Hey pallies, one of the great lovers of our Dino, Finn Tellefsen, who has had Dinoliterature printed in the Dean Martin Fan Center Dinomag, has given me permission to post his response to Weinman's Dinodissin'. I would like to thank Finn for his thoughtful and very insightful words concernin' our King of Cool. I wish I had Finn's gift for sharin' the Dinomessage. If you click on the title of this post you will find Finn's myspace music page. And now Finn's wonderful Dinoresponse:
Re: JAIME J. WEINMAN’s Why we love the slacker Rat Packer
Hey there pallie, just thought I’d throw out a quick response to this article…
I am glad to see that after all these years, and countless interviews with Dean and Greg Garrison revealing the true nature of Dean’s drunk act (Yes, it WAS an act…) the quality of Dean’s artistry still holds up to this day, and has managed to fool Mr Weinman as well. Like Dean himself once said, when interviewed by the BBC; “Do you think they would give tens of millions of dollars worth of movie and TV contracts to a drunk?”
Weinman is right that “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” pretty much tanked after its initial release in 1960, but that had more to do with society as a whole, than it had to do with song. It is living proof that Dean was way ahead of his time when he recorded it. (Just as he was when agreed to make the movie “Kiss Me, Stupid”, but that’s another story…)
The irony here, when Weinman describes Jerry Lewis a workaholic, in order to degrade Dean’s carefully crafted casual and relaxed public persona, is not lost on those of us who have a genuine interest in Dean Martin. He even uses a quote from The Simpsons to emphasize his point, but conveniently “forgets” Dean’s reply from the same episode: “Squandered my gift? I made 68 albums!”
Dean Martin wasn’t just a singer like his pal Sinatra, he was also a comedian, and that is how he first came in to prominence. Had he retired after the break-up of the Martin & Lewis team, he would easily have gone down in history as one of the most successful comics of all time. But because he was such a talented singer, that part is often overlooked.
His stage act was purposely crafted more like a comedy routine than a concert, because he loved to make people laugh, and that was the artistic choice he made. Which is not to say that he never sang a song “straight”, he did. But in order to discover that (and other truths) one has to be willing to consider the facts, not just re-hash hype.
Weinman pulls out the big $5 word “Reticence”… sounds really impressive, but has he ever done a song by song comparable study of Dean vs. Frank? I would suggest starting with any song from Sinatra’s masterpiece LP “Only The Lonely” and compare it to Dean’s rendition of “Be An Angel”, and then try to tell me that they were not equals?
And Dean could go toe-to-toe with Frank on any big band number when he chose to, for proof, start by comparing their versions of: Just In Time, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me, and Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.
If Dean didn’t care about his audiences, how was he able to sustain a career as a performer for over 50 years? And why did he go on, year after year, decades after he had earned more money than he could spend in his lifetime?
The bulk of Dean’s stigma of being lazy stems from the days of his weekly TV show, when it was made known that he did not attend rehearsals. Hello? This was part of the marketing campaign to make people tune in every week to see how Dean would deal with the funny bits put in front of him!!
The truth of the matter (as stated by Dean in several interviews) was that he probably rehearsed more than any of the cast, because Lee Hale made tapes of the week’s musical numbers in advance, which Dean then rehearsed at home, in the car and on the golf course! That’s how he was able to move so flawlessly through those intricate medleys and solos.
As far as the skits were concerned, he knew – from decades of experience – that rehearsing that kind of a material would take away the spontaneity and joy of delivering it to the audience for the first time. Instead he relied on his talent, gut instinct and flawless comedic timing when the cue cards were put in front of him, just like any other TV comedian from Johnny Carson to Dave Letterman. The enormity of his success of the show proved him right…
While performing in nightclubs and concert halls from the early 1940’s to 1992, Dean Martin somehow also managed to host the Colgate Comedy hour 28 times, make 116 Martin & Lewis radio shows, whilst making 37 guest appearances on other radio shows, make 51 movies(!!), record over 40 original albums, tape 250 episodes of his TV show plus 29 roasts, appear in 25 specials, and literally countless guest appearances on other shows.
JUST WHO IS HE CALLING LAZY?