the brave men who fought it. It's a wide ranging mix of this and that, and I call it Play That Funky Music White Boy. And it all starts right now.
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In the meantime, what do you say? What do you say we play that funky music, white boy.
Chapter six, another tortured artist. Back in the 70s, before the world knew him by a single name, a battered boy stared into an unforgiving mirror and considered his reflection. A split lip, a swollen jaw, a black eye, painful but not as painful as the words that accompanied the beating. Look in that mirror. Boy, your lips are too fat for your mouth. Your nose is too flat for your face and your skin doesn't match your brothers.
I'm trying to run a business here. The boy in the mirror sighed, his father was right, his face was not the face of a pop star. It was a flawed face, the swarthy face, a face that he could no longer live with. And his mother's makeup cabinet, the boy found a solution, a glass jar filled with white powder. He opened it, sprinkled some powder into his hands and began to rub it onto his face, wincing as he did so, his wounds were still tender, courtesy of the man who wouldn't tolerate a single mistake on stage or even in rehearsal.
But gradually, the boy in the mirror saw his complexion lighten. Would it be enough to mollify his violent and unpredictable father? Would it be enough to satisfy the people who paid to see him perform? Over time, as the boy's talent became more and more undeniable, those questions became less and less relevant. By the end of the 70s, the boy was famous. By the 80s, he was a national sensation. By the 90s, he was an international phenomenon by the turn of the century.
He was the undisputed king of pop. But for all his popularity, he never stopped obsessing over the color of his skin, even when his legacy was firmly in place, even when his personal life began to unravel, even when his unusual relationship with a 14 year old boy led to a scandal and a courtroom drama. Even in the grip of depression and addiction, the king of Pop concealed his true complexion right up to the day he died alone in his bed.
If all this sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps it's because, you know, the story of another battered boy who stood before another unforgiving mirror two centuries later in the 1970s and considered his reflection, his split lip, swollen jaw and black eye. Painful, but not as painful as the words that had accompanied the beating. Look at yourself, boy. Your lips are too fat for your mouth. Your nose is too flat for your face and your skin doesn't match your brothers.
I'm trying to run a business here. It's funny how history so often repeats itself, like his predecessor, the boy in this mirror was never comfortable with the source of his own reflection. He, too, was born with a skin tone that didn't match that of his brothers. He, too, was raised by a violent, unpredictable man who exploited his talent at every turn. And he, too, left behind a collection of popular music, unlike anything the world has ever seen.
But unlike his predecessor, this tortured artist lived in the era of plastic surgery. If you Google his name, you can see the evidence for yourself. A new nose, a new chin, new lips, new eyelids, another new nose, new cheekbones, new hair, another new nose, new eyebrows, new eyelashes, one more new nose. And through it all, a complexion that got lighter and lighter right up to the day he died alone in his bed.
It's tempting to blame the father for screwing up the son, and in this case, perhaps we should. By all accounts, Joseph Jackson did a real number on the brilliant, deeply troubled artist we know today by a single name, Michael. On the other hand, the old man did train and manage and shape the career of the most popular musician of our time, as did Johann two centuries before. Like Joseph, Yohann forced his son to perform and rehearse every single day of his young life, like Joseph, Yohann relied upon his son to pay the bills, a son with a complexion that he felt was simply too dark yet.
If you Google his name, you'll find no visual evidence of his Moorish ancestry, no portraits that reflect his natural skin tone, and no busts that reveal a single non German feature.
Thanks to a bottomless jar of white powder, Johansson was able to keep his complexion a secret, one that the Nazis were happy to reinforce 100 years after his death by insisting to the world that his unique musical genius was proof of German exceptionalism and a credit to the Arian race. Happily, the most tortured artist of all time never knew that his music would make it onto Hitler's playlist, a small blessing, perhaps, for the battered boy who was never comfortable in his own skin, the lonesome bachelor who never found his immortal beloved, the legendary composer who went deaf at the height of his powers but kept on creating even though he couldn't hear the applause his many masterpieces inspired.
