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If it's kinda, sorta music-related, we'll review it. This Week: The Dick Cavett Show -- Rock Icons DVD.

Wednesday, Aug 31 2005
Envision a late-night network television show hosted by Al Franken or Janeane Garofalo, with guests covering the spectrum of music, cinema, politics, and literature, from india.arie to Michael Chabon. Think that'd fly now? What about a show hosted by someone openly critical of the commander in chief's pet war, in which a diverse cast of characters could chat intelligently about nearly any subject?

It could -- and did -- happen here, and the media archivists of Shout! Factory compiled it on a nifty three-DVD set, The Dick Cavett Show -- Rock Icons. Icons presents several complete programs broadcast between 1969 and 1974 on ABC, opposite Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. While American youth reared (in all possible ways) by MTV might well shrug, "BFD," consider the context of the times: Vietnam still raged, which hippies protested with vigor; you didn't get high with your parents or listen to their records; it was not uncommon in many parts of the country for fellows with Dinosaur Jr.-length hair to regularly get the shit beat out of them. To then-President Nixon and his supporters, rock as a whole was the enemy, one-third of that unholy trinity with sex and drugs.

Cavett, though maintaining associations to mainstream Hollywood, was a bit younger and more intellectual than Carson and his ilk and a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War -- thus, counterculture types wanted to do his show. So long before punks snarled their nihilism, the Jefferson Airplane sang, "We are voices of chaos and anarchy/ Everything they say we are, we are/ And we are very proud of ourselves/ Up against the wall, motherfuckers," on Cavett's dime. (I'm happy to report the network censor didn't catch that, which is but one of this release's many simple pleasures.) Janis Joplin performed and shared conversation with Raquel Welch, Paul Simon with A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess. Joni Mitchell sang "The Fiddle and the Drum" a cappella, Sly Stone was stoned, and George Harrison and David Bowie each had an entire show to himself. Kids, buy it for your parents but watch it with them -- the family that rocks together, shocks together, and can more effectively threaten the moral fabric of society, too.

About The Author

Mark Keresman


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