David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 359: Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show (The Cover Of Rolling Stone)

June 14, 2024

Given that the career of Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner has been one to lead The New York Times to write the headline, "The Licentious Life And Times Of Jann Wenner," a summation not unfair given some of his statements about black musicians, or that led female musicians like Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) to believe he promoted a "boy's rock and roll club," and that his influence factored in to inclusions and exclusions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I can't believe that he didn't have a fit when Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show literally asserted themselves onto the cover of his magazine. For those too young to remember, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show had a Top 10 hit with "Cover Of Rolling Stone."

Can you imagine the conversation circa March 1973?

Rolling Stone Editor: Hey, Jann, I think it's time we put Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show on the cover.

Wenner: Over my dead body.

RSE: C'mon, everyone's clamoring for it. Good Lord, we just put Bette Midler on the cover.

Wenner: Yeah, but there was a story there. A hell of a story. What hook is there for a story about freaking Dr. Hook?

RSE: Hey, the song got in the top 10. They found a hook.

Wenner: Even that name! Out on the street, I hear people go "'Right Place, Wrong Time,' I love that song by Dr. Hook," and I have to scream Dr. Freaking John. A real artist. Not some caricature of a band!

RSE: Caricature? I like that, we already do enough drawings of artists. For once, we will be using it more directly for satire.

Wenner: Damn it, you keep missing the point: I still see no story.

RSE: So, who needs a story.

Wenner: Really? You just said that to me? We are the political and social voice for a generation.

RSE: A few issues ago our cover story was about James Taylor and Carly Simon's honeymoon. Why don't we just become some tawdry rag?

Wenner: Keep this up and you will be out of a job.

RSE: O.k., let's just stay focused on Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show. With "Sylvia's Mother," that's two Top 10 Hits off two consecutive albums. That's two more hits than your beloved Dylan has had the last year.

Wenner: "Sylvia's Mother?" Give me a break. And this song is off of something called Sloppy Seconds. These guys are gimmicks. The way the operator keeps interrupting "Sylvia's Mother?" Pure stupid gimmick. Don't insult Dylan by making that comparison.

RSE: The songs are written by Shel Silverstein. Maybe that is the "behind-the-cover" cover story. Dude's writing children's books, creating top 5 hits, doing cartoons for Hefner at Playboy. That's a pretty interesting hook. We put the band on the cover but write entirely about the guy not on the cover.

Wenner: Silverstein! See, that's part of the problem. "A Boy Named Sue" only worked because Johnny Cash sang it. Not some idiot with an eye patch. Or, even worse, a guy with an eye patch, a guy who sounds like Wolfman Jack, and a guy who sounds like he just came out of a coal mine.

RSE: O.k., then let's appeal to our ego. What other magazine gets name-dropped as the epitome of success? No one is singing every two hours on the radio, "wanna buy 5 copies of Life for my mother."

Wenner: Hah, freaking Life. It should be called Life Support these days. You notice they haven't published anything regularly this year.

RSE: So, there you go, and if you do the Silverstein story, you are actually sticking it to Hefner, excuse the pun, by not even giving him/Playboy direct credit.

Wenner: O.k., I am warming up to this idea. How about we do no story? And don't even name them?

RSE: You mean, something like "You Know Who Makes The Cover."

Wenner: Be even more mean-spirited than that. I thought I had trained you well. "What's Their Names Makes The Cover."

RSE: Nice!

Wenner: Get the caricaturist in here.

Caricaturist: You wanted me, sir.

Wenner: Yeah, we got a cover for you to do.

Caricaturist: I'm delighted, sir, but I gotta ask. When you are going to start using that new photographer you just hired?

Wenner: Photographer?

RSE: He means, Leibovitz, Jann. That woman's got talent.

Wenner: Oh, yeah, what's-her-name.

RSE (to caricaturist): And on that note, here's your assignment.

Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show. "The Cover Of Rolling Stone." Sloppy Seconds. Columbia, 1972. Link here.

Day 358: Francis Dunnery "I Believe I Can Change My World"

Day 360: Sniff 'n' The Tears "Driver's Seat"

See complete list here.