Such were the burdens of the original King of Pop, the man we remember today by a single name. Beethoven. I was reminded of Beethoven the other day as I was flicking around the TV dial, it was a rainy Sunday in San Francisco and I just stumbled across Steven Spielberg's band of brothers like Caddyshack, Jaws and The Shawshank Redemption Band of Brothers is something I can't not watch. And the scene I stumbled upon on this particular rainy Sunday is my favorite moment in the entire series.
It's a scene I always rewind a few times whenever I happened upon it shot in one take with a Steadicam, which I find more than a little impressive. But the mood it evokes is what moves me. The sequence begins in the wake of an allied attack with the old shell shocked citizens of a bombed out German town walking like zombies through the rubble of their neighborhood, pulling their busted possessions out from massive piles of debris. As a small group of American GI's observe the tableau, we hear what might be the greatest piece of music ever composed the 6th Movement of Beethoven's Opus 131.
It's not just a soundtrack for the scene. It's part of the scene itself. For nearly three minutes for German men who have just lost their homes, an impromptu string quartet stand in the ruins as their countrymen pick through the rubble. They play this devastatingly beautiful movement, an amazing sequence that concludes when a guy opines, I'll say this much for the Krauts. They sure know how to clean up. All you need is a little Mozart. Another guy replies, at which point Lieutenant Louis Nixon played flawlessly by Ron Livingston, the guy from Office Space corrects the soldier with two lines delivered with a perfect blend of authority and world weary wonder.
That's not Mozart. He says that's Beethoven. Why do I love this scene so much in part, I think it's the juxtaposition of beauty and destruction placed so closely together, each magnifies the other. The combination makes me weep every time I see it. I sympathize with the German civilians, but I empathize deeply with the guy who confuses Mozart with Beethoven. As someone who's publicly mistaken on a near daily basis, I know the embarrassment of being corrected on camera.
Indeed, when it comes to being corrected, you might say I am an expert. On dirty jobs, I was corrected by hundreds of different bosses in every imaginable setting as the perpetual new guy, I was corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frac tanks, pig farms, slime lines and lumber mills. Today, I have a podcast that wades into history and biography and a Facebook page filled with legions of people determined to keep me honest.
What I can tell you is not much has changed. But I can also assure you not all characters are created equal. Take my cantankerous field producer, Dave Barsky. Like my father Baskis incapable of listening to a story of some stret fact seems to be out of joint. Both men will interrupt a joke if they think it's being told the wrong way or a lecture if they disagree with something, the professor says. In fact, a few minutes into this book, Barsky is going to hear about Mel Brooks and call me immediately guaranteed.
Hey genius. You'll say the vinyl record you mentioned couldn't have been vinyl. It was Chalak. It had to be because vinyl wasn't used for record manufacturing in 1944.
This will be the highlight of Baskis week. My dad, a former history teacher, will call immediately to ask how I knew that Custer's body was violated in the way I've described, you don't know that, he'll say experts still argue about it. Just because people claim it's the case doesn't make it so. His exclamation points will be bouncing off satellites and entering my ears like arrows. My mom is also a hopeless character of the apologetic variety, at least she pretends to be.
Oh, Michael, she'll say, I'm so sorry, but there's a double negative at the top of this section. You said, I can't not watch. Sorry, Mike, it's a great story, but I thought you'd want to know.
Personally, I don't mind being corrected even when I'm right. It's nice to know that people are paying attention, but when I am corrected, I prefer it to be in the style of Lieutenant Dickson.
He didn't scold the guy for confusing Mozart with Beethoven. He wasn't haughty, pedantic or disappointed. His words came with no apologies, no exclamation points, and no attempt to lord his knowledge over his men. In fact, if you watch the scene on YouTube, you'll see that he barely glances at the man he corrects. He simply rectifies the situation definitively while remaining focused on the final few measures of Beethoven's movement. By the way, I ran into Ron Livingston a few years ago in L.A., he and some friends were eating sushi in a place called Katsuya at a strip mall off Ventura Boulevard.
