June 22, 2009

We Miss You, George

A year ago today, the world said goodbye to George Carlin, a man considered by many, including myself, to be among the funniest people who ever lived. George Carlin was not just a comedian, he was also a wordsmith, philosopher, and observer (mostly a critic) of the human condition. After a career spanning nearly 50 years, he sadly died of heart failure on June 22, 2008, four days after it was announced that he was to be awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He was 71 years old.

To mark the one-year anniversary of his passing, this post features four of George Carlin's classic, "LP era" comedy albums - Class Clown (1972), Occupation: Foole (1973), On the Road (1977), and A Place For My Stuff (1981). These are from back in the day when if you wanted to listen to him, you had to actually get the album - or in my case, growing up in the 80s, the cassette tape - and not just look him up on YouTube.

Since these albums are now available in a modern-day format, I certainly don't wish to offend the Carlin family by offering these albums on my blog (for free), and if I do, I deeply apologize. I simply want more people to experience the magic of this man, a true comedy master.

Also, a warning is in order: You probably know this already, but if you don't, please keep in mind that George Carlin was not afraid to use "bad" words (indeed, "bad words" are the very basis of his classic "Seven Words You can Never Say On Television" routine, found on the "Class Clown" album), so keep this away from the kiddies and anyone with cuss-sensitive ears.


Class Clown (1973) was George Carlin's third comedy album. It was with this album, particularly his famous "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" routine, that he started a shift from mainly clean, satirical material into more profanity-laced stuff dealing with topics such as religion, the Vietnam War, and various bodily functions.


Occupation: Foole (1974) was the follow-up to 1973's Class Clown. The final track, "Filthy Words", is basically an "update" to his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" routine (after being reminded about several other words you can't say on TV). This is a good example of Carlin's propensity for developing and reworking routines over months or years. On the first part of the album, there is quite a bit of material about Carlin's upbringing in New York City.


On The Road (1977) was George Carlin's seventh album, released a year before he suffered a heart attack and took some time off, not releasing another album until four years later.


This album has been made possible through grants from the following organizations:

- The Institute For Yahtzee Theory
- The Society For The Preservation of Spanish Rice
- The Bank for People on Horseback
- The International House of Cream and Sugar
- The National Society of Total Peckerheads

Just a taste of the more bizarre and less politically-charged comedy you'll find on A Place For My Stuff (1981), Carlin's eighth comedy album. It is unique in that it consists of not just stand-up material - including one of his best-known routines, the titular "A Place For My Stuff" - but also some studio-recorded "announcements" that parody typical TV and radio commercials.


We miss you you, Mr. Carlin ... but you're still making us laugh.

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