Ok, so I'm cheating a little. I vividly remember listening to this episode not long before starting in on this here project, so I'm going to just give my thoughts on it then move on to number 32. The reason I so vividly remember it, by the way, is because it is such a great episode.
Obviously I am biased and would enjoy the music stories the most, but it has some of my favorite components all on one episode: a good monologue, the real life of a famous singer impersonator, zines, super fans and a closer of an old man who plays accordion and spread the word of the non-mainstream instrument all of his life. I'll elaborate on each seeing as I dig this episode so much.
Act 1 is a monologue by Dael Oralndersmith, an older african american lady, who in this instance, is speaking from the point of view of a middle age italian guy. Give it a listen and just try to not forget who exactly is speaking- you'll be convinced it's some italian guy you'd run into in the Bronx.
Act 2 is a story about radio producer Dan Gediman's brother, who just happens to be a professional Tom Jones impersonator. It's cool to get a glimpse at what brought him to being the type of singer that he is, along with what all goes into his act.
Act 3 is a zine reading (!!! I actually write a zine myself and am very partial to reading them, so seeing how they are included a lot in episodes of TAL make me thrilled..oh just wait til we start getting to hear from Dishwasher Pete! Then the exclamation marks will be flying...) about how there's just too many bands in the world and that is followed by Sarah Vowell (one of my faves, if we're admitting biases) interviewing the superfan of Seattle band, the Fastbacks. Makes me think of the local scene in Murfreesboro from my college days (oh those days..so long ago...this past May) and all the great bands that passed through the town, most of them being finished with their run before too long but a few hanging on til the current time. What can I say- I can just get down with the music folks.
(In fact, this part of the show is just so good I think I am going to re-listen to act 3, now that I'm thinking about it some more as I'm writing.....)
Act 4 is a closing story about an accordion player who taught and played around Chicago for his entire life. It's just charming. Can't help but love when folks are really happy with what they do in life. And I especially can appreciate that when it comes to music, so this is a definite go.
TAL, you did it this time. Welcome to the top of my list.