I was a few tables away with my high school friend Chuck. Now, I have never approached a celebrity in my life, especially one with a mouth full of fish. But I couldn't help myself. I walked over to Ron's table and stood there quietly, making things awkward until he returned my gaze. I don't think Ron recognized me, but he did raise his eyebrows in the universal expression that says, What the hell do you want? As his friends and my friend looked on, no doubt asking themselves the same question, I leaned in, paused for dramatic effect and said, All you need is a little Mozart.
For a moment, I thought he would leave me hanging, but he didn't, Lieutenant Dickson swallowed his fish, took a sip of his beer, and with barely a glance in my direction, said precisely what I hoped he would say. That's not Mozart. That's Beethoven. Point is, the story that comes next doesn't include a single mistake, but if you hear one, please drop by my Facebook page and tell me all about it. And while you're there, say hello to my dad.
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Tell you one thing about the Krauts, so clean up, which. He needs a little more detail, so it's not Maltzahn. That's Victor. Did it still gets me? I'm literally sitting here, I've got goosebumps listening to Ron Livingston deliver that line as that music is playing. Amazing. Yeah, it really is.
I mean, the thing that gets me is that you're hearing some of the most beautiful sounds ever created and you're looking at just utter the utter destruction of war and how it affects people.
It's such a great duality. Is it the right word now?
It's good. Look, I mean, it's so good. And I think I made this point in the story. But there there are a number of shows that, you know, if I stumble across and I'm flicking around, I simply have to stop. Right. And, you know, Band of Brothers is somewhere near the top of the list. It's but it's so dangerous, you know, because it's a nine part series.
It's an investment. Yeah. And this is this is part nine, actually. Right. It's an episode called Why We Fight and the scene you just played, by the way, we're not going to get sued, are we, for this? You think you don't?
I don't think so. I mean, I think it's fair use because we're talking about it.
These laws are just so God awful. I mean it if you're just joining us, Chuck and I have made a career of bemoaning the fact that just because it's on YouTube doesn't mean you can play it in a podcast. But there are all these fair use laws and or all these exceptions. And hopefully we're on the we're on the right side of the law with this one. But I really wanted people to hear that because if they don't know what I was writing about and if and if you haven't seen it, you know, to your point, it's not just the music, it's not just the acting.
It's not just the scene. It's not just the historical context. It's all of it. And I had heard that piece of music before. It's, of course, Beethoven's string quartet number 14 and C sharp minor, of course.
And that movement is Opus 131.
And so I had heard it, but until I saw those four guys play it and those are real musicians, by the way. You know, Spielberg just did a a brilliant thing. He put the actual soundtrack for his scene in the scene.
And so you get to watch this amazing musical performance while these poor people are trying to put their lives back together. And those are Germans, obviously.
Right. They've just the allies have just bombed the bejesus out of their town and they're picking up the pieces of what's left. And this amazing music happens and you just sit there slack jawed, watching the whole thing. And Ron Livingston puts a cherry on the sun. I just he just couldn't have done it better. And I don't know why such a simple, obvious line gets me every time, but just that's not Mozart.
It's though it's Beethoven, Beethoven.
And you and you have to remember, too, that, you know, Beethoven's dad, the only thing he wanted for his son and for him, of course, was to Mozart, Mozart. Everything Beethoven was groomed to do was to be the next Mozart or something better, and so to have Ron Livingston juxtapose those two in that moment in the finale of Band of Brothers, one of the few TV programs I can't turn away from if I happened across it.
You know, that's why that chapters in the book that that's amazing.
I didn't know that about Beethoven. Beethoven was jealous of Mozart or his father wanted him. His father was.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, Mozart was the toast of Europe back then.
And Johann Beethoven's dad knew his kid was a prodigy and believed he could he could beat the greatness into him, which basically is what he did.
He just beat the crap out of that kid day after day after day.
And yeah, some accounts say, you know, he has deafness was brought on by the beatings. It really hasn't been confirmed. He started to lose his hearing when he was. Around twenty eight or so and was completely gone by 45, 46 years old, and so he died at 56, never hearing anything he composed for the last 10 years. In fact, Chuck, he never heard this piece. He never heard the string quartet, number 14 and C sharp minor Opus 131.
