Been There, Done That: RIP Martin Mull

Story by Jon Stalnaker AKA The Studebaker Dude

We lost another entertainer that played a significant role in the formative years of my mid-twenties. When I first heard of him, he was an offbeat funnyman, a musician, and singer songwriter. I don’t remember how I first learned of him; my earliest recollection was seeing him in concert at Delta College around 1976-ish. I was majoring in music and was studying everything from Arias to Zappa. I was performing in Early Music Ensembles and the Stockton Chorale, learning music history, and listening to everything from Apple Records to Led Zeppelin. I especially liked the Avant Gard performers and enjoyed artists like Loudon Wainwright III and Leon Redbone. Martin Mull was another one that wrote about silly stuff. I had an eclectic vinyl record collection that has since been mostly lost in the devastation of divorce. But I do have a few that are still in my possession and those three are included.

Martin Mull was a very talented musician, and it took more than just funny lyrics to capture my attention. I listened to his album “I’m Everyone I’ve Ever Loved” over and over. My favorite song from that record was called “They Never Met”. I thought the concept was brilliant. It was about two people that you would expect to get together and live happily ever after, but he threw an unexpected twist into the story. Here are the words from the chorus of that song to give you an idea of what caught my attention.


 “But they never met, not even briefly. I know what you thought, you thought that they might. What was the problem? The problem was chiefly, she worked the day shift, and he worked the night. No, they never met, not even informally, I know you thought things like this work out right. No no, they never met, not even abnormally, she worked the day shift and he worked the night.”

It’s a great song and you can hear it on Google. I recommend you look for the video version. That was the Martin Mull that grabbed my attention. While most people of my age were going to concerts to see the Beatles, or Rolling Stones, or Elvis, I went to see Martin Mull and Loudon Wainwright III, and Roy Clark.

When I first saw him on television, I was already a fan, so I enjoyed watching him in a completely different genre as well. He was a great deadpan comic actor, and an artistic painter too.

Life was different in the 70s. We collected records and cassette tapes and went to the library if we wanted to research anything. I was working the swing shift at the post office and got to experience the birth of Saturday Night Live. I would get off work just in time to get home to watch it. It was groundbreaking television and exposed me to many of my favorite musicians and comedians. That was the nice thing about working the swing shift, if we worked overtime, it was typically at the beginning of our workday, allowing me to never miss Saturday Night Live. I also got to take a lot of music and the arts classes at college. They were interesting to me as I played with the idea of being a performer and doing something creative for a living as opposed to being a responsible adult and working at a good job that would support my family. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to entertain, but being a responsible adult won the battle of my life. I harbor no regrets about those decisions, and I appreciated being able to taste music, and art, and theater, and photography, even if it wasn’t enough to master any of it.

And the heroes in my life are the performers that have the talent and ability to carry me away from the sometimes-stressful agony of this world and take me to a place where I can laugh, and sing, be silly, and just kick back and enjoy the beauty of this experience. The world is just as full of wonder and beauty as it is hatefulness and ugliness. I choose to focus my attention on the good stuff. Thanks, Martin, for supplying a heaping helping of the stuff that makes me smile.

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