How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All? (thing)
The second Firesign Theatre album, recorded in 1969, after several breakups of the group, less than wonderful sales of their first album and being fired from their regular radio show. It is this album that most people think of when they think of the Firesign Theatre, and with this album that the group really made a name for themselves.
The album itself is incredibly funny and very quotable, and features the title bit "How can you be..." on side 1 and "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" on side 2. The record jacket or CD liner (depending on your level of technology) has the slogan 'All Hail Marx and Lennon' on it, with pictures of Groucho Marx and John Lennon. Call it silly, but definitely call it foreshadowing.
"The pyramid is opening!"
Side 1 was a performance piece that the boys of Firesign had used the previous summer. It begins with an ad for Ralph Spoilsport Motors, and continues with Babe checking out and purchasing a new car. His spin on the Antelope Freeway with street signs reeking of the bizarre ("Shadow Valley Condoms: If you lived here you’d be home by now" and "Clean up Armenia, get a hair lip"), and use of the climate control ("What a groove, a tropical paradise") lead the listener into a world of crazy safari antics, history lessons, drug references, patriotism and war. Oh, and did I mention a dramatic reading of James Joyce's Ulysses to pull it all together?
The title side also includes musical numbers, with lyrics both relevant and not to the action taking place in the loose plot. One of the more controversial songs is What makes America great?. Most of the songs reflect the patriotism or the play on patriotism, which can be found throughout the album.
This land is made of mountains,
Upon first hearing "How can you be...", many listeners can’t tell what’s funny about it. Some don’t understand the drug references which are peppered throughout the album, some can’t catch the split second punch lines dropped in here and there. Much of the humor in the album is word play. But the spoken word has a rhythmic, musical quality to it, which creates repeat listeners. And that is what the album was meant for. Each time a person listens, they pick up a little more of just what is so funny about it. This idea is supported by talking to any hardcore fans, who will spew forth quotes at you with no mercy.
"...and at the last possible moment, he stopped on
After listening to side 1, side 2’s (somewhat) more mainstream "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" (which was originally meant as the pilot for a thirteen week series) can be a relief to the uninitiated. A parody of the cliché-filled radio detective shows of the past, Nick Danger is the same old story of deception, lust, crime, time travel, dwarf maples and a pickle, but told with hilarity, word play and thirty secret Beatles references. In this bit, we follow our detective hero as he revisits lost love, comes to terms with his past and saves the day. Featured are a commercial for Loostners Castor-Oil Flakes (the all-weather breakfast) and a mock announcement of unconditional surrender to the Japanese by the president.
If you’ve never heard this album, buy it and then listen to it over and over again. Then find some unsuspecting passerby’s and sing:
We're bringing the war back home
All the information in this that was factual was borrowed from www.firezine.net, but all opinions belong to me. Lyrics were taken from http://www.faqs.org/faqs/firesign-theatre/lyrics/part1/