And he wrote that it was quite possibly the most important work of his life. I'm looking for the quote right now, but how would he know that?
Well, it here not only could he not hear it, he it was never performed when he was alive.
He could only hear it in his head. He could only ever hear the thing in his head.
Right. He never heard it played. But listen to this. Schubert, after hearing that piece said after this, what is left for us to write?
And Schumann said that this entire quartet, he called it, quote, It possesses a grandeur which no words can possibly express. They seem to me to stand on the extreme boundary of all that has hitherto been attained by human art and imagination.
Well, clearly, he never saw Band of Brothers.
Clearly, right. Clearly, anyway. Yeah, an amazing piece of music written by, I think, the most important composer of of all time and dragged into the modern site guys by Steven Spielberg.
Well, you know what? Let's let's let's let's stick on Beethoven, since you've given us like my head is exploded with all the facts you've given us about Beethoven.
So what is it that you did with this story that's different than anything else that's ever been written about Beethoven?
Well, I mean, look, it's a it's it's a high bar. But what would I try to do with each of these, even if it's just in a really small way, is make some sort of juxtaposition or comparison or observation that that is unique. And as you know, there is nothing left that's unique or very, very, very little. But I was struck by the fact that nobody, to my knowledge anyway, had compared Michael Jackson's life to Beethoven's life.
And I didn't set out to do that.
I set out to write a story about Michael Jackson, and I started looking for new things about Michael Jackson. And in the course of reminding myself a lot of what I had forgotten about Michael Jackson, I learned about the abuse he endured as a kid. His dad, Joseph, was just not a good guy. You know, he beat all of them purportedly. But Michael took it hard. And I was also struck by the degree to which he changed his appearance over his life.
Again, this is nothing new. Any fan or just anybody with a pulse knows that the guy took plastic surgery to to a whole new level.
And then, you know, the controversy of the the skin whitening, a lot of people said he was bleaching his skin. Other people say, you know, he had that condition. What is it? It's illegal.
It's vitiligo. Vanity Elijo.
Yeah, I guess I can't pronounce it. But, you know, it purportedly caused parts of his skin to line. And then people say, well, he was just trying to even that out. Right. Basically, you know, he worked pretty hard to change his complexion.
I like to say he started out as an adorable black boy and slowly turned himself into an old white woman, which I think is kind of sad.
Is that what you like to say? I do.
I like to say that. Well, I mean, look at it. Was that general transformation that's undeniably odd. And, you know, I mean, no, no disrespect. The guy was truly the king of Pop in our lifetime, but he was also the king of chameleons, and he changed his appearance radically.
And as I was reading about all of that, I remembered an article I had seen back in 2015 in a newspaper called The Concord in the student newspaper.
You have a subscription to that, don't you?
I never miss it.
So but it was a controversial article and it quoted an earlier article written in something called The Week back in 1930 by a by a black journalist named Carl Murphy, who first began to circulate the idea that Beethoven had also taken pains to change his appearance with the constant application of powder because he was a little blacker than his. Ad wanted him to appear, and so it was back in the 30s that the question first started to make the rounds, was Beethoven really black?
And this article in the concordant took it to a whole new level. And they found all kinds of quotes here. I'll I'll read you a couple real quick. These are descriptions of Beethoven from the day. And remember, if you Google his image right now, you'll find hundreds of portraits lot, that's all. And they're all different. You can put them next one next to the other. And very few, you know, it looks like a line up, you know, in a police department like like 20 different dudes.
So we don't really know what the guy looked like, although his favorite portrait, according to Beethoven himself, was of a of a pencil sketch.
And in that sketch. Hold on, I'll find it right here.
Here it is, the photo he had printed and reprinted, distributing it to all his friends and family as a memento in this photo, Beethoven's faces broad, his hair is unruly and his skin is very, very dark.
And this is where things begin to add up. That's in the author's own estimation from the 30s.
