Episode 188: The Tell-Tale Heart
(A journey into the Punk-In Patch, featuring Iggy Pop reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”! Re-aired in 2015, too.)
The Grumpy Punk hates most holidays, and on the whole has trouble wanting to wish anyone a happy anything, no matter what the circumstances might be. However, our annual Halloween Spook-tacular is something not even The Grumpy Punk can resist, and at least once during the season he likes to take a stroll out into the Punk-In Patch, to bring you a creepy selection of candy-chomping rockers about monsters, the living undead, and the occasional creepy story. It is this in mind that we have turned to our good friend Iggy Pop, the grandfather of punk rock himself, to bring you his rendition of the immortal Edgar Allen Poe short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, a story so closely associated with the season that it regularly shows up on Halloween Records in a number of forms.
In selecting the songs for this particular romp through the Punk-In Patch, I am aided by our good friend Miss Rikki Lee of Closet Radio. While we were unable to secure her to assist us with the recording of this episode, she contributed a number of selections that wound up in the presentation featured today. Not only a fellow traveler of all things Halloween and Punk Rock, her program has been featuring some fantastic Halloween Programming this month, and for the few of you who are not already obsessively listening to everything she broadcasts, you may want to work your way over to her show and check it out. She has made a number of appearances on our fine program, and she is currently celebrating her one year radio anniversary. Show her some love.
In a number of ways, Edgar Allen Poe embodies so much that is Halloween. While his stories and poems contained a wide range of subject matter and characters – including one of the first detective characters in published fiction – there is a creepiness and eeriness that set the done for horror fiction, and only Nathaniel Hawthorne was able to match this tone in the years previous. Poe’s own life was full of tragedy and sorrow, and for someone who had trouble integrating himself into the world he lived in, he had no trouble creating moods and literary landscapes where someone like himself would feel right at home. Reading his stories now has a very unusual effect on readers, as his command of language and the structure of his most famous stories feel like they are a part of the very fabric of scary, campfire narratives.
It is not surprising that Iggy Pop should read this particular selection. Iggy himself loves to mine the world of the horrific for his own narrative purposes, and all of his music has a dark and wonderfully creepy undertone that fills me with both joy and discomfort at the same time. Like Poe, who was developing a tone and style that would become Horror Fiction, Iggy developed what would become Punk Rock, building on a foundation that few before him had already begun, but a number of others afterward would pick up and use ever onward. The merger of these two artists is one that continues to impress me, and when you read the text along with Iggy’s performance, you realize how dedicated he was to this story. His pauses, the lines he emphasizes, and the rise and fall of his delivery flow along with the original text in a way that is completely faithful, and as today’s show unfolds, you’ll find him building to a fantastic crescendo that only someone as masterful as Mr. Pop can deliver. It also illustrates the incredible through-line that exists between this era in literature, and Punk Rock itself.
For those of you unfamiliar with the recording in today’s presentation, it comes from a fantastic double-CD entitled Closed On Account Of Rabies, a collection that I have drawn upon before for this very holiday. It was produced and released by Hal Willner, and if you don’t recognize that name, I am not surprised. His work has been primarily in the realm of tributes and film collaborations, releasing only one album of his own work. His efforts are incredibly diverse, producing tributes to the music of Federico Fellini films, Charles Mingus, Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley, Randy Newman, Shel Silverstein, Allen Ginsberg, Carl Stalling, and William S. Burroughs, among others. This particular album of Poe stories and poems contains some incredible (and wonderfully strange) performances by the likes of Diamanda Galás, Dr. John, Christopher Walken, Gabriel Byrne and Deborah Harry. Wilner’s production and musical accompaniment is nuanced, and even sounds like a Halloween Record at times. But the effect when combined with Iggy’s throaty, harsh tones not only sound as if it might be Poe’s voice himself, but has a musicality to it that only reveals itself near the end of the tale.
But don’t take my word for it. Sit down and enjoy yet another journey into The Punk-In Patch, as we bring you another Halloween Spook-tacular here on Blasphuphmus Radio.com!
The Tell-Tale Heart!
Part I: “True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous”
01.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part I) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
02.) Halloween * Siouxsie & The Banshees * Juju
03.) Haunted House Of Rock ’95 * Satan’s Pilgrims * Soul Pilgrim
04.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part II) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
05.) Splatterhouse * The Koffin Kats * Straying From The Pack
06.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part III) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
07.) Monsters * Scratch Acid * The Greatest Gift
08.) Dead Souls * Nomeansno * The Day Everything Became Nothing
09.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part IV) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
10.) In Love With The Dead * Behead The Prophet No Lord Shall Live * Soul System Blackout 7″
11.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part V) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
12.) Raise Up The Dead * Dead Moon * Destination X
Part II: “The old man sprang up in bed, crying out – ‘Who’s there?’ “
13.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part VI) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
14.) King Of The Monsters * Man… Or Astro-Man? * Experiment Zero
15.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part VII) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
16.) The Living Dead * The-Front * “Bad Boy” b/w “The Living Dead”
17.) Back From The Dead * Black Eyes And Neckties * Stiletto
18.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part VIII) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
19.) Blood Visions * Jay Reatard * Blood Visions
20.) Dracula * Sawyer Family * Scary As Hell
21.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part IX) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
22.) Fearless Vampire Killers * Bad Brains * Bad Brains
23.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part X) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
24.) Dead Or Alive * G.G. Allin & The Motor City Bad Boys * Always Was, Is And Always Shall Be
Part III: “If, still, you think me mad, you will think so no longer”
25.) Mummy’s Little Monster * Frankie Stein And His Ghouls * Monster Sounds And Dance Music * Power Records
26.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part XI) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
27.) Monsters * Mad Marge And The Stonecutters * Mad Marge And The Stonecutters
28.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part XII) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
29.) I’m A Mummy! * The Fall * Levitate
30.) I Was A Teenage Werewolf * The Cramps * Songs The Lord Taught Us
31.) The Tell-Tale Heart (Part XIII) * Iggy Pop * Closed On Account Of Rabies
32.) Heartaches * Ted Weems And His Orchestra * The Purple Knif Show
33.) Tell Tale Heart * The Gravetones * On The Edge Of Madness
34.) Undermutter’s Monster Update * The Firesign Theater * All Things Firesign