Dick Without A Hole (Red Detachment Of Women Mix) (2'11", 2.85 MB, mp3).
It is recommended that this track is played on a continuous loop.

The Cure For Headaches (Microsoft Songsmith Default Mix) (3'25", 5.22 MB, mp3).

Dick Without A Hole

"Hello, Yes, Hello" - Brion Gysin

"Did Dick?" - Graham Kennedy

"Dick Did!" - Ugly Dave Gray

"Why are people ringing telling me jokes?" - Bob Byrne

Bob the late-night talkback radio host is taking your calls on the open line about the issues of the day that matter to you, and our next caller is Gene. Gene wants to ask Bob a riddle. Bob doesn't get it. Moving right along: Peter is next on the line. Peter also wants to ask Bob a riddle. Bob doesn't know the answer, but Peter won't tell him! Perplexed, Bob takes Phyllis' call and asks her Peter's riddle, but Phyllis just wants to hear Gene's riddle again...

Dick Without A Hole was inspired by my love for the genteel stupidity of talk radio in Adelaide in the 1980s. The hosts craved the urgency and confrontation of shock jocks in other parts of the world but everyone in Adelaide, announcers and callers alike, were just too nice to carry it off. I still have a few cassettes of some of the better sessions, particularly the 9pm to midnight shift when the demographic got drunk and doddery.

This playful little dance of fumbled verbal exchanges and missed punchlines comes from one of those surviving tapes. Set to a cheerful, semi-funky shuffle, our four protagonists juggle the two dud gags back and forth, never grasping them yet never quite letting them drop. I find that their shared confusion in joke-telling gives a satisfying sense of mystery to this simple yet intractable form of social interaction. Their ritual is consecrated by the hallowed incantation of Messrs Kennedy and Gray, the two Magi of mid-seventies Australian comedy.

Dick Without A Hole made its public debut at John Beagles' and Graham Ramsay's Museum Magogo in Glasgow, 1999. After that it toured to PB Gallery in Melbourne, and was revived in 2002 for the Piped Music series at The Physics Room in Christchurch - more specifically, in the toilets of The Physics Room.

Now with the mp3 player of your choice, you too can enjoy Dick Without A Hole in the comfort of your own toilet. For best results, leave it playing on a continuous loop.

The Cure For Headaches

Like Dick Without A Hole, The Cure For Headaches was made at about the same time, and adopts the same types of source material: 1980s Adelaide talk radio and beloved TV stars.

In this piece, an intruder has disrupted the cosy little world of Adelaide chit-chat. The traditional Sunday night religious program was always a slightly tense affair, with a scarcity of earnest callers and, thanks to a reliance on importing extra content from wherever they could find it, the chance for lunacy to spring up either side of the microphone.

Much of the imported material came from the USA (of course), in the forms of both pre-recorded material and real-life talking from evangelists who had been flown in, usually by the Paradise Assembly of God (Paradise being the name of the suburb in north-east Adelaide). The regular host, a soft-spoken pastor in one of the more wishy-washy Protestant sects which thrived in that city, never seemed fully at ease with the fire-and-brimstone Yanks who confronted him from across the studio console.

The Cure For Headaches originally set an edited speech by one of these Americans to a slightly bemused host, against a backdrop sampled from a record sung by sometime Adelaide media titan Ernie Sigley. The juxtaposition of the two had always seemed a little arbitrary, so recently I began to think of possible ways to re-set the speech, without success... until Microsoft released Songsmith.

Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.

The full glory of Songsmith can be appreciated in this promotional video, made by Microsoft.

It was quickly discovered that Sonsgmith has the power to add new, improved accompaniments to pre-existing songs too. This seemed like the ideal software to try out on my evangelical friend. Unfortunately, Songsmith doesn't have a randomise function, but it does load up a different default genre every time the program starts, so deciding on the new music for the piece was a breeze. I think it's worked, don't you?

Ben.Harper, 2008-09.

Dick Without A Hole and The Cure For Headaches © Ben.Harper 1999-2002 and 1998/2009. Recorded in Your Dad's Den, Carlton, and Lewisham.