Pardon me. There is no problem from 2015 in the control Wardian.
And they find other quotes from the day describing Beethoven, for instance, quote, wide, thick lipped mouth, short thick nose, proudly arched forehead quote, Negroid trait's, dark skin, flat thick nose, quote.
His face reveals no trace of the German. He was so dark that people dubbed him the spangle or the dark skinned.
They called him the Spaniard, quote, cold black hair, stood straight up on his head, quote, his somewhat flat, broad nose and rather wide mouth.
His small, piercing eyes and swarthy dark complexion pockmarked into the bargain, gave him a strong resemblance to a mulatto quote.
Complexion was brownish. His hair was thick, black, very Brisley quote. Short, stocky, broad shoulders, short neck, round nose, blackish brown complexion. It goes on and on clearly. I mean. Right.
And so in 2015, I read this article that basically says, yeah, Beethoven was black, but he took pains to appear lighter than he really was. And that's when I thought, well, wait a minute, who was the King of Pop in 1790? For all intents and purposes, it was Ludwig van Beethoven. And who is the king of Pop in two thousand five? Will that be Michael Jackson? So then the question becomes over a couple of hundred years, what do these two really have in common?
And I thought maybe the thing I wanted to lean into most was the idea that both tried to change their appearance, because that really rhymed with a lot of what is going on today in pop culture.
But ultimately, it was the dads that got me reading an account of what Johann did to his kid at eight years of age, the the beatings. Chuck, he'd locked him in a basement for sometimes a day at a time. If he screwed up his lessons, if he made a mistake on the piano, he beat him. BEATBOXES Years. I mean, really, really awful stuff. And you read the accounts of growing up.
Jackson It's not it's not that bad, but it's bad. It's physical. You know, they all talk about getting whipped and beaten regularly, you know, not for not minding their manners, not for being disrespectful to their elders, for screwing up the music. Right. You grew up the music and both Joseph Jackson and Johan van Beethoven would beat the hell out of you.
Now, both of those men probably would argue that they their sons wouldn't be the artists that they became if they hadn't done that.
Who knows? But even if you're right, you know, it's not a fair trade at all. No, no, no.
But ultimately, in the end, it's you. These two men, Jackson and Beethoven, had such immense talent that it's difficult to articulate. And yet they both took extraordinary steps to change their appearances and essentially try and become somebody they weren't. And they were each blessed, cursed with two dads who were just world class pricks, no matter how you slice. Right. And so there's the story and there's the juxtaposition and and that's why I wrote it.
Why is it do you think that that people go to such extremes to change their appearance? You know, I mean, I think of Rachel Dolezal and really, you want to go there? No, no, I don't. I don't. I just I just thought of her and I thought I'd say her name, but I don't want to go there.
Well, since you invoked it and look, I mean, no disrespect to anyone, but it's a it's a really big question because the answer is, who knows? On the one hand, it's nobody's business. If you want to have a facelift, if you want to get new eyelids, if you want to get new hair, well, then you're changing your appearance, which is one click away from changing your identity. You know, why are you doing that?
I don't know. Maybe maybe you just feel like it.
You know, Joan Rivers would tell you quite candidly, I still remember she said to me, I think I write about this. You do? Yeah, I know. I know what you're going to say.
Why? One more facelift? I'm going to have a goatee.
So, you know, people change their image, their appearance, their identity for any number of reasons. It could be self-esteem. Personally, I think with Rachel, what's her name, I, I think she was slipping into the what you call the the draft, you know, of was a cultural appropriation.
I think I think she changed personally because there was an upside to being perceived as black when she wanted to be seen that way.
Beethoven there was a downside to being seen as too dark, you know, for him.
Liz Warren, high cheekbones. Right. You know, did she accentuate her ethnicity by applying makeup to accentuate her cheekbones and thereby appear more Native American? I don't know. Some people say she did.
What do I really say that? I don't know.
I'm kind of out here without a net. But look, we don't even have to go back that far. What's what's your name? Hilaria Baldwin. Oh, jeez. She just got crucified. Yeah, because she likes to talk in a Spanish accent and wants people to think she was born somewhere where she she wasn't born. And, you know, she became a huge target.
