Sunday’s ad is for Rheingold Beer, from 1952. “‘Most of the Things I Like Best Begin with ‘B’ — beagles, bands, beer,’ says TV star Harry James. ‘Here’s my favorite beagle — Bugle. My favorite band instrument? You guessed it — the trumpet. As for beer …'” It seems odd they describe James as a “TV star,” when I always think of him as a trumpet player and a bandleader. Harry James’ birthday is today, born in Albany, Georgia in 1916. When I was younger, and a musician, I was a freak for big band music, and Harry James was one of the best of his time.
Sunday’s ad is for Rheingold Beer, from 1960. “After The Show, Wherever I Go, I Meet This Old Friend Of Mine — Rheingold Extra Dry, says the great authority on scat, Cab Calloway.” I’m not sure who the other guy looking in the mirror is, although he is sharing a beer with Cab Calloway, so he’s probably a friend or colleague. I guess the show went well?
Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:
Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.
There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.
And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
Ah, the numerical beers. First there was Goose Island’s 312. After being acquired by ABI, they proceeded to file trademark applications for many other metropolitan area codes, leaving many to speculate that they’d start doing locally themed area code beers. When the overlooked the San Luis Obispo / Paso Robles area code, Firestone Walker snapped up, almost as a joke, and started producing 805. It may have started out as a humorous idea, but it’s become one of their best-selling beers in their home market. Golden Road, who’s down the road in Los Angeles, named one of their beers 329, not for an area code, but for the average number of days that L.A. gets sunshine each year.
So they threw down about the area code beers in a musical parody entitled (Beers with) Area Codes, a spoof of Ludacris’ Area Codes (feat. Nate Dogg). The video features co-founder Meg Gill, and some of her brewery team, as they call out Matt Brynildson by name, and humorously dis his 805. Golden Road’s brewer Jesse Houck (who used to brew at Drake’s and 21st Amendment) can also seen briefly in a cameo. At the end, they give a shout out to other area codes, which at first sound made up, but they do mention my 707, so maybe not. All in all, a pretty funny music video.
Today is Sam Calagione’s 45th birthday. Sam is the owner and marketing genius behind Delaware’s successful Dogfish Head Brewing. Sam’s also a great guy, and a (former?) rap singer of sorts, with his duo (along with his former head brewer) the Pain Relievaz. See the bottom of this post for a couple videos of him singing after hours at Pike Brewery during the Craft Brewers Conference when it was held in Seattle. Join me in wishing Sam a very happy birthday.
This first video is “I Got Busy with an A-B Salesgirl,” the Pain Relievaz’ first hit single.
The second video is “West Coast Poseurs,” a smackdown to the hoppy West Coast beer and brewers.
Today’s beer film is a 2009 music video by the band People Under the Stairs, a hip hop duo from L.A. As an old white suburban dude, it’s not a style of music in heavy rotation on my iPod, but give it a listen and watch the video. Part of it was shot at the Odell brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. The song is pretty catchy, and while it starts out with the typical stuff about getting drunk and malt liquor, keep listening. They drop quite a few references to better beer. While they do name drop such hipster brands as OE and PBR, I heard several mentions of craft beer and Belgian imports. See if you can pick them out? I counted nine. Did I miss any?
I’m off to see the new Muppets movie which opens today. I’ve been a huge fan of the Muppets since I was a kid, so today’s beer video is an odd one, from the original Muppet Show, which was a pun-filled variety extravaganza that ran for five seasons between 1976-1981. Each show featured a celebrity guest star, and this one come from Season 3, Episode 20, which aired in February of 1979. The guest star was none other than Sylvester Stallone, just a few months before the release of Rocky II. In one of the segments he sings (yes, sings, and his musical abilities are every bit the equal of his thespian prowess!) a rendition of “A Bird in a Gilded Cage,” while holding a mug of beer. Accompanied by Rowlf on piano, with Fozzie, Gonzo and some additional Muppets singing along, at least a couple of them also have mugs of beer. Sadly, no one takes a drink during the sad song, but I’m amazed they were even allowed to show beer at all on television in the late 1970s.
Today’s beer video is the trailer for Beer: The Musical, which is apparently a 30-minute animated musical that was created by Marshall Slayton in 2008. Here’s the description from YouTube. “Two friends locked in an epic struggle to fight the evil powers that seek to over tax their sole source of solace…beer. Oh yeah… there are songs too…” ANother sourcs says it’s “about two friends who are fighting against a corporate slum-bag’s attempt to overtax alcohol and bring their favorite pastime (drinking) to an end.” Ever heard of it? Me neither.
Today’s beer video is an animated commercial for Rheingold Beer using stop motion, from around 1956. As an animation buff, an ex-marching band geek (and with a train for my son Porter), this commercial has everything I love.