A little over a month ago I shared a Music Monday album with which, due to circumstances, I feel more of a connection than most. lo-fi is sci-fi’s first album The Black Hole is one of four albums they did, and which I personally saved from digital oblivion thanks in part to the band’s use of the Creative Commons Attribution license.
I’ve been listening to select songs off of it quite a bit, both before and after I shared it with you as part of Lyrical April.
The first song, “You’ve Got The Body + I’ve Got The Brains”, is one I put in heavy rotation, might even put it in my Free Culture podcast if I manage to get that going again. And it has a piece of audio, a dialogue exchange, under the bridge, that has been nagging at me.
Yesterday, I decided to put down lyrics to a few of the songs from the album as best as I can understand them, and when I got to the bridge on this song (go and listen to it here ), a few words of the dialogue were unclear to me, so I went hunting.
The actress playing the woman making the call sounded, to me, like either Jean Arthur or Barbara Stanwyck, but that didn’t help me, so I searched the phone number she gives the operator to try calling: Murray Hill Four Oh Oh Nine Eight (MU4-0098).
And I was almost right. Sort of. In a way.
The first hit I got was for the film noir Sorry, Wrong Number, which starred Barbara Stanwyck.
Except that when I watched the clip on Youtube, the numerals are different and both Stanwyck’s and the operator’s deliveries were off. The dialogue is close, and it’s a Murray Hill number, but it wasn’t right.
So, I went to IMDb and looked to see if the film had been remade or redone for TV, or adapted for Lux Radio Theater.
Which it had. But that turned out to be irrelevant.
Because, as it turns out, the film had been based on an original radio play of the same name, first aired on the national program Suspense (one of the most famous Old Time Radio shows). And it had starred Agnes Moorehead, which immediately gave me a forehead-slapping moment, because yes, she, too, could have delivered the lines with that same odd affectation that made me think Stanwyck or Arthur.
So I went to the Single Episodes page for Suspense on the Internet Archive (virtually all Old Time Radio is in the public domain, due to the way copyright law worked at the time), and listened to the first broadcast, from May 25th, 1943.
And that was wrong, too.
Wrong phone number, the operator was way wrong in her delivery.
So I scrolled. Oh. Turns out the play had been popular and was re-performed that August, also with Moorehead.
Look some more. Ah, okay, maybe it was the February 1944 re-performance. Or maybe I would have to go looking for the Lux Radio Theater adaptation of the film back to radio.
But that was it. February, 1944, note- and word-perfect.
And you know the weird thing? I freaking enjoyed doing this search.
At some point, I’ll upload a text file with all the lyrics to the album’s page, since that would aid in other writers using them in their writing. But today, I am simply satisfied to have solved this tiny mystery.
I am such a nerd.