And I, I felt kind of sorry for I mean, people were brutal to her. But it just goes to show, I think, that in this day and age, more so than any other authenticity is for sale.
And if you if you suddenly appear to be something other than what people think you've claimed to be, they're going to eat you alive.
Yeah. Yeah, that's true. I mean, look, it still happens to me.
People look at dirty jobs and they figure, you know, a handyman and then they hear a story about how I sang in the opera. Yeah. And they're like, wait a minute.
And then you mentioned that you don't know which end of the hammer to pick up. Right? Right.
So, you know, I, I think the story itself is is interesting because it draws some some good parallels. But I think it's worth talking about because underneath it, you know, the good ones anyway have some kind of resonance with what's going on today.
And, you know, maybe it's a bridge too far to start comparing Rachel, what's her name, and Liz Warren and Hilaria Baldwin. Totally Tovan totally bridged if I don't do it.
But, you know, now that I think about I mean, look, the difference between Joan Rivers, I mean, she talked about her plastic surgery in ways that were completely I mean, she was proud of it. Right. And that made her more authentic.
So nobody really gave her a lot of crap for it. Now, Michael Jackson didn't hide the fact that he was going under the knife, you know, several times a year. It only got a little squirrelly when it came to the controversy around his skin color. How much of that was he doing on purpose? And he denied doing anything intentional, right? Yeah.
And so it's not. We got eyes, Michael.
We got eyes. You know, how do you how do you how do you claim that nothing has happened? No, no. I just suddenly my nose got really skinny and my skin got white.
I don't know what it was that you were singing something earlier that I didn't even recognize.
Oh, yeah. Mama say, mama. Mama Poussaint.
What? I don't even know that.
Mama, mama pusa. Mama, mama, mama pusa. Can we can we do that. Is that is that fair use.
I don't even know what it's from. It's from a song. I think it's on the Thriller album. I had the Thriller album, which is why I think I know it. I mean, I remember that getting that album and thinking, wow, this is amazing. You know what, speaking of music and ethnicity, I read something else that I thought was interesting about Beethoven. Again, this is a bridge too far. I'm generalizing. Please don't, you know, got to know.
But but but it's interesting because Mozart and everybody who preceded him really, you know, the Western sort of beat, you know, the white beat is is usually one in three. Right. So you got four beats in a bar and it goes one and two and three and four and one and two and three and four.
And that's white, you know, white. White meaning European. Yeah. OK, right.
Western white like you and I as white guys, you know, it's sort of the you know, what is it, the overbite, the bad dancing. You know, you're on the B, right? It's one and two and three and four. But Beethoven and Beethoven was war one and two and three and four and one and two.
A lot of his music is on the off, beat it syncopated more.
And that, in a general way is more analogous to black music than white music.
This according to I'm not sure that the whole line I'm going to find this like you're just making this up, man.
No, his name is Suit is Suchiate, Tom Suchet or such. It's certainly true that in his music this guy writes, who is a noted Beethoven expert, that Beethoven's use of rhythm and dynamics was new to Western music. Emphasis was often put on the offbeat, for instance, on beats two and four of a bar, as opposed to the more normal one and three. So it's not just me, Charles.
One, two and three, four. And one, two, three, four. I can't even do it. I don't know. That's how white. That's how white. White goes one and two and three and four and one, and it's like a march, but the more syncopated is one and two and three and four. When you're with me, I don't know.
I'd have to hear some song side by side. I'd like to get away from this topic as quickly as possible.
Can we move on to the grass roots of this particular chapter?
And one of the things that comes up in it that is repeated a lot throughout your book and throughout your life are the characters.
You point out how Livingston's delivery is. He's like the perfect character because there's no judgment. He could have easily gone.
That's not Mozart. That's what I would have done. Right? Sure. Mozart. That's Beethoven.
You feel that, you know, and he just does it.
He just gently corrects without any judgment at all. I love the meter.
