Hallelujah: The Prettiest (And Most Abused) Song In The World

This amazing song took 7 years to write and was then roundly ignored. Only after a cover version and the untimely death of an artist did the song finally become popular.

Since then, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece has been covered at least 300 times and was used in The West Wing, Scrubs, Watchmen, Shrek and much much more. Everybody treats it like a sad song, but it’s not – Cohen’s intention was much more joyful.

BTWs include death of the author, communication in relationships and ice cream chords.

In the moment of meta, Katie talks about a challenge that enthusiasts everywhere must face: When someone says that you’re “too much”.

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Swing Guitar: Preserving A Legacy With Enthusiasm (And Spite)

Swing music is amazing but real swing music that actually sounds like it did in the 30s and 40s is depressingly rare these days. Modern jazz musicians tend to look down on swing jazz and even when they do try to play it, they don’t do it right and it ends up sounding more like modern jazz.

Our guest enthusiast in this episode is Jonathan Stout, a band leader and guitarist specializing in pre bebop jazz guitar. He leads eight different bands, but is best known for Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five and the Jonathan Stout Orchestra, both of which he co-leads with Hilary Alexander. His bands have been heralded as some of the world’s premier swing dance bands.

Jonathan is incredibly enthusiastic about preserving the legacy of swing guitar and honoring the people who created and developed the genre.

Hear about:

  • How Jonathan went from heavy metal electric guitar to jazz music
  • His main idols in swing guitar, especially Charlie Christian who only ended up recording for two years
  • His incredible collection of vintage guitars and what “white whale” guitar he dreams of getting his hands on
  • The time he got the thumbs-up from Norma Miller, one of the original swing dance performers
  • Jonathan’s one simple trick for becoming the best in the world 🙂

Jonathan also plays for us and it’s INCREDIBLE!!!

BTWs include:

  • Racism in jazz
  • The producer who discovered Billy Holiday, Count Basie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and MANY others

In our Moment of Meta we talk about the fourth enthusiandment: Thou shalt not fake enthusiasm!

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The Banjo: Loud, Fun And… Sexy?

People have a TON of misconceptions about the banjo and often dismiss it as the instrument of hillbillies or rednecks. But did you know that it’s an instrument with a huge history and tradition that can be both loud, fun and… sexy?

Our guest enthusiast in this episode is Daniel Rodrigues, a Portuguese jazz musician living in Copenhagen where he plays in several different jazz bands and he is VERY enthusiastic about the banjo.

Daniel takes us on a journey of the banjo, that includes:

  • Why it’s the most fun instrument
  • How to find success and fame as a banjo player
  • The weirdest song he’s ever played on a banjo
  • The best jokes people tell about the banjo

And yes, the movie Deliverance does come up.

BTWs include:

  • A fantastic connection between the banjo and Harpo Marx, the subject from our very first episode.
  • Game of Thrones.

In our Moment of Meta we talk about the most important rule of enthusiasts everywhere: Don’t yuck someone else’s yum!

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Josephine Baker: The Most Interesting Woman In The World

Singer, dancer, entertainer… but also civil rights activist and spy for France during WWII. Josephine Baker truly is the most interesting woman in the world.

Hear all about her amazing life, including her cheetah that would often escape its leash and (encouraged by the audience) menace the band and how she adopted 12 children of different races to form a “rainbow tribe”.

BTWs include:

  • Celebrity nicknames
  • Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7

In our Moment Of Meta, Alex talks about one of the “commandments of enthusiasm” (or enthusiandments as he insists on calling them over Katie’s strong objections) namely that any topic can be fascinating when presented with enthusiasm.

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Episode 1: Harpo Marx – The Happiest Nudist in Hollywood

Harpo Marx (of the Marx Brothers) was a genius of physical comedy but, maybe more impressively, he was a nice and fun person who lived a truly happy life.

Raised in a poor Jewish family on Manhattan and thrown out of school (literally) in 2nd grade, he still ended up living an incredibly interesting life and becoming friends with people like George Gershwin, George Bernard Shaw and Salvador Dali.

Hear about his most epic pranks and about his occasional nudism. Harpo could (and would) turn any boring situation – like a game of golf – interesting by taking off his clothes.

BTWs include:

  • Some of the strangest town names in America
  • Weird vaudeville acts of the 1920s

In our moment of meta, Katie reveals how she came up with the name of the podcast – Electric Enthusiasm – and shares two important quotes about enthusiasm.

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