Just and I didn't even think about when I was watching that scene, because when I first saw bands of Band of Brothers, I wasn't I wasn't even on Facebook. Right. I wasn't I wasn't dealing with the dynamic of, you know, six million of your friends are also six million people standing by to gently let you know if that participle is dangling or if that infinitive was split or it's not just grammatical errors.
Any anything today, any single thing that we witness that is out of sync is something that we have somehow gotten permission to correct. And and now we have the means to do it right.
It's and look that I make a big deal of it, not because I'm particularly sensitive to it, but because it is cancel cultures, little baby boy.
It's the thing that grows into council culture, the need the need to fix, the need to have it all together, because then it begs the question, well, what do you do with all these people who are wrong about fill in the blank?
So there's Ron Livingston, his character. Lt was Nixon, right? Yes.
Nixon, well educated, went to school. He's an officer and now he's standing next to this enlisted kid who, you know, doesn't have the benefit of that education, certainly never took any, you know, music appreciation classes.
Right. But he hears beautiful music and just assumes, well, it's got to be that's got to be Mozart.
Yeah. You know, that's the classical name. I know, you know, the first time somebody and he's probably proud of knowing that he took a shot. He took a shot.
He wasn't trying to, you know, lorded over anybody. He just maybe wanted to share it with his commanding officer to let him know that he wasn't a complete moron in the Navy, that he knew some things. And yeah, Livingston corrects him gently, matter of factly, without an ounce of rancor or self-righteousness and just lets him know. And us, that's Beethoven. And there is no other soundtrack that ought to be playing in the midst of this level of heartache and destruction.
Right. Than Opus 131 from the Quartet C sharp minor.
Now, before we move on to the the other characters, I just want to let everybody know that I can confirm that Livingston's story at Katsu.
Yeah, we actually were there at Katsuya and we were getting ready to leave and his party was and you were like, I think that's the guy from office space and what is his name.
And and I don't remember if we looked it up or anything, but I think you recalled it. You remembered his name and you said, I got to say something.
And you went over there, which was really out of character. I'd never seen you do that before.
I've never had to this day. Yeah. I have never approached anyone with any level of fame. I mean, I've I've run into some people in public, and the most I would ever do is nod and just say things. Right. Right.
Well, what I love doing afterwards, when you you know, you just kind of walked by me and we went out outside, you know, because we were leaving when you when you stopped to do that. And I said, did he know who you were? And you were like, I don't think so.
But he was nice.
He was nice and dirty. Jobs had been on the air maybe a couple of years at that point, you know? And so I, I don't assume that he did. I mean, it would have been amazing had after I said, you know, all you need is a little Mozart, he just said, that's Beethoven. It would have been amazing if he'd have said, now get ready to get dirty and light.
But now he didn't do that.
And now no. He had no idea it was a question, so I'll tell you something, I'll tell you something. I bet he knows now. Yeah, he does. If you're listening, give us a ring. We'll have you. We should have you on this episode.
Not honestly. That's what this podcast would have been, right? Yeah. You know, it started last week when my mom was on like, oh, you know, this is we love you're having this great conversation with Chuck, but your mom. Yeah, right.
So, I mean, it works out. No, no. Even I said that I was like that was a really great episode with your mom.
I mean, your mom is is terrific. And I love her. And and I'm sure you do as well. And America does. She's America's mom. But America's grandmother at this point, I guess that's true.
You know, she's going to be 83 next week, January 28th.
Wow. Yeah. Well, I was going to say was after listening to her, I got a bunch of letters were, you know, posts from people just saying, you know, it would have been great if you could have had Mel Brooks instead of Joe.
And I'm like, well, yeah, I mean, you know, I guess and now I'm thinking I you know, to have Ron Livingston on the line right now would be kind of interesting and maybe we could do that.
But I'm not sure the podcast I'm not sure people really care deeply enough.
Well, you know what? We'll find out.
I'll start reaching out to some people. Let's we'll see who we can get. I have a feeling it's going to be just your mom, but I mean, we Barsky would have been a good one for this one basket.
We could have had Barsky on here. I mean, maybe we could have Barsky. He's really busy. I know he's got a lot going on.
He does. Yeah. Yeah. People always said, what's odd? What's your old producer up to? He's been working with Steve Austin over at USC.
I believe it's stone cold. Steve Austin. Stone Cold. Steve Austin. Yes. Wasn't Steve Austin also the six million dollar man, was he?
Steve Austin, I was his name, a man barely alive, we have the technology. Better's oh, Mr.. Lee Majors plays Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, I never made that connection before. There you go. That's what this podcast is about, Chuck. Surprising connections for people who might otherwise not give a damn. No, that's what for. That's what six degrees is about.
Why did I get four degrees? That's what six degrees is about. Mike, by the way, I don't know if you've looked at the most recent post, that little outtake of you is Nixon. Oh, I absolutely love it. The reviews are coming in and.
Yes, yes, we're delighted. I did get it.
I did get a few a few shout outs. People reached out to me because they'd seen it on Instagram.
So to sum up, we're hoping we don't get sued as a result of using a little Beethoven, a band of brothers at the top. I think we're I think we're in good shape. We're hoping I don't get too much pushback for making sweeping generalizations about the sounds and the rhythms most often associated with black versus white music. I meant no disrespect to Rachel. What's your name? Or Liz Warren or Hilaria Baldwin or Michael Jackson or Joan Rivers or Ludwig van Beethoven or anybody who ever did anything to alter their appearance in any way, shape or form.
And in fact, as as you and I are having this conversation, Chuck, it occurs to me that this is the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth. Was he born on this day?
It's Martin Luther King Day. I don't know if it was his. Is it his birthday?
Do me a favor. Double check that.
Yeah, it's a it's a you know, it's a holiday. I mean, it'd be important to know what we're commemorating the occasion of his birth.
I think it's more the the the totality of his life. Yeah. January 15th was his date of birth.
Good. Good. Because but today's the 18th. So in real well and real to.
No, no. Today what is today. Today is Martin Luther King's birthday today.
Correct. But his birthday was I guess Friday.
Friends, do you see what I mean by the characters? I'm just simply trying to make a simple a simple observation. How's that working?
And Chuck just can't let me get to it. What I was going to conclude this clearly improvisational romp with is.
Is a modest observation that rather than agonizing over the color of Ludwig van Beethoven and its van, by the way, not Van, a lot of people confuse the two.
I was just about to correct you with.
Absolutely. I'm sure you were.
No, it's van Beethoven. He was Flemish. The Netherlands.
Rather than just be so focused on on on the color. I mean, Jesus, what what's happening to this country, Chuck? I mean, King's whole point was the content of the character, not the color of the skin. And it seems like we're just more focused today on skin color than ever before.
But having said that, we should be focused more on composers and geniuses like George Bridge Tower. Have you ever heard of George Bridge Tower? No. Maybe the greatest black violin virtuoso in Beethoven's time, to whom the composer dedicated his Kreutzer Sonata before retracting the dedication due to a falling out between the pair. But George Bridge Tower, an amazing violinist who virtually no one today has heard of. Listen to some of his compositions. Do it right now. You can find them on YouTube.
Your heart will break a talented man no matter what shade or hue he might have been.
Final thoughts, Jack? Yes, the final thought is that we've listened to Chapter six of the book, The Way I Heard It, by Mike Rowe, we're releasing one chapter a week of the audio version.
But you can get the entire audio version if you don't want to wait wherever fine books are sold. And it's also in print and coming out in paperback soon.
Hashtag just saying, hmm, that's a technically that would be the third commercial in this in this podcast. We've talked for over 30 minutes. My feeling is a 50 minute podcast, All Things Considered, is probably a reasonable amount of time to inflict three crass commercial messages on an otherwise unsuspecting crowd.
So if you've got a problem with that, too, you can direct your unhappiness to me over on my Facebook page.
And please tell us whatever we got wrong. Please do. God knows I enjoy it. Thanks, everybody, for listening. We'll be back next week with more of